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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Renting an Apartment: The Best Dog for Living in an Apartment

The following information is from my book,

"Renting with Rex: How You, Your Dog, Your Landlord and 

Your Neighbors Can All Thrive in Rental Housing."

Jackie Phillips
Feel free to contact me anytime at the above email address.

All text is copyrighted and protected. Any unauthorized use is prohibited.  


Here are some topics that are covered:

1. All dogs can successfully be taught to live in an apartment.
2. Some common breed differences when living in an apartment
3. Small size dogs
4. Medium size dogs
5. Larger size breeds
6. Some Good Habits to Establish If You Live in an Apartment with Your Dog

Renting an Apartment and Having a Dog

The Best Dog for Living in an Apartment

All dogs can successfully be taught to live in an apartment.

The success rate among dogs will be in the extra amount of time and effort that some dogs will need from the owner. Some dogs require more physical and mental exercise like herding, sporting and working dogs. Some dogs have longer coats which will require more brushing.

The breed aside, some individual dogs may have issues with being left alone in a house without causing destruction. If this behavior is known prior to moving in or develops later on, then some behavior modification and training will be needed. The dog can be taught how to be inside without causing destruction. Perhaps some time at a doggie day care a couple of times a week to relieve some of the tension would help the dog to adjust to the new environment.

If the dog is not 100% successfully housetrained that issue must be dealt with separately. Perhaps working with a professional dog trainer or behavior consultant will help during the transition period.

If an owner is committed to daily exercise, stimulation with training and games, trips to the dog park and regular grooming, than this is the kind of dog that will do best in any apartment environment.

Some common breed differences when living in an apartment

Below is a generalization of dog sizes and their energy needs.

Small size dogs
Small dogs, generally dogs under 15 pounds, are a deceiving group of dogs to automatically assume any kind of standard behavior. This group range from a sedate Pekinese to high maintenance Yorkshire Terriers to nervous Chihuahuas to strung out Jack Russell Terriers. One breed is so unlike another in exercise needs and energy levels that it is close to comparing apples and oranges when comparing the breeds in dogs less than 15 pounds. Unfortunately, due to the discrimination and ignorance of many property owners, who wrongly feel any dog less than 20 pounds is acceptable in their minds, this is the group of dogs that most commonly are in apartments.

I think a broad generalization could include the use of the name Terrier as an indication of demanding, high energy needs. Also if you look at the history of the breed to see if they are a working breed, like the Jack Russells or the Dachshund, and are they still being used for this work, like the Jack Russells, that might give you a better indication of the dog’s energy needs.
Compare this to the Pug or the Pekinese, who original purpose was for companionship.

Medium size dogs
This group has a wide range of sizes anywhere from 15 to 20 pounds all the way up to 50 pounds, and the breeds vary from all herding dogs (border collies and cattle dogs) to spaniels (brittanys, springers), to bull dogs (English Bull Dogs and American Pit Bull Terriers).

Let us not forget the Dalmatian, which is considered to be a non-sporting breed group, but is one of the most demanding breeds for exercise and training and direction of any breed that exists today due to its history as a hunting and carriage dog.

Any breed with “spaniel” or “pointer” in its name will have high energy automatically built in with demanding amounts of exercise on a daily basis. If these needs fail to be met you may find holes in your doors, complaint notes from your neighbors from the barking and claw marks on hardwood floors.

This category also includes most American Pit Bull Terriers (APBTs) and related “bull breeds,” which have about as much variation in personality and temperament as there are dogs. Some of the bull breeds can be sedate, some can be medium energy levels and some can be super high energy, and these can also change from day to day. APBTs and their relatives can generally be classified as dogs that need training, a leader as an owner, and a channeling for their intense focus and emotions. These breeds typically need daily exercise such as walks, supervised play sessions with other dogs and a lot of mind stimulation like games and training classes. APBTs and other bull breeds need a great deal of mental stimulation to keep them from creating mischief.

Larger size breeds
This breed group would include dogs from 50 pounds up to about 100 pounds. Any breed that weighs over 100 pounds would be classified as a Giant breed, a group that consists primarily of Mastiff-type breeds and larger sighthounds.

The most popular of the large breeds are the retrievers (Goldens and Labradors), which are two of the most high energy and exercising demanding breeds that exist. Yet many property owners will say “OK” to these breeds because of the stereotype that these dogs are so friendly. However, one additional drawback to the caring of these breeds is their coats, which need daily grooming and brushing to prevent excessive shedding and matting.

Like the smallest breeds, the larger breeds of dog can be misleading. Many property owners mistakenly believe that a large dog requires constant exercise and would be unable to live in an apartment. Again, dogs are only as adaptable as the degree of time and effort that an owner is willing to put into the dog. Any dog of any size that is exercised and socialized properly can live anywhere. If a 10 pound Jack Russell is not exercised daily and a 90 pound Rottweiler is, then the Rottweiler will be more adaptable to the apartment.

Some Good Habits to Establish If You Live in an Apartment with Your Dog

Living in an apartment can be an enjoyable experience for both you and your dog. The following is a suggested list of good habits in order to keep an apartment experience fun.

1. Teach your dog a specific word for bathroom breaks so when it is pouring rain or you are traveling, you will need them to go quickly or in an unfamiliar location.

2. Keep your dog on a consistent and regular food because if your dog suddenly has a bout of diarrhea due to a sudden change in food they will not have much control to wait until you can take them out.

3. Provide daily physical and mental exercise for your dog.

4. Designate a space in the apartment that each animal can call its own that others do not share.

5. You can also designate your own space in the apartment that the animals are not allowed into such as the bathroom or kitchen for safety reasons or certain pieces of furniture. Baby gates are very helpful to block access to certain locations.

6. Since an apartment is small and limited on space and storage compared to a house, you will end of sharing a lot of space with your pet simply due to the fact that there is very little space to begin with. For example, it will be difficult to prevent your dog from being on certain pieces of furniture, especially if you don’t have a crate for your dog.

7. I have been able to apply the same rule to other locations that a blanket must be in a certain spot for the dog to lay on it, or they are not allowed. When the blankets get washed, then these locations are off limits. I will enforce this. I figure my dogs can wait a couple of hours until the blankets are cleaned and they do. The use of the blankets does seem to give the dog a clear understanding of when they can be on a piece of furniture and when they cannot.

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