Moving into your first apartment is a great time to consider owning a pet. There are lots of pros and cons and expenses, explored here and here, but if you’re ready for a puppy, you will have to quickly learn how to apartment-train it and avoid costly messes!
As I’ve said before, I love having dogs in my townhouse. It’s the best feeling to come home to them, and they motivate me and my significant other to spend time outside, exercising, and also just cuddled up with them. Plus, both were shelter dogs so we feel extra good about saving them from what could have been a horrible life. That said, if we hadn’t put in the time and effort training them at the very beginning, our experience may not be that great. It’s difficult to have dogs in your apartment…but it’s downright impossible to have untrained dogs!
Here are a few tips to help train your new pup or dog get used to your apartment.
Potty training is obviously key, especially in an apartment that isn’t yours! Knowing you have your security deposit on the line at the end of your lease, it’s in your best interest to keep your apartment clean (and puppy messes simply won’t work). Here are a few tips for starting the potty training process:
1. Don’t leave your dog for long periods of time alone.
For puppies especially, their bladders are tiny and they are physically unable to “hold it” for much time. If you work during the day, try taking lunch breaks at home or working from home as much as possible during your pup’s first few months.
2. Take them outside constantly.
First thing in the morning, every time they wake up, when you get home, when they sniff around, when they get up from laying down, when look at you funny…take them outside! Teach them that if they communicate it to you, you will take care of their needs. And yes, that does mean taking your dog outside very frequently at first, but that’s how they understand that their restroom is outdoors. And yes, that also means they won’t go to the bathroom every time you take them out…but the point is to teach them if they hold it, you’ll take them outside.
3. If (when) they have an accident, use it as a teaching experience.
Remember that your dog is trying hard to please you! If they do have an accident inside, firmly tell them “No”, while pushing their nose toward the mess. Then, immediately take them outside to use the restroom. Never hit or abuse your dog.
4. Clean up accidents quickly.
Accidents will happen. Clean them up quickly using paper towels and club soda, which you can purchase at any convenience store. After dabbing up the mess, pour enough club soda to cover the stain and dab until it is dry. (There are also commercial sprays you can use.)
Dogs are generally full of energy, especially if you adopt a young one. Having them in an apartment means you have to quickly learn to manage their energy level to keep them from being destructive. If your dog rips or chews, they’re likely not trying to misbehave…they’re just bored!
1. Exercise with them.
Dogs need exercise to stay healthy and burn energy. In an apartment, there’s not generally much room for them to run and play, meaning they will rely on you for that! Schedule a walk into your daily routine, whether it’s first thing in the morning, before you cook dinner, or during your lunch break. Not only will your dog love it, but you’ll appreciate the exercise as well.
You’ll probably start to notice that any destructive behavior your dog may have occurs when you’re not in the apartment. Again…they’re bored! Invest in a few durable toys to keep them occupied while you are at work. Think about thick Nylabones, chew toys, or stuffed animals (although if you have a chewer, stuffed animals “explode” pretty easily!) and try a few different types of toys out to learn what they like.
3. Bring them along whenever possible.
Obviously, the best solution is to take your dog with you whenever possible. Dinner at your parents’ house? A day at the park with friends? Brunch with an outdoor patio? Start to think of ways you can bring your dog with you instead of leaving them at home. The excitement of new places wear them out!
Develop Social Skills
Your dog’s social skills, both with humans and with other dogs, are critical in an apartment setting. They will have to interact not only with your friends and family, but also with your neighbors, other dogs in the neighborhood, and new people on walks. Start as soon as you can to develop social skills within your dog for everyone’s benefit.
1. Take them to the dog park.
Once you have your dog trained to “Come” and “Stay” with you, try taking them to an off-leash dog park to interact with other dogs. Most require dogs to have all updated shots, so you can feel safe, however keep your dog close with verbal commands as you assess the situation at first. Many dogs end up loving to run and play with other dogs at the park! However, know that the dog park is not for everyone. For example, one of my dogs loves it…the other gets overwhelmed.
2. Spend time with other people (and dogs).
The best way to socialize your dog is simply to spend time with strangers and new dogs. That could mean stopping to chat with your neighbor during walks, taking your dog to meet friends’ dog
s, or having people over to your apartment. Teach your dog that other people and dogs aren’t a threat, and they’ll be social in no time.
Any other crucial tips for having a dog safely and fairly in your apartment?