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. Take the Purina Breed selector tool to help you decide what dog is right for you.
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 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 behaviour. 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 behaviour issues such as boredom, anxiety and noise.
Your dog's behaviour may impact your neighbours, 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 neighbours. Also consider how you would remove your pet should the unlikely scenario of an emergency evacuation arise.
If you are friendly with your neighbours, introduce your dog to them. Pets are a great conversation starter and your neighbours 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.
About Dr Joanne Righetti
Dr Jo Righetti is an animal behaviourist, educating people in all aspects of the human–animal relationship. Her background is in zoology, with a PhD in animal behaviour and a counselling diploma – qualifications which enable her to work with all sorts of animals – including the human variety! Joanne likes to help pet owners understand their pet's behaviour and solve any pet behaviour problems. She consults with vet clinics, organisations, companies, councils, universities and media and is a regular guest on radio, with pet behaviour Q&As. Jo has also written a number of pet behaviour books and loves chatting to people on social media channels. Jo lives with a dog and 4 cats, as well as 3 sons and a husband. Find out more about Joanne at www.petproblemsolved.com.au.