How to Keep a Dog Happy in a Small Apartment [5 Ways]

You can absolutely have a dog in your apartment (if your lease allows!). Here are five helpful ways to ensure that you and your pet stay happy and healthy.

Dogs are, arguably and for good reason, the most popular pet in the world. They’re loyal, smart, and full of endless joy! It’s no wonder that these faithful companions quickly become family members. 

Like your children, when you move, you probably look for homes that will be suitable for your pup. Pet-friendly doesn’t mean your dog will be happy there, though. It means that pets are welcome, but it’s up to you to ensure Fido is happy wherever you move.

Having a dog inside a small apartment is often a recipe for disaster if you don’t plan ahead. Between chewing, barking, and housetraining, it takes a lot of work to mix an apartment and pets.

As a concerned pet owner, you can keep your pup happy and healthy in homes of any size. Follow these five guidelines to turn your limited square footage into a pleasant environment for Fido and yourself!

1. Start With Basic Safety Measures

You’re probably excited to see how your pup handles their new home, but put the brakes on and don’t go rushing in just yet. Before you bring your dog into the apartment, you need to scout out the area for possible safety hazards.

It’s almost a guarantee that if you don’t investigate first, Fido will find those dangers before you have a chance to! Dogs are notoriously curious and love to sniff everything. They also want to see what’s on the other side of every door and window!

They can let their natural genes come out to play as they scout around their new environment, as long as you take precautions. 

Only bring your pets into the apartment after you have:

  • Opened and closed all the windows to ensure the screens are secure and the windows lock
  • Checked for open outlets along the floor that a curious pup could get hurt with
  • Moved all accessible wires out of chewing reach
  • Secured any easy-to-open doors
  • Stored all chemicals out of reach or locked them up

It’s our job as responsible pet owners to keep our pups safe. This starts with the environment that we place them in, and planning ahead is necessary! 

This is by no means an exhaustive list of hazards. The American Veterinary Medical Association has more information for you to use to protect your friend.

2. Add Daily Exercise to Your Schedule

Everyone needs exercise, including dogs.  Certain breeds are prone to health conditions such as joint degeneration, digestive issues, and obesity. Lack of exercise can cause health problems to develop or intensify.

Every dog is unique, and your vet can guide you on the amount of exercise and the level of strenuousness Fido needs. Most dogs are content with a few walks around the block each day and some rigorous fetch in the house before bed. 

Consider hiring a local dog walker if you can’t get away during the day to walk your pet. They’re often inexpensive, especially if they’re already walking other pets in your area.

When you live in an apartment building where your neighbors are other working people with dogs, you could start a dog-walking group! 

Talk to the pet owners in your complex to see if they’d like going in with you to hire someone for walks at the same time. Then call around to local dog sitting companies to get the best deal with a reputable business.

In addition to walks, pups love playtime, and it’s beneficial for you, too! Find ways to exercise your dog through games every day. They’ll be happier, and you’ll quickly feel less stressed!

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3. Give Them Their Own Space

Animals don’t need access to everywhere in the apartment. It’s not always safe for them or you. They need structure and boundaries, but they also need their own safe space.

As you’re unpacking, make sure you create an area completely pet-friendly for your pup. This could be around their pet bed or form a gated space to ensure they stay safe while you’re at work, or the majority of the house. 

Wherever you decide to make Fido’s free-roam area, double-check for all safety hazards. Then, add dog toys, the food and water dish, and whatever else your dog will need.

In addition to their pet accessories, you can use furniture that’s dog-hair approved. This reduces the stress of training your dog to stay off the couch and extends their allowed space. It also gives you the extra love you get when your pup cuddles on the sofa with you.

4. Find Outside Entertainment Options

Going for walks around the neighbourhood and playing in your home are all important. Getting out of the area for more entertainment can be fun, too!

If you’d like to set up pet play dates for your dog, there are apps that you can download if there are no groups in your area to join. 

These apps, like BarkHappy, can guide you to all the pet-friendly things to do wherever you are. You can meet other pet owners and schedule play dates!

Check around for dog-friendly restaurants and shops. There are probably more than you realize! 

When you take Fido out for entertainment around other people, be sure to follow basic pet etiquette. Keep your dog on a leash unless otherwise advised. Clean up after any messes. 

If you have an incessant barker, consider more training before going to public places.

Also Read: 5 Clever Solutions for Awkward Spaces

5. Use Technology to Make Their Lives More Fun

For some dogs and their owners, separation anxiety is a real thing. Whether your pup misses you too much, or you miss them, today, some gadgets make being apart easier for you both.

From pet cameras to automatic feeders, here are some 21st-century gizmos to help your pup stay healthy in your apartment:

  • A dog camera to livestream your pet and dispense pup treats on your command
  • Automatic pet feeders. Program them to dispense food at set times or the touch of a button on your phone
  • Interactive toys so you can talk to and play with Fido when you’re not home

Most dogs need frequent attention, and leaving them in a small apartment can be unhealthy if you’re gone a lot. But for regular working hours, these handy tech-smart items will keep you both happy!


Small apartments and dogs don’t always mix. Most pups need a lot of structure to keep them from being their naturally fun-loving but destructive selves.

Keeping your canine companion happy and healthy when you are living in limited space isn’t impossible. With these five tips, you and Fido will make apartment-living a comfortable time together!

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