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There are many breeds of dogs that have become very popular as apartment companion pets. These dogs, as can be imagined, tend to be the toy to smaller sized dogs, although some medium sized breeds are also on the most common city breeds lists. It is important to realize that with appropriate exercise time most breeds, but definitely not all, could adjust to be excellent apartment dogs. The key is finding the time and place to provide the exercise space and activities for higher energy breeds or those that simply stay calm and inactive while indoors.
Even if you have a companion type dog that is ideal for apartment life there are still some considerations that you have make as the owner. Since the dog cannot modify his or her own living space it is up to the owners to anticipate and modify the dog's environment to make a good match. All dogs need space to move about, to run and play, and even to simply go to sleep in a cozy and secure location. Without these basic space and living needs even the most well trained and socialized apartment dog is going to start engaging in challenging and potentially destructive types of behaviors.
One of the most important considerations for apartment living for dogs is the exercise factor. This really cannot be stressed enough, especially since your dogs health and emotional well-being is a direct result of the type and quality of exercise that they get. The quality as well as quantity of exercise will factor in for dogs, just like it does if humans are interested in staying in shape. There is a vast difference in exercise and metabolic benefits to a leisurely mile long stroll compared to a mile jog or run. There is also a lot of difference in a dog outside playing with other dogs versus a gentle game of fetch or hide and seek with their human owner.
Just like with people, a variety of different types of activities that include both physical and mental energy is the best possible combination. You shouldn't feel that you have to get out and run or jog twice a day with your pooch but it would be a great idea to provide your apartment living dog some outside place to run. This can be a fenced doggy park or off-leash area. Many of the larger dog friendly parks will have these areas that are secure and ideal for your pet. If you have a smaller sized dog look for an off-leash area for small dogs that is separate from the larger dogs if this is a concern. Surprisingly most dogs don't realize there is a size difference and a well socialized small and large dog will very happily play together.
Outdoor exercise in a new, unfamiliar space also provides your dog with mental exercise. They will be busy sniffing, exploring and learning about the new surroundings. Just like people, dogs get bored with the same old walk or exercise area. Try finding a different route, walk a route in the opposite direction or visit a new park or off-leash area on a regular basis. The more mental as well as physical stimulation your dog gets on these outings the more excited they will be to get out and about.
Needless to say providing dogs with room in the house to exercise and play when you aren't home can also be a great benefit. This space doesn't have to be large but it does need to be an area that encourages play. Provide some balls, chew toys and even durable stuffed dog safe toys that your pet enjoys. If you have a tile or other durable types of flooring an appropriately sized, raw, meaty bone can provide something to do as well as provide tooth cleaning. This can help break up the monotony of being in the apartment alone and prevent problems with barking and other problem behaviors. Many dogs get started with barking as a way to break up the boredom of the day. Fairly intensive exercise before you leave and toys to play with while you are gone are often all it takes to prevent this habit from ever getting started.
Crate training apartment dogs is an excellent idea. While this may seem like creating a smaller space for the dog, what it really provides is a safe, secure place. Often apartments are full of things the dog can't touch or jump up on, but the crate is theirs to enjoy to the fullest. Crates don't have to be closed and locked, the dog can have the option to sleep and relax in the crate or play about in the apartment. Dogs that know that they have their own secure space may be less likely to develop separation anxiety as well as destructive types of behaviors. Crates also make transporting the dog around in the apartment building much easier and gives them a place to go if company is expected that isn't dog friendly.
If you are leaving your dog indoors while you go to work and you don't have a patio or outside area, some type of alternative bathroom area may be a serious consideration. This is particularly true for senior and young puppies and dogs that may not have the bladder and bowel control of adult dogs. Paper training, puppy pads and even litter box training are all good options. Often senior dogs that have been housetrained to go outside will have the most difficulty with switching to paper or litter box training so you may wish to consider starting your puppy out with this training.
Since barking is always a problem with apartment dogs, especially if there is a lot of traffic in the hallways or noisy neighbors, finding the most distant area from the door or hallway is going to be important. If your dog does tend to bark work with a trainer to teach the dog to only bark once or twice and then stop. This still provides you with the benefits of having a watchdog without the concern that someone will complain about the noise. Breeds that are highly prone to being yappy or barking consistently or frequently are not a good match for apartment life, unless someone is always home to manage the behavior.
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