10 Pro Tips For Living With A Dog In An Apartment!

August 29th, 2020

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An adorable dog with her ears perched, as if awaiting a command.

Table of Contents

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links for various pet products. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Nowadays, a lot of dogs are living the city life. Apparently, small cramped apartments in high-rise buildings haven’t discouraged eager adopters!

But at first thought, it may seem like we’re doing our dogs a disservice. How can dogs thrive in an environment where there’s no room to run and jump around?

Well, apartment living doesn’t have to mean sentencing your dog to a substandard life. In this article, we’ll share our best tips on how you can up your apartment living game as a dog owner.

Inside The Apartment

We’ll start inside the apartment. Regardless of if you’ve yet to move into one, or you’re already settled in, these practical tips are perfect for current and prospective dog owners.

You Don’t Necessarily Need Big Space.

Before jumping into the tips, we’d like to share something that may seem counterintuitive: you don’t necessarily need a big apartment to have a dog.

But what about the high-energy dogs? What about all the zoomies?

Well, the purpose of the apartment is to be a home for both you and your dog. Consider this: you could be a “high-energy human,” but you aren’t letting all that energy off indoors, are you?

Similarly, dogs (and perhaps little kids as well!) may occasionally go crazy indoors. But inside the apartment certainly isn’t the proper place for a dog to run wild.

Inside is for settling and resting. Outside is for crazies and zoomies!

Thus, you don’t need to have a very large apartment, even if you want a big dog–but make sure you take responsibility for training your dog to settle down indoors. Teach them to treat the apartment as their home.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should completely disregard the size of an apartment. You’ll still need ample space for things like a bed and a crate, so make sure you don’t go for anything too small…

However, this is just to say that space might not matter as much to you as you might think, as long as you implement our next tips!

1. Use Space Efficiently

Sounds like a no-brainer, right? In a tight city apartment, you have to find ways to use space efficiently.

This could easily be the most effective tip we have, as well as the one that’s most fun to implement. Make sure you get creative juices flowing as we dive into these specific tips!

Knock Two Birds Out With One Stone With Your Furniture

One thing I learned soon after I got Yuna was how quickly we racked up dog toys and supplies. Maybe you can relate!

More dog toys require more storage. However, you don’t necessarily have to buy a huge chest to put in the middle of your living room to put them all.

Instead, take advantage of furniture that doubles as storage. We have these leather storage stools that can hold some of Yuna’s toys.

A dog posing next to two of her favorite dog toys, showing off how household stools can double as storage containers.
Lady and the Tramp live in this little stool when they're not playing with Yuna.

Also, we got this container/table from IKEA which stores some of Yuna’s toys (equivalent storage table by Lavish Home on Amazon here). It is also my bedside table.

A picture showing a bedroom, focusing on a bedside table that doubles as a storage for dog toys.
Hello porcupine/hedgehog sitting on top of the bedside table (which of course contains more toys!)

Take Advantage of Heights

Apartment floor plans typically only show the length and width dimensions of the unit.

However, don’t forget that there is significant space between your ground and your ceiling as well!

Utilizing this can really help you save space. For example, if your desk is large and tall enough, you could fit a crate or dog bed underneath it without spending more of your square footage.

Take advantage of things like large cabinets. Put additional basket bins on top of them to hold your dog’s collars and leashes.

We also put Yuna’s food containers on top of our kitchen counters or refrigerator so our cabinets can be reserved for human foods. It also still keeps all the dog food out of reach from Yuna!

2. Carve Out An Area Your Dog Can Call Theirs

Even in a small apartment, you should dedicate a part of the place your dog can call theirs. It’ll be their bedroom, if you will!

This can be a crate or a bed where they can comfortably rest whenever they want. A playpen may also be an option to help with training, but many city apartments typically don’t have the space.

Having a place like this for your dog to settle will help them adjust faster if you’re just settling in.

Also, if they love their bedroom, they’ll be less likely to jump all over your other furniture.

We dedicated a cozy little corner of the living room for Yuna and her big PetFusion bed. She even gets a window view, and the windowsill is decorated with pieces of her favorite Disney dog gear!

An adorable yellow Lab resting on her bed in a quiet corner of the apartment.
Yuna's private little corner.

3. Consider Crate Training

While it isn’t strictly required that you crate train your dog, there are a myriad of benefits for doing so, especially in an apartment.

