Avoid having a *ruff* experience with your new pet.
We now live in an era of social distancing, where staying home means staying safe. It sounds simple enough, but long-term isolation can have devastating effects on our physical and mental health. The good news is getting an apartment dog can help combat the effects of loneliness.
Adopting a dog can be an exciting and fun time, but for apartment dwellers, it can be a difficult decision to make. What kind of dog do you want? What kind of dog can you care for? Is there enough room in my apartment for the both of you?
Is there really a best dog breed for apartments?
It’s a good question to ask. But there are a couple of things to consider beforehand. First off, there’s no such thing as the best dogs for apartments or the worst dogs for apartments. The only thing you have to consider is what kind of dog is best for you and your home.
As always, check your lease and double-check with your landlord or management office to determine the rules for adopting a dog in your building. This will often include one-time or monthly pet fees. Some buildings also have a list of prohibited dog breeds because of perceived aggressiveness.
But personality traits in dogs, as with people, can vary wildly. And specific dog breeds are less important than how you care for your new best friend and how much work you’re willing to put into your new relationship.
Since traits vary from dog to dog, the breed is less important than what characteristics to look for in your new roommate. An enormous, loud barking, shedding, drooling anxious dog may not be the best choice.
Here are four things you need to think about before deciding to get a dog for your apartment.
1. Size matters
When it comes to the size of the dog you adopt, you have to consider preference and practicality. If you live in a 750-square-foot apartment in a major city, maybe a Great Dane isn’t right for you.
Any dog owner will tell you a tired dog is a well-behaved dog, so think about daily walks and exercise when shopping around. Do you live near a park? If not, the bigger the dog you adopt, the longer your walks will be. So, if you decide to get an English mastiff, be sure to also invest in a steady stream of running shoes.
Smaller or medium-sized dogs like Shetland sheepdogs or terriers also love long walks and lots of exercise, but require less outdoor activity time than bigger breeds. Exercise and socialization are especially important if you’re planning on going back to the office again or resuming regular activities.
2. Time commitment
The biggest concern when adopting a dog is how much time you’ll have to take care of it. Maybe you spent a lot of time at the office or traveling or going out. But since many of those activities are on the back burner for now, let’s focus on some of the more practical aspects of having a pet.
Breeds like German shepherds, Labrador retrievers, poodles and some breeds of spaniels are known to have higher overall levels of separation anxiety. So, if you didn’t work from home before coronavirus and you’ll have to go back to the office once everything reopens, these breeds shouldn’t be at the top of your list.
3. Hair, hair everywhere!
Regardless of what kind of dog you adopt, you’ll love them. You’ll love their affection and sense of play and the way they look up at you while curled up in your lap. What you won’t love is how much hair is left behind after you get up.
Malteses, beagles and chow chows are some of the breeds that will make you start thinking about buying that really expensive vacuum cleaner. If you want to spend more time playing with your dog than picking their loose hair off your sofa, consider a Portuguese water dog, schnauzers or Shih Tzu.
Remember, no dog breed is 100-percent hypoallergenic, but there are breeds to consider that don’t shed or produce a lot of dander that can have you running for the tissues
4. Rowdy and loud
Up until now, we’ve discussed how dog ownership will affect you, but what about your neighbors? Even if you live in a dog-friendly building and pay your monthly pet fee and remember to take poop bags every time you go for a walk, you can still run afoul of your landlord if your dog barks all day while you’re at work.
Dogs bark for lots of reasons: They want to get your attention because they’re hungry or want to play or want to go out. But if they’re home alone they’ll bark because they’re nervous, or scared or anxious. Sometimes, dogs will bark because the quiet makes them uneasy and they want to hear a voice — even if it’s their own.
Huskies, Dobermans, German shepherds and beagles are among the most vocal dog breeds. But like any canine behavior, it can be changed through consistent training and positive reinforcement. If your dog is a nervous barker, make sure they have enough chew toys, so they have something to fixate their anxiety on instead of making noise to get someone’s attention.
What kind of apartment dog should I get?
Before selecting a dog breed, it’s important to figure out what’s right for your situation. Do your homework. Reach out to shelters and animal rescues (adopt, don’t shop), and take every opportunity to meet and play with different dogs. Each will have their own personality traits that may or may not mesh with yours.
But, like people, when you find one you connect with, you just know. Then, you won’t just have the best dog for apartment life, you’ll have a brand new best friend for life.
And suddenly all the hair you’ll be vacuuming off the sofa won’t be so bad.