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The Good Dog and Apartment Life - Starting Out Right

Happy Dog, Small Home :)


Starting Out Right

If you're reading this that means you are curious about dogs and apartments and how they mix. I was incredibly frustrated when i was searching for a large dog at the amount of people and organizations that turned me down just because I live in an apartment. My hope for you is that after reading my hubs you will see that it is possible to keep a dog (even a large dog) in an apartment, and for him/her to be very happy and healthy! If I don't get specific enough for what your trying to learn just ask! I try to be as simple as possible and sometimes I neglect details that would be helpful. I'm more than happy to answer questions, honestly half the fun of writing this hub is getting to know the people reading it so I am looking forward to some engaging comments!

The first step to living with a dog in an apartment is figuring out what the pet policy is. Every apartment complex has them. There are 2 very common policies that I found. The first was a simple "no pets allowed". That is pretty simple, you just aren't allowed to have a cat or dog in the apartment. The second, and slightly more varied policy was that small dogs and cats were allowed but an additional fee is required. Usually this fee was an up front pet deposit and then an additional amount of money tacked onto your monthly rent. Small dogs and cats were usually limited to 25 or sometimes 35 pounds. The third, and far more difficult policy to find is the unlimited pet policy. This policy would allow large dogs, several dogs, and sometimes no additional fee (very rare!). Typically the cheaper apartments have very limited pet policies or very high additional fees for them. The more expensive apartments will have more lenient pet policies and will vary in the additional cost they require for adding a pet into your family. I found some to be very high, and others to have no additional cost.

I would NOT recommend trying to sneak under the radar and cheat the policy. In an apartment, routine maintenance or emergency maintenance is a common thing that often means apartment personnel are entering your apartment with very short notice. If they find you are in violation of the pet policy (and they are very good at noticing) you can be heavily fined, forced to give up your dog, or kicked out of your apartment. Those are not situations you ever want to be in.

Now, the type of dog you get is a very important variable in living with one in an apartment. An entire article could be written about good vs bad dogs for apartment living. Several pet websites and books have excellent resources for figuring out which breed/type of dog is best for you and an apartment. I write this article simply from my experience raising and living with an Alaskan Malamute in our apartment. They are supposed to be one of the worst dogs for apartments. They are large, have a huge exercise requirement, shed massive amounts of fur, and can have a very high tendency to destroy furniture and walls. I was dead set on wanting an Alaskan Malamute because I find the breed beautiful and they just seemed to fit what I needed and wanted in a dog perfectly. I researched the breed extensively before finally getting her. I talked to breeders and malamute owners. I read article after article on the internet and in magazines and books for several months. I am very pleased to report that Zoe is very very happy and healthy, so if she can live in an apartment I have high hopes for you and your furry companion!

There are several obstacles to overcome when living in an apartment such as: exercise needs, living space, where to potty, very close neighbors, and noise. I'll go into each one talking about my experiences and the research I've done. I'll try to tell you what I've found works and what doesn't work. What works for me may not work for you. What didn't work for me might work for you. But that's what comments and conversations are for right?!


TheEpicJourney (author) from Fairfield, Ohio on September 18, 2015:

Hi Gil! Thank you so much for the kind words. I'm so glad the article was helpful and got you asking all the right questions. To be honest, I think you are in the perfect place to go get a Mal. It sounds like you have a good knowledge on training, as well as the time to commit to building that foundation which is essential for a healthy dog. One word of caution is that training a mal can be very different than some other breeds. Every individual dog is different, but my experience has been that Mals are so smart they learn what you want to do within a few minutes. Not only that, but then they take that training a step further and figure out WHY you want them to do it. They are adept at learning the spirit behind a training command, vs the letter of the law so to speak. This makes them very easy to train, but also very difficult because they won't always obey precisely unless THEY deem it an appropriate use of the command haha. For example, a sled team when given the command to turn left may not do it, because they know the ice is thin or they detect a hidden crevice in the snow. So they go straight or stop. They know to obey the command, but they also know that the command is to keep them safe and will use their own judgement to override the trainer sometimes. If you tell them to sit, they will try to figure out why and stick to that why, rather than just sit whenever told. NOT ALWAYS, but its something to be aware of :).

