With small, indoor living spaces and limited outdoor access, apartment living with pets can be challenging. But, even large dogs can live successfully and happily in an apartment if you do it the right way. Here a few considerations owners can make to ensure that they, and their dog, live the happiest lives possible.

Potty training:

Potty training a puppy or dog when you live in an apartment building presents some unique challenges because you can’t simply pick up your puppy and run outside when he has to go.

  • Get on a predictable schedule – Feed your dog at scheduled intervals and take potty breaks at the same time each day so your dog can start to develop habits and expectations. The younger the dog, the more frequently they will need to go out. If you’re working with a puppy, try to take them out before you see them getting ready to have an accident (sniffing, circling or suddenly running off to a corner) – stay ahead of their potty needs.
  • Consider indoor potty option – This may work for some people. The area should be easy to clean and located away from eating and sleeping areas. Ideally on an outdoor patio that is pet safe. There are many options to choose from, pads, litter boxes, fake grass and even real grass.


Sufficient exercise is even more important for dogs that live in apartments. Apartments are usually smaller than homes and most apartment dogs spend a significant amount of time home alone without access to the outdoors.

Consider getting a dog walker to come in midday and take your dog out. Or, take your dog to doggie daycare a few days a week. Make sure you set aside time each day to take your dog for a walk or outdoor play session. Many apartments offer residents access to a private dog park.


There is no bigger pet peeve for apartment dwellers than a dog that barks uncontrollably. While its normal for dogs to bark when someone comes to the door, it can annoy neighbors if your dog barks at every hallway sound or barks when alone due to boredom or separation anxiety. Teach your dog a “quiet” command for barking. And, if your dog barks while you’re gone, find out why and address the issue. 

Hallways and elevators:

Narrow hallways and confined spaces, like elevators, can really present a problem for some dogs. First and foremost, your dog should always be leashed when in the hallways and elevators. Even if your dog is friendly, your neighbors might be scared of dogs or have dogs who can’t handle being rushed by an off-leash happy face!

  • Elevators – If your dog is terrified of the “big moving box”, then take the stairs while you desensitize your dog to the elevator. Stand well away from the elevator doors so that when they open there’s not a scary surprise suddenly in front of your dog. Also, this allows people to exit the elevator without worrying about your dog. Inside the elevator, position your dog away from the door and your body between the dog and whatever might enter. Teach your dog to wait for a cue from you to enter and exit the elevator.
  • Hallways – Teach your dog to “wait” at all doors. Before you leave your apartment, make sure the hallway is clear of anything that might trigger your dog. Teach your dog to walk calmly next to you, on both sides, so you can maintain control without a tight leash. Don’t linger with your dog in the hallways, or any public areas where dog traffic might occur. Even if you have a friendly dog, others might not. Best to just move along and get from point A to point B.

If you live in an apartment, and need help teaching your dog the ins and outs of apartment living, contact us!