Crate training builds on the previous tip where your dog should have a place all to themselves to settle and relax: their home within a home.

Additional benefits include easier house training, providing a safe refuge, and keeping them safe while you’re not around.

This guide by PreventiveVet is very comprehensive and will get you crate training your dog in no time.

4. Consider Indoor or Balcony Potty Training

We apartment-living dog owners don’t have the luxury of a quickly accessible backyard.

Instead, when our dogs need to potty, we have to take a journey down the elevator first. If your dog really really needs to go, this can be problematic.

The obvious solution, then, is indoor potty training. Giving your dog their own indoor bathroom and teaching them how to use it can give you peace of mind knowing that your dog has a backup option to do their business.

It’s also perfect for when you’re gone at work–your dog won’t have to wait for you to come home to relieve themselves.

You could get started by setting up a few absorbent potty pads somewhere. If you set them up against a wall, make sure you protect the walls with a few pads as well.

Nowadays, there are also ways to make an indoor toilet feel more natural for your pet, including these artificial grass patch litters for dogs.

For the lucky ones with balconies, consider setting up a relief area for your pet there to save some space indoors. Just ensure that your balcony is dog-safe!

5. Puppy Proofing Your Apartment

Dogs are curious creatures with a flair for mischief! Let’s talk now about how to puppy proof your apartment to keep them out of trouble.

Keep It Clean!

If you weren’t big on doing chores before, hopefully having a dog will force you into them. That’s how it worked for me after I got Yuna anyway!

A clean apartment is almost a prerequisite to having a dog. Food stains on furniture or dirty clothes lying around can easily make dogs sick if they decide to eat them.

Thus, step one should be cleaning up the apartment. In no particular order, here are some suggestions:

  • Vacuuming: We vacuum the carpet once a week with our Bissell vacuum cleaner designed for pet hair. But it also picks up any food crumbs, dust, or other substances that may be harmful to dogs.
  • Mopping: Swiffer up those non-carpet spaces, especially the kitchen. We all joke about our dogs cleaning up our food scraps off the floor, but they could easily ingest something poisonous.
  • Loose clothes: Any clothes on the floor is a big no-no.
  • Loose shoes: Some dogs really like to chew up shoes. Consider using a shoe rack and keeping it away from your dog if it becomes a problem.

Keep It Safe!

The bulk of puppy proofing your apartment comes in this step–making sure everything’s safe.

As a fun little exercise, get down on all fours to view your apartment the way your dog sees it. Take note of the following things:

  • Trash cans: Trash, especially kitchen trash, can get really smelly and enticing for your dog. Make sure you take the trash out often, or consider using electric or pedal-activated trash can lids so it’s harder for your dog to get into.
  • Wires: Take care of any loose wires under desks, or behind furniture. Keep them out of your dog’s reach or secure them to the wall.
  • Low coffee/bedside tables: If you have any low coffee tables or bedside tables, make sure not to put anything dangerous on them. Also, a dog can easily knock things over at this height with their body or tail, so don’t put any vases or other fragile items here.
  • Toxic substances: Common household items that are toxic to dogs include: chocolate, coffee, alcohol, grapes, tomatoes, onions, garlic, macadamia nuts, over-the-counter medications, antifreeze, certain plants and flowers. Always lookup whether an item might be toxic for your dog, and keep all these things in cabinets and out of reach to be safe.

Keep It Neighbor-Friendly!

Finally, you don’t want to make yourself the enemy of all your neighbors. Few things tickle more nerves than a neighbor’s rowdy dog.

A cute yellow Lab closing her eyes at the camera.
Barking dogs? One of my pet peeves 😛

Teaching your dog to bark as well as be quiet on command can be very useful here. However, some dogs are just yappers. Here are some tips to help keep barking at a minimum.

  • Window blinds: If your dog barks at passing humans or squirrels, consider closing up the window blinds whenever you leave them alone in the house. No external stimulus, fewer barks.
  • Doorbell signs: Some dogs are easily triggered by door knocks or a doorbell. Putting up a sign next to your door warning people of this and having them text or call you instead can save a barking frenzy.
  • Ample exercise: An exercised dog is generally a good dog. Before leaving your dog at home for longer periods of time, make sure they’re well exercised.
  • Mental stimulation: A stuffed Kong can keep your dog occupied for a while. In addition, later in the article we’ll cover some pet technology that you can take advantage of to keep an eye on your dog when you’re away.

