Unfortunately, many people in large cities or even smaller towns simply don't have a yard attached to their condo, town house or apartment. Since many of the breeds of dogs (both small and large) do require a yard for regular exercise, it is nice to also know that there are many breeds that are wonderfully adaptable to apartment and indoor living. One of the most amazing factors is that often these apartment and small space dogs are not just the toy and miniature breeds. Many of the small, medium and even large breeds do very well living in an apartment - provided they have regular exercise, and an opportunity to run and play in open areas on a daily basis.
One of the most important factors in a well-behaved and healthy dog is the amount of exercise that he or she will need. All dogs require some daily exercise to aid in digestion, blood circulation, muscle development and weight management and control. Dogs that do not get the right amount of exercise are more prone to heart problems, respiratory problems, obesity and related health conditions as well as joint and muscle problems. Regular exercise, in some form, is important for every breed of dog. The variance in types of exercise is what makes some breeds more suitable for living in small living spaces or apartments than others.
Most of the miniature, toy or small breeds will self-exercise. This means that they will actually find things to do in the house that will keep them moving about. This can include constantly moving about the house, playing with toys indoors, or even playing with a companion dog or other pet while in the house. Since these dogs are so small, even a fairly small exercise space will suffice to allow them to run and romp.
Many of the medium and large sized breeds can also adjust to small living spaces and apartments, provided they are given regular, scheduled outdoor walks and activity time. Medium and large breeds tend to be less likely to self-exercise indoors, simply because they are physically so much bigger, and require more room to run and play. There are, however, options for setting up furniture that can leave very large open spaces in playrooms or other areas, that can provide medium sized dogs the opportunity to get some exercise.
Large and giant breeds are typically not recommended for apartment living, simply because of the physical size of the dog. Many of the large breeds are calmer, and require less activity than the smaller breeds, and these can do very well in a large apartment with regular exercise. Sometimes, there is the misperception that larger dogs require more exercise - when often the reverse is actually true. Some apartments and smaller living spaces have restrictions on the size of the dog that can be kept within the building, so carefully check with the landlord if you do have a dog of any size.
Barking and Destructive Behaviors
Dogs of any size or breed can develop problem behaviors for many reasons. Three of the most common reasons are boredom, lack of exercise and lack of attention. When two or all three of these combine, the dog is likely to become highly destructive and problematic, both when you are there and when you are gone.
Dogs in apartments or small spaces that don't get enough exercise will find ways to self-exercise that are less than desirable. Many will chew or destroy furniture, pillows, rugs, shoes or almost anything else they can get hold of. Often, this behavior occurs seemingly out of the blue to owners when they arrive home to find their apartment in shambles. Even small dogs can become destructive through chewing or destroying property if they are not receiving enough exercise. A simple and effective way to prevent this problem is to exercise the dogs thoroughly before leaving them alone in the living space. This may mean an extra long walk, and a game of fetch or ball prior to leaving the house. In addition, leaving lots of toys out for the dog to play with while you are gone can really help to self-exercise and alleviate boredom.
Problem barking is another major concern for dog owners in apartments. Since many of the small, toy or miniature breeds tend to be prone to high, shrill barking or yapping type behaviors, it can be even worse with smaller dogs. Typically, barking is a normal activity that the dog engages in to let you know when something is strange or new in the environment. Problem barking occurs when the dog barks for no reason at all, or starts barking when you are home or away and will not stop. There are a couple of reasons for problem barking, with the easiest one to deal with being barking for entertainment and for something to do. Typically, these are also dogs that are not getting enough exercise. A good long walk or game, lots of toys left out to play with and even a television or radio left on for background noise can help boredom barkers. It is also important to teach your dog to stop barking on command when you are home, so they understand that they are only to bark once or twice and then stop. Lots of positive praise and reinforcement can usually accomplish this learning in a relatively short period of time.
Some dogs, small to large, can occasionally develop anxiety and separation problems that can lead to both destructive behaviors and problem barking. If your dog appears genuinely distressed when you prepare to leave or when you arrive home, they may be suffering from an anxiety disorder. Your vet can prescribe medication, and should also be able to refer you to a professional trainer that can help you with behavior modification, to help your dog deal with anxiety about being left alone.
Some of the most popular small dogs for apartment living and small spaces include the terrier group, Toy Poodles, Shih Tzu, Maltese, Pekingese, Papillon, Chihuahua, Pug, Miniature Pinscher, Lhasa Apso and the Dachshund.
Medium sized dogs that will do well in an apartment with regular exercise include Boxers, Spaniels, Bassett Hounds, Spitz, Keeshond, Labrador Retriever, Shetland Sheepdog, Shiba Inu, Cocker Spaniel and the Shar-Pei.
Large breeds of dogs that will adapt well to an apartment or small space include Dogue de Bordeaux, Great Pyrenees, Gordon Setter, Mastiffs, Standard Poodles, Greyhounds and Bloodhounds. These dogs will all need a large living space, but can do very well without a yard provided they are given regular, frequent exercise and walks.