Raising a dog can be tough work! Add the stress of a 5th floor apartment where your neighbour down the hall hates dogs no matter how cute they are into the mix and it can seem nearly impossible some days. Especially in those early potty training months! After living with a couple guide dogs in a backyard-less townhouse and now raising my own puppy in an apartment building I’ve collected a few tips, tricks, and absolute don’ts over the years to make your life, and your pups, a little more stress free!
1. First and foremost, either prior to move in or prior to bringing home a new fuzzy bundle of joy in your life tell your neighbours! Its amazing how far a little pre-warning and pre-apologizing can go! Tell your neighbours who you are, what you’re planning and maybe even let them meet your pup, especially if you have someone who lives underneath you. It’s easier to excuse the sounds of puppy play and general rambunctiousness on those days your dog just wont settle, when you can attribute a slobbery face to the noise and you know the dogs owner is doing everything they can to minimise the noise.
2. Try not to let your dog go too crazy in the house. A couple sprints up and down the hallway occasionally during a low-key game of fetch are one thing, but nobody wants to live underneath those people who let their dog go crazy for hours on end instead of taking them outside for play time. If you live in an apartment and are thinking of getting a dog do some research before hand to make sure you know the energy levels and exercise needs of your particular furry friend. Size isn’t everything! Some big dogs make excellent apartment dogs, while some small breeds don’t do well in small spaces.
3. Learn the benefits of mental stimulation! There are tons of games and activities you can play inside with your dog that won’t create too much of a ruckus for your neighbours! Check out some of our other blog posts for some great ideas!
4. On the topic of keeping the neighbours happy, if your building doesn’t already have a pre-determined potty spot, find an area far away from the comings and goings of the building where your dog can do its business. Don’t let your dog do its business right in-front of a main entrance or besides a walkway. Nothing’s worse then stepping in dog poop or walking by countless yellow snow banks when you don’t even own a dog!
6. Smaller spaces, means more hair! Even though the size of your dog doesn’t change the space in which the hair has to hide itself is remarkably less and your apartment will look dirtier and possibly get a little smelly much quicker then a house will. There are plenty of great cleaning hacks out there on the Internet you can find, including using a squeegee to remove hair from carpets (try it! It’s a life-changer).
I personally recommend the Nature’s Miracle line of cleaning products. I discovered their odor and stain remover during potty training and it has been a life saver! It works AMAZING for removing stains (yes even pee stains) as well as an all around smell remover (I spray it on my carpets, couch, bedding, virtually anything!), and is decently priced, especially if you buy it in the big jugs.
But to this day, I’ve found the easiest “trick” to help manage all the hair floating around is to establish a weekly grooming regiment to catch the hair before it falls off the dog!
5. Leave a radio or the TV on for your furry friend when you leave the apartment. Not only will it help keep your pup occupied and minimize any noises they might make, it will also help cover up any noises from the hallway, helping you avoid being that apartment with the dog who barks at the door for hours every time someone walks by (training also helps tons with this)!
6. Create a “landing zone”. As we all know apartment living means way less space for all of your stuff. Lessen the hassle of having to dig around to find the leash, ball, poop bags, and everything else every time you try to leave your unit with your pup by creating a functional and not half-bad looking storage unit for all your pups things!
7. What about potty training though you ask! Well I tell you it is possible, despite living in that tenth floor unit! When your dog is super small and still has difficulties with the stairs or you’re worried they won’t make it down the hall, into the elevator, and outside in time, don’t feel bad about carrying them! I spent many a times carrying my 10 week old GSP up and down the stairs. After all, its better then having to explain to your super/building manager why there is a giant stain and pee smell coming from the hallway carpet! Just make sure you are still encouraging them to use the stairs/their own four feet when making your way back upstairs.
8. Another tip for potty training in an apartment is to preemptively bring your pup outside BEFORE they have to pee! When raising my pup I was walking the stairs every 20 minuets the first couple of weeks, avoiding the dreaded accidents in the house and putting less pressure on you to make it downstairs in time! As your pup gets older you can start waiting longer and longer until they learn to let you know when they need to go.
9. Hang bells off of your door and work with your dog to teach it to ring them when they need to use the potty. Be warned though! If your dog is a smarty pants they may learn that they can ring the bells to get outside whenever they are bored and want to play outside. Judge your dog, and if they seem to be abusing the bell privileges don’t feel bad about taking them away.
10. Lastly and maybe the most important, discover the neighbourhood surrounding your building! Just because you don’t have a fenced in back yard doesn’t mean your pup can’t spend time in the outdoors! You never know where cool trails and parks are hiding that can be great walking areas. If your dog is good off leash keep an eye out for school-yards, they work as great spaces for some intense games of fetch and catch-me-if-you-can! Many neighbourhoods even have weekly dog meet ups where your pup can make some new friends and get some exercise in!
Let us know what some of your favourite tips and tricks are for making life a little easier raising dogs in small spaces!
Tail wags from the CompleteK9 team!