6. Have Handy Supplies At The Door

We recommend that near your front door, you have a couple supplies at the ready. These supplies are specifically for right before you leave the house for a walk, and after returning home from one:

  • Poop bags: With a stash of these at your door, now you’ll never forget these.
  • Spare collar & leash: Just in case you forget to “dress up” your dog by the time you reach the door.
  • Microfiber towel: In a rainy city such as Seattle, we always keep a large microfiber towel near the door. At some point, your dog will definitely come home wet and dirty, and you should definitely dry them off at the door before they run wild inside!
  • Dog wipes: This is optional, but we really like keeping our apartment and Yuna clean! I use a couple dog grooming wipes after Yuna’s final walk to wipe down her paws and body.

Other Tips & Apartment Logistics

Our previous tips were hacks and suggestions for the interior of your apartment. Here, we have some additional tips that aren’t exactly hacks you can implement indoors, but are still must-knows.

7. Apartment Logistics Checklist

Before moving your dog into a new apartment (or getting a new dog!), you have some homework to do:

  • Check that your breed is allowed: Many dog-friendly apartments place restrictions on what breeds (and sizes) are allowed. Be sure you’re aware of this. If you’ve got a mixed breed where one of the breeds is not allowed, contact the leasing office for their specific policies.
  • Designated pet areas: City apartment complexes know that dog ownership is on the rise, and will have a designated pet relief area somewhere in the building. Know if your apartment has one, and try choosing a unit that’s closer to it.
  • Consider the first floor: Consider how the location of your unit will affect your ability to get your dog outside quickly. Needless to say, it’ll be much more convenient if you choose a unit on the first floor.

8. Satisfying High-Energy Dogs With Mental Stimulation

So now you’re all settled in. But maybe “settling in” is the last thing your high-energy dog wants to do right now!

A dog rolling over on her side, offering the camera an adorable pose.

In a small apartment, using physical activities to satisfy your dog’s energy-level can only get you so far. Instead, try some mental stimulation games to keep them occupied.

We touched on this before, but food dispensing toys such as Kongs are brilliant for this. Stuff a Kong, freeze it up, and let your dog go to work.

Other games, such as hide and seek and scavenger hunts, are also great brain work games for your dog. Our article below talks about these and other potential activities to try.

READ: 24 Ways To Exercise Your Dog!

Finally, maybe some interactive “puzzle” toys will do! Yuna has this Hide-A-Squirrel toy from Outward Hound which we play with on occasion.

9. Know Your Options When You’re At Work

For the majority of dogs, being cooped up in a small apartment by themselves for 8 hours or longer is pretty unhealthy.

We’re very lucky to be able to bring Yuna to work everyday. However, for those less fortunate, you may need a plan for your dog while you’re at work.

Today, it’s easier than ever to find and hire a dog walker. Apps like Rover connect you with local, certified dog walkers.

Most US cities will also have doggy daycare services. Costs of daycare can really add up, but it’s worth letting your dog socialize and play under professional supervision!

10. Try Pet Technology

Use your dog as an excuse to try out some of the cool new pet tech and gadgets being developed!

One class of popular pet tech gadgets are cameras that let you spy on your pet while you’re away. Among the most successful of these products is the Furbo Dog Camera, which lets you talk to your pet and also feed them treats.

You could also check out Whistle’s pet activity tracker. It tracks your dog’s activity and estimates calorie burn, so you can better feed and exercise them as required.

Get out there and explore all the trendy pet tech products–it’ll be a ton of fun.


Bringing a dog into an apartment doesn’t have to feel like you’re subjecting them to a second-rate life.

With these tips, you can make living with a dog in an apartment much more convenient and interesting for the both of you!

What did you think about these tips? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments.

And be sure to follow Yuna on Instagram and Pinterest for daily updates and more free dog tips!

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Andrea

    Great tips! Well researched!

    1. Alexander

      Thanks so much Andrea, we really appreciate it!

  2. Afton Jackson

    Your tip about dedicating a space in the apartment to the dog, even if it’s small, really helped to read. My Fiance and I were trying to figure out how we were going to plan out our move to another living space with our dog since the dog has gotten used to roaming around a lot in its favorite part of the house. When we finally find an apartment we can settle down and save money in, I’ll make sure I keep your tips in check so our dog won’t feel too alienated by the new space.

    1. Alexander

      Thank you, I’m glad you found the tips useful! All the best with your upcoming move.

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