How To Make Your Dog Happy Living In An Apartment
No yard, no problem!
So you’re dying to have a dog, but you’re worried he won’t be happy in your apartment.
Do you really need a giant house with a big yard to give your dog the best life?
The Dodo spoke with Mikayla Park, director of adoptions and education at Wags & Walks, to bust that myth wide open.
Is living in an apartment worse for your dog?
Great news! The idea that a dog can’t be happy in an apartment is totally a myth.
“There is no one perfect environment in which to introduce a new dog,” Park told The Dodo. “Everyone has the ability to give a dog a happy and fulfilling life regardless of the size of their home, and the presence of an outdoor yard space.”
If you’re waiting to adopt a dog until you have your own yard due to personal preference, that’s totally understandable.
But the only real requirement for having a pup of your own is a willingness to love and take care of him — even if that means getting creative about outdoor time.
“Adopting a dog is about making a commitment to give that dog everything they need for the rest of their life,” Park said. “It might be a bit more work if you don't have the ability to open a door and let your pup go outside, but it is by no means impossible, nor does it make your home any lesser a home in which to have a dog.”
Getting your dog outside when you live in an apartment
But just because you don’t have a backyard or live in an apartment, that doesn’t mean your pup can’t get that quality outside time.
“Outdoor time is a vital part of this daily routine, but it's more about the way you spend that outdoor time than the mere presence of it,” Park explained. “Dogs thrive on having jobs, on pleasing their humans, on working their brains! Challenge them to work while they are outside with you.”
“Don't just let them wander at the end of a leash,” Park said. “Practice your commands, work on eye contact [and] run them through sits and stays and recall. Buy a treat pouch and take it with you when you go, so that you can reward for good behavior and mark victories!”
This will help tire him out so he’s not bursting with energy when you return to your apartment. And with enough active walks or dog park trips, any pup can be happy (regardless of where he lives).
Things that’ll make your dog happy inside an apartment
While your dog definitely needs outdoor enrichment, there are plenty of things that will help keep him entertained while he’s inside your apartment.
“There are lots of wonderful products out there to help you in maintaining a happy and balanced dog without a yard,” Park said. “Brain games like treat puzzles and Kongs are fabulous ways to create some mentally stimulating entertainment.”
Plus, believe it or not, your dog’s bed can even help with that indoor enrichment.
“Buy a raised-place bed and practice having your dog stay there while you cook dinner,” Park explained, noting that this can actually be a fun mental game for some pups. “If they get up, lead them right back onto the bed. They cannot move until you give them the signal to do so. Sound boring? You would be surprised how hard it is for some dogs to make their bodies sit still for 20 minutes.”
So, there are plenty of ways you can give your dog a happy life with lots of enrichment while living in an apartment.
“Not having a backyard is certainly a bit of a challenge, but one that any adopter is capable of rising to meet, with dedication and time,” Park said.
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