Dog Friendly Apartment Tips

Ever think you can’t get your dream dog just because you live in an apartment and work full time? Breeders and shelters may try to convince you a fenced in yard is necessary in order to give your dog the best life. Let me tell you a little secret: that’s not true.

Now, I’m not saying go out and get any dog just because they are cute. Take into account your lifestyle, the energy and noise levels of the breed you want, as well as what you can handle. But you can have a large dog or an active dog while living in a dog friendly apartment and working full time. I have and here are a few tips that I wish I had listened to in the beginning.

Puppy Welcome Kit

Puppyhood is rough, I’m sure any dog owner would agree. But when you live in a dog friendly apartment, it’s not just you who suffers the whining, barking, and waking up every hour throughout the night. It’s your neighbors too. So start on the right foot. When you bring your puppy home, give your neighbors a puppy welcome kit. 

You can include anything you want but what I included was:

  • A note introducing the puppy with a picture of him, apologizing in advance for any late night puppy related noise. If you want, invite them over to say hello!
  • Dog related human snacks (i.e. Scooby-Doo cinnamon crackers and fruit snacks, etc)
  • Ear plugs

It won’t keep your neighbors from being woken up or getting annoyed but it will at least show them you are aware and working on it.

An example of how to introduce your puppy in a dog friendly apartment: A photo of a puppy on the left with a short note on the right

Puppy Litter Box

Potty training is difficult, especially in an apartment where you may not live on the first floor. And not only do you have to worry about your puppy going in the house but also the other dogs in the complex. You never know what your puppy could pick up from them.

To keep your puppy safe and to help with potty training, use a puppy litter box. Clear out a closet by your front door and set up potty pads with the litter box on top. At first, keep the door open and put your puppy there during potty times. Eventually your puppy will associate the litter box with having to go to the bathroom. Once that happens, close the door. When your puppy starts heading to the door, follow and open the door for them. This will teach them to wait  for the door to open. Eventually, you can transition to the front door and down to the grass. 

A young puppy sits in a puppy litter box for their dog friendly apartment


I’m sure you’ve heard puppies need boundaries. But I find it so much more true for apartment living, even if they are full grown. 

Dogs shed, track mud and dust in, throw up, and so many more messy things. In an apartment, you can be charged when moving out if any of these messes cause stains or damage. To avoid the amount of damage, limit your dogs to certain rooms in the apartment. 

One of my main checklist items when choosing a dog friendly apartment is as little carpet as possible. So I limit my dogs to areas without carpet. This way when they make a mess, it’s easy to clean up. If you are not able to get an apartment without carpet, limit them to as few rooms as possible. This way there is a limit to how much carpet can be chewed on or stained, therefore limiting how much carpet you may be responsible for replacing when you move out.

A boundary I recommend is crate training. If you associate it with good things, your dog will love the crate. Like me, you may feel bad leaving your dog in the crate while working and want to give them a little bit of freedom by using a puppy gate or a single room while you are gone. Don’t feel bad! This is definitely an area where I learned the hard way, through a corner of my bedroom carpet chewed away, half my books torn apart, my passport destroyed, and an emergency vet visit. It is much safer for them to be crated while you are away than chance them getting into something dangerous.

If you feel bad having them crated the 8 or more hours you are at work, try to come home during breaks or, if you live too far from work, find someone you trust to let them out.

Get Outside

Dogs need exercise. Depending on the breed and age, the amount of exercise will vary. How much time can you dedicate to taking them out? Can you do a few miles each day? Or are you more of a weekend adventurer?

Trust me, I understand it can be difficult to get out every day. Working a full time job sometimes you barely have time to grab meals. But most dog friendly apartments have a dog park. You don’t have to go when it’s busy but find time to just go down and play fetch with your dog for a little bit. Then on the weekends do something more with your dog, such as going for a hike or just taking them out to brunch with you. 

For those days you can only get out for a bathroom break, look into mental stimulation. There are so many mind toys for dogs or for a simple DIY solution, you can even hide their meals in a box with the paper filling still inside. What I did was freeze Einstein and Edison’s Earthborn Holistic Unrefined kibble in water. It served two purposes: keeping them cool when it was hot out and keeping them busy trying to get to the kibble inside.

A dog stands on the edge of a pretty trail overlook


If you only take one thing away from this article, have it be this. Train your puppy early! Chances are, you will need someone to watch your dog whenever you go away. You want the dog that everyone wants to pet sit, not the one everyone passes on. Having a well trained dog will make it so you have people telling you they better be the one to watch him next time. 

Not only do you want to train your dog so people will want to watch him when you are away but so you don’t have the problem dog of the complex. The basics I’d recommend for dog friendly apartment living are:

  • No barking when people or other dogs pass.
  • Staying inside when the door is opened. This is especially important for when you get packages or food delivered.
  • No jumping on people.
  • A solid leave it.

These are only a few tips I’ve learned from having a large breed dog and a high energy dog in an apartment. And a great apartment dog starts as a puppy. Set them up right and they will flourish.