Living in a tiny city apartment, such as a studio, presents challenges for the inhabitants, including pets. Yet, most dogs manage just fine in a small apartment, says Elisabeth Weiss, founder and director of DogRelations NYC, a pet behavior consulting company in New York City—land of the cramped apartment.
When it comes to making your small apartment dog friendly, the trick is to customize your place for your pet’s needs with space saving-supplies and to make sure your dog gets enough mental and physical stimulation.
“The size of the apartment is not the hugest challenge as long as the dog has enough mental stimulation and exercise outdoors,” Weiss says.
City living comes with some difficulties for dogs: the cramped apartments, the commotion of the city outside your door and the often long hours spent alone.
The breed of the dog doesn’t matter too much, although smaller breeds tend to have it easier than larger breeds.
“There’s no one breed that makes a great apartment dog, [though] I suppose it’s more of a challenge to a young Lab than to a toy Poodle,” Weiss says.
Small breed dogs take up less space, can be carried in an elevator in a pinch and often need less exercise, she says, but it really all depends on the individual dog.
“I have not found the smallness [of NYC apartments] to be a problem, because [dogs] like to be in a place that they can manage physically and mentally, as long as it’s quiet,” Weiss says.
The bigger challenge for an apartment dog, according to Weiss, is the isolation, as many pet parents might work long hours.
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“The challenge would be boredom, lack of socialization and housetraining for puppies,” she says.
Pet parents can address these issues by making an apartment dog friendly, from its location within the building to incorporating the perfect dog supplies. There also are hacks that make studio life more hospitable.
The Right Location
If you can afford it, Weiss recommends choosing an apartment building on a side street in a quiet, residential neighborhood.
“The more space you can buy yourself outside, the smaller you can be inside,” Weiss says.
Next, when picking an apartment, try to get one away from hallway doors and other busy entrances to curb your dog’s stress and barking, Weiss says.
“It’s best to be away from the door and away from the window where they can see out and learn to bark at passersby,” she adds.
Being next to a constantly beeping elevator could be distracting, too. Living in an apartment on a high floor presents another challenge: a long ride down to the curb, and some dogs won’t like the elevator.
Carpeted hallways, which often make for a quieter environment, and large elevators are perks to consider, as well as dog-friendly neighbors, Weiss says.
Dog-Friendly Decorating for Small Spaces
Within your apartment, carve out space for your four-legged friend, just as you would a roommate. In a small apartment, every inch counts!
Weiss recommends that you “notice where your dog likes to hang out naturally” when setting up a special place for them. Put dog crates or dog beds in a quiet place. You can create a cozy spot for your dog with the Frisco Sherpa bolster dog bed, so he’ll have a quiet place to chill out after a long walk to the dog park.
You also can design little nooks where apartment pets can escape the hectic city life, Weiss says. Frisco’s Igloo bed cave can provide small dogs with a den-like place to sleep and hang out. Weiss says her dogs like to lie under the piano. Other dogs might prefer a cool floor.
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Small apartments often don’t have a lot of storage, so get creative with storage. Keep dog toys out of sight in a storage container that matches the décor of your home. The Bone Dry wicker basket, for example, stores pet toys but can also be left out in the open as a decorative piece. Save more space with the IRIS elevated pet feeder, which doubles as a pet food storage container.
Keeping Your Pup Mentally Engaged While You’re Gone
For the times you have to leave your pup alone in the apartment, offer a special food treat, Weiss says.
“I use a lot of tripe, so then they look forward to you leaving,” she says.
Be sure to keep your apartment dog active with fun activities. For example, keep your apartment dog busy while you’re out by providing food puzzles, such as the West Paw Zogoflex Toppl dog treat toy. By trapping dog treats inside, parents can ward off boredom and destructive behavior, Weiss says.
Try playing “a boring radio program, such as news, or soft music” while you’re away to lessen their loneliness, Weiss says.
There even are devices, such as the Petcubes Bites wi-fi pet camera, that can let parents talk with a dog during a long day away, while dispensing a treat and reassurances that they’ll be home soon.
Dog Behavior in an Apartment
You can help your dog thrive in a small apartment by teaching him how to behave in the city and within the apartment building, Weiss says. That means teaching them “elevator manners,” not barking at delivery people and, of course, not chewing up your newly furnished studio!
“They’re really expected to behave better than children in the city,” says Weiss, who helps to teach clients’ dogs to “sit and settle” even with distractions going on.
That enables pet parents to answer the door without their dog tackling the pizza guy, or ride the elevator without the dog dashing out as soon as the doors spring open. Teach your dog to settle on a mat with these step-by-step instructions.
Weiss also recommends giving your dog attention when he is calm. For example, when he is calm, pet him or offer a small treat.
“Rewarding the relaxed state is more useful for a dog who lives in the city,” Weiss explains. “The dog will calm down, and [he] will practice that behavior more.”
By being patient and following these tips, your apartment dog may grow accustomed to his small living space in no time.
By: Rose Sala