Is Apartment Living Appropriate for your Dog?


By James Leung

James - Managing Director

Living in an apartment with a dog can be challenging. Too much time spent at home often leads to dogs becoming frustrated and bored resulting in unwanted behaviours such as barking and chewing. Fortunately, with some planning and research into dog breeds, the development of such behaviours can usually be prevented. Many breeds of dog can be content with apartment living provided they get adequate physical, emotional and mental exercise. Before choosing a dog the owner needs to decide how much time she is able to commit to fulfill these needs. High energy level dogs require high levels of both mental and physical stimulation. A mistake frequently made is to assume small dogs require less exercise and that all large dogs require a lot. Certain small breeds are extremely energetic whilst, some large breeds are low energy dogs. Even puppies from the same litter can vary greatly in terms of their energy level. So although researching for the right breed is certainly advisable it does not guarantee the perfect fit.

As a general guideline, the owner needs to select a dog that matches her energy level and fits in with her lifestyle.

If you are considering getting a dog, here are some questions and points to consider:

  • How much time do you have available and when are you able to provide this? In general dogs should be given leash time at least 3 times a day. Note smaller dogs have smaller bladders and will need more potty breaks.

  • Where will you walk the dog and what will it be doing during the walk? As an example some dogs and indeed certain breeds are genetically disposed to be "diggers". They may very well be more content with 30 minutes of digging and 10 minutes of walking as opposed to a one hour walk. Plan for activities that engage and match the dogs needs. Mix it up and keep it fun. With many dogs physical exercise alone is insufficient to drain its energy. Mental stimulation must also be provided.

  • Who will walk the dog? If not you then who? Are they qualified, capable, appropriate? Are you able to check up on them? Tasking another person with this responsibility has its own set of issues.

Relocating from country to city apartment living can be stressful for your canine. Living in apartments are often noisy and busy. And they are often located in areas with road traffic, bicycles, pedestrians and other animals. If your dog has never been socialized to these experiences do not assume it will be comfortable with them. Socialize her slowly to this new environment to better help her adjust.

When it comes to house training apartment living for puppies involves more planning and time, especially for those living on higher floors. Puppies need to go outside very frequently for potty breaks. As a solution some trainers suggest using a "piddle pad". Generally this is not something we recommend as it is something that eventually should be phased out and, in itself, this can become an issue. Frequent and rigidly scheduled potty breaks work best. If you want to avoid house training altogether perhaps consider adopting an older dog that has already been trained.

The extra time and effort spent in choosing the right dog is well worth it. The deep, fulfilling and rewarding relationship and bond you will develop is truly priceless.

At Hong Kong Canine we offer a number of classes that provide a balance of physical, mental and emotional exercises for your dog. We work with all breeds and sizes.