Are you adding a dog to your family? Are you unsure how to transition your furry friend into apartment life?
Let me start by acknowledging that I do not currently have my own dog living in my apartment. However, I have 10 years of experience working in animal shelters, and I am currently a foster mom to whichever dog at the shelter needs a break from the kennel most. So, I think I am qualified enough to share tips on bringing home your new pup, as I bring home new ones weekly. (If it is a cat you are bringing home, see my other post here.)
Ok, so lets get started because new dogs are A LOT of work. Especially for those of us living in apartments.
In all honesty it would be best for you and your new buddy if you could spend a few days home from work so that your puppy (All dogs are puppies in my eyes, so go along even if your new friend is 11 years old, ok?) has time to build a bond with you and get comfortable in the new environment. I know we aren’t all lucky enough to get that many days off from work, but do the best that you can. Bring the dog home on a Friday maybe, so that at least you get the weekend.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to crate train your new dog. I don’t care how old they are, how well behaved you think they are, or whatever other excuse you may have. You do not know the dog yet, and the dog does not know your house. Your new couch is really going to suffer if you don’t put your dog in a crate at night, and when you leave the house. Just do it. What is the harm? (Please remember that the crate needs to be large enough that the dog can completely turn around while standing up inside it.)
Walk your dog frequently. Considering that the large majority of us living in apartments do not have yards, walking your dog often and for long periods of time, is vital. For one thing, the dogs need to go to the bathroom. You don’t want the new pup peeing on your rug because you didn’t take him out when he whined at the door. Dogs also need to get enough exercise to tire them out, especially large breeds. If you don’t exercise your dog enough, it is going to take out it’s energy in the apartment which means broken lamps and ripped up couch cushions. So walk the dog. Got it?
During the first few days, walking the dog is also going to help you bond, help the dog learn the new neighborhood, and wear it out so that it doesn’t carry on in the crate at night.
The most important thing to do in the first few days is to start laying down the ground rules immediately. You need to enforce the sit command, even if the dog does not understand it yet. If you don’t want the dog sleeping in your bed, don’t let him near the bed. Don’t be afraid to enforce rules while the dog is still getting comfortable, because if you don’t, it is only going to make your job harder down the road.
Beyond the first 10 days
Hopefully you and your new dog are starting to get a routine down. 4 walks a day, meal time, crate time, etc. The crate time needs to last for at least 1.5 months. After that, you can decide whether or not the crate should be used.
Does 4 walks a day sound like too much for your schedule? Well then hire a dog walker. There are many great apps now for such things, as well as local companies who will handle everything for you. If you commute an hour each way to work and work 8 hour days, a dog walker is going to be necessary if there is nobody else home to do the job.
Continue to show your dog the love you did from the beginning, and he/she will continue to show you love back. This is the most important thing when bringing a new dog home. Enforce the rules, but show the puppy that you care about him. Consistency wins.
- Taking care of a dog is pretty self-explanatory but can become complicated when living in an apartment. This article was written with a sassy tone for a reason. I am not mean, and I do not think that you are incapable of owning a dog. I just believe that owning a dog is 10 times more work than owning a cat and if someone is not prepared for that at this point in their lives than maybe adopting a dog right now is not a good choice. (I would adopt every dog at my shelter if I could, but I know that while being a full-time student and working a full-time job, I do not have enough time to dedicate to a puppy; I foster now in the summer, but once school starts up again I will stop.)
- Give your dog time. You will get impatient. You will feel guilty shutting them in the crate. But power through. You will be better off in the end for doing so.
- Adopt a dog from your local animal shelter or rescue. There are many dogs who need and deserve loving homes!