Apartment pets are on the rise. With changes in strata laws and the increasing urbanisation of society, more and more people living in units, apartments, and townhouses are considering sharing their lives with an animal companion. There are considerations owners can make to ensure they and their dog live the happiest lives possible.
Choose your apartment carefully:
Check that dogs are permitted within your residence. You may also need to check which type of dog you are allowed and how many, if you intend to own more than one.
Consider whether outdoor space, either private or communal, is important to you. If you have a balcony, check that your dog is safe and cannot jump off or fall. In ground-floor apartments or townhouses, you may need to check that your pet is secure within the garden.
Choose your dog carefully:
If your dog will spend a lot of time within your apartment, then smaller or less active dogs may be more appropriate. Consider also adopting an adult dog rather than a puppy.
Dog’s eye view:
Consider your apartment from your dog’s viewpoint. Get down on your hands and knees and view your unit from your dog's angle. Are there places to sleep, to get up high and feel safe, toys to play with, a place to eat, a private spot to toilet?
Room with a view:
Most dogs enjoy a view of the world around them, so provide them with a window ledge or a table next to your window to look out. Be aware, however, that disturbances outside may cause dogs to become stressed.
Dogs often enjoy a sunny spot to snooze, especially in winter. In summer, however, you may need to block the sun’s entry into your apartment as the temperature can quickly soar. Ventilation may also be needed, but ensure that open windows are not escape routes!
Dogs need access to a toilet area. Ensure that your dog is able to reach their toilet at all times and that you keep it as clean as possible.
Fun and games:
Dogs like to play - especially those that are kept indoors - so you must provide a range of toys for their amusement and to prevent any destructive behavior. Rotate toys around to keep your dog’s interest and ensure you interact with your dog when you are home. Keeping your pet occupied and amused will help reduce any potential behavior issues such as boredom, anxiety, and noise.
Your dog's behavior may impact your neighbors, especially if your dog is extremely active or noisy! If you take your dog outdoors, ensure that you move them through the communal areas with care so that no stress, fear, or mess results for your neighbors. Also, consider how you would remove your pet should the unlikely scenario of an emergency evacuation arise.
If you are friendly with your neighbors, introduce your dog to them. Pets are a great conversation starter, and your neighbors may appreciate having contact with a companion animal. They may even be able to feed your dog or provide holiday care. They may also be able to alert you if your pet is causing any problems in your absence. You never know – you may even be able to set up a pet community within your apartment block.