Apartment living raises the stakes for dog owners
Living in an apartment can be stylish, fun and convenient - close to work, your friends, transport, your favourite brunch spot and nightlife.
But living in an apartment can also make choosing the right pet for your lifestyle a difficult decision.
Pets offer wonderful companionship and can have benefits for your health and wellbeing.
But if you get it wrong, make no mistake, they can be an absolute curse!
Is a dog really for you?
Dogs need more commitment of time and effort, and are more expensive than many other pets. Your lifestyle may not suit a dog.
If you work long or unpredictable hours, or like lie-ins; if you have other commitments to sports or education, and if someone in your household doesn't support your decision may be just a few reasons not to get a dog.
Come rain or shine, and in the dark of winter, your dog will need about two hours of mentally stimulating, off-lead exercise every single day - one hour in the morning, and one hour in the evening. It can be bleak!
Apartment buildings are often in areas without ready access to quality dog-friendly off-lead facilities. It's better than nothing, but the local cricket oval is a very poor second best and offers very little benefit to most dogs - in fact it can be a crucible of unproductive behaviour. So if your park is like many inner city facilities, you'll need to factor in about three hours every day getting ready to leave and travelling to and from the park.
From buying the dog, equipment, treating for ticks, fleas and worms, de-sexing, vet checks, insurance, paying for damage, paying registration and fines, training, toys, kennelling, transport, dog food and treats, dog-walking and day care services, a dog can very easily cost you an eye-watering $30 000-$70 000 over its lifetime, without even really trying.
Choose the right dog for you
If, after all that, you still want a dog, carefully consider what sort of dog might suit your lifestyle.
Large or small, dogs were bred to perform specific jobs and they retain the traits that made them suitable for performing those tasks.
In your domestic situation, some of these traits and inclinations, for example to dig, maybe very undesirable and need more management so they do not become a problem, or make training more challenging.
What are the traits, temperaments, function and common related behaviours of the breed type you are thinking about? How will you manage this dog’s traits? How will you meet this dog’s needs?
Adopt a dog
Adopting a dog is a great way to gain a new friend, and help an animal in desperate need of a new home.
Taking a dog from animal shelter reduces the needless killing of dogs, and reduces the number of dogs that are produced by unethical breeders.
An adult dog from a shelter is as rewarding as having a puppy, but often without the considerable work, sleepless nights and piss on your socks.
no matter the adopted dog’s past, it is easy to create a clean slate and a new future with simple and consistent boundaries, and gentle reward-based training and positive reinforcement.
As a bonus, dogs adopted from an animal shelter will be de-sexed, have been treated for ticks, fleas and worms and had all the basic vet checks and necessary injections.
How to have a good apartment dog
Dogs can live happily in an apartment. Sensible, consistent rules and boundaries help make your dog a good citizen.
Your dog should never be a nuisance for other people, whether by jumping up on them, or barking or by your leaving dog poo in the park or on the footpath.
You know you've done your job right when people in your block see you about with your dog and say, 'I didn't know you had a dog!'
To have good apartment dog, invest your time and effort. Three basic elements will help create a happy dog, and a harmonious home and community: be a competent pack leader; give your dog positive, mental stimulation and training; and provide sufficient physical exercise.
1. Lead your pack
Dogs are a social, pack animal. Your dog needs rules and boundaries that show you are a competent pack leader.
When you are in charge, your dog can trust you, relax, and you are less likely to cause problems like ‘separation anxiety’.
2. Stimulate your dog's mind
A dog that doesn’t get enough mental stimulation will quickly become stressed and unhappy, and display unwanted, often anti-social behaviour – like destroying your couch, or barking and whining – or even become a danger to itself, and you and others.
3. Provide physical exercise
Some dogs need more exercise than others - but most dogs will need about two hours a day.
Get greatest value from your time by combining your off-lead walk with mentally stimulating games and reward-based, positive reinforcement of training, like recall, and rules like no jumping, no barking.
If you'd like help with living with a dog in an apartment, get in touch!