They do need a lot of attention throughout their lives, they're incredibly social animals, but once you have that training foundation established I don't think you need to worry about having a job down the road. Especially if you would get a 2nd dog. With a few years of maturing, Zoe (my mal) is perfectly content to sleep the day away in the cool ac until I get home to take her out and play/exercise. I wish you all the best, thanks for stopping by!! Hope this helps :)

Gil on September 18, 2015:

Hello there! Your article was very good to read. It made me realize a lot of things. Even though I know that alaskan malamutes are not really the best dogs for indoors, I still would want one but I dont know if its worth the risk. I am currently living in a house with my husband. I recently moved out from my mother country to the US to be with him.. But I left my 14 years old boxer-mastiff mix back with my family and been here for a while and not having a dog just feels pretty lonely, specially because I cant really work until my legal paperwork is done.. My concern is, well, malamutes have been the breed i've always wanted.. But i keep reading they need a lot of attention, and as for right now i could give a dog a lot of attention, i dont know if when i start working i will have the same energy to keep up with the dog and if that will make the dog destroy things around the house.. I really am strict and have a gift for training dogs as my boxer-the one i left with my family- is very very obedient and smart. I even taught her to play hide and seek efficiently. But i just dont know that nuch about malamutes, but i always wanted one... What do you suggest?? :) Thank you!!

Luciano on September 07, 2013:

Hey ! great article ! I really want a malamute and I will try to get one after this coming winter. My main concern right now is that i wont be able to get one from a breeder. All of them have strict condo / apartment policies. At this point I don't see any alternative but to lie or to ask my parents to "get the dog for themselves.." because they have a fenced yard. Where did you get yours ? How should I approach the problem ?

TheEpicJourney (author) from Fairfield, Ohio on January 10, 2012:

Thank you so much for the compliments, votes, and publicity Marcoujour! Your to kind! I'm very glad you visited :)

Scroll to Continue

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on January 10, 2012:

Hi Epic,

Wanted to check out your first piece and meet the beautiful Zoe. You are a beautiful and caring soul.

Voted UP & AB. Will share on FB and Digg, mar.

TheEpicJourney (author) from Fairfield, Ohio on August 25, 2011:

Hi Lizzer, thanks for the comment. I stand by my comment in the hub that what you did can be very dangerous for both you and your pooch. I'm really glad that it worked out for you though! Thanks for the compliments on Zoe, she is indeed a terrific dog :)

Lizzer on August 24, 2011:

I lived in a one bedroom and had a bigger dog, wasn't allowed to have her but I did it. Other people had dogs in the apt so it was easily masked. I just didn't pay for her. When she was younger she did tear up the carpet once but before I moved out I fixed it and they still never new I had her there. But I was on edge the whole time I was there. The month I was moving they found out about her but because I was moving they never said anything or made me pay. But it was a close call. Keep up Zoe, she's an awesome gorgeous Dog!

TheEpicJourney (author) from Fairfield, Ohio on August 23, 2011:

Hi Cloverleaf, thanks for the comment and welcome! I'm really enjoying this site so far. Your question about dogs barking more in apartments is an excellent one. A lack of exercise most certainly contributes to a dog's barking excessively. I do think space is an issue that can contribute to their barking but not in the way I think you mean. I'll explain that ;) Dogs like small spaces, one reason dogs take to crates well is because crates create a den-like feeling which hearkens back to a dog's instinctual home. Dogs like small living spaces. So in that sense I think apartments can actually help a dog feel more relaxed.

However, apartments are not small segregated living areas. They are living areas stacked on living areas next to other living areas with lots of traffic in a condensed area. So in that sense small space becomes a major issue. For example:

I always know when someone walks into our building's common area. This common area connects all the individual apartment doors to the apartment building's entrance. Even if she is sleeping Zoe's ears will perk up and she will wake up. If she is awake when the person walks in, she will walk over to the door with her nose to the bottom crack and sniff to check on who it is. As soon as Jenna steps foot inside the common area, before she has even stepped down the stairs to our apartment, Zoe knows its her. Even in a dead sleep she will know and wake up to greet her with no visual ques whatsoever. Her senses are keen enough from that far away to tell the difference between a stranger and Jenna walking in.

I would think Zoe is the norm, more than the exception for dog senses. Dogs senses are much greater than we realize and when you combine that with the increased, concentrated, activity of an apartment building it is easy for them to get an overload of sensory input which builds excitement. You combine sensory excitement with pent up energy and there's your extra barking. Plus, some dogs individual personalities as well as breed characteristics will just naturally cause them to bark more. Combine all of those things and then consider dogs living next door to other dogs and feeding off of each other's energy and you've got a very boisterous building!!

I hope this helped, I'll go into more detail about some methods for controlling it in my hubs. I'm hoping to have another finished tomorrow ;). You already nailed one on the head though, and that's EXERCISE. Thanks for the comment!

Louise from Calgary, AB, Canada on August 23, 2011:

Hello TheEpicJourney and welcome to HubPages!

You have some very good tips here for keeping a dog in an apartment, and your dog Zoe looks absolutely adorable and very happy!

Sometimes I find that dogs in Apartment buildings bark excessively, do you think this is because they don't have enough space or pehaps because owners don't exercise them enough?

I'm looking forward to reading more of your hubs. I'm a big dog lover :-)


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