Living With Large Breeds In Small Apartments
My childhood dream was to own a beautiful German Shepherd that would roam freely in a massive backyard. Sadly, I never left the city life but always wanted that furry friend to keep me company. When I’ve made the decision to adopt a German Shepherd puppy, friends and family assured me that I was making a colossal mistake. They said she was going to turn aggressive and needed a big home to get that needed exercise. They claimed that big breeds had no place in apartment buildings and would only result in constant headaches. After two years of living with a 100 pound German Shepherd and two additional family members inside of an apartment, I can firmly say that those roomers were incorrect. Can large breed dogs live happily inside of small homes? Yes, but there is a catch.
They Adapt Better Than We Do
Dogs are among the most adaptable of species, and that’s likely one of the reasons why they’ve been our coworkers and companions for so many generations. Big or small, dogs have shown an astonishing ability to be happy in every kind of human environment, from massive ranches to tiny urban apartments. Dogs never Google what it would be like to live in a big mansion. Furthermore, many homeless dogs seem to cope just fine with their homeless owners. Almost any dog, regardless of size, can be happy anywhere if the owner is willing to satisfy the animal’s need for exercise. Living in a big home would be nice but you wont lose 40 pounds just because you have two additional hallways.
- The Smaller The Better: Just because a dog is small doesn’t mean he’s suited for apartment life. Some small breeds of dog are far too vocal to meet the requirements of being a good neighbor in an apartment building.
- Aggressive Towards People: From our experience, big city dogs like German Shepherds love kids and other strangers because they’ve been around them for so long. The ranch dogs tend to bark at strangers because their days consist of protecting a big property and seeing only a handful of humans.
- Big Space To Exercise: This is nonsense. Even if your backyard is 100 yards long, its no where near enough to get them the proper workout. You will go to the park to jog and not do tiny circles in the yard right?
Find The Right Neighborhood
According to a Rent.com survey, 83 percent of renters have had difficulty finding a pet-friendly apartment. Some may allow small dogs because they have difficulty understanding dog behavior. For some odd reason they believe that the big dogs will tare the building down. Big-dog-friendly apartments do exist, so don’t give up! If you’re having trouble, consider creating a pet resume. It may sound silly, but this can really work. People were quite terrified of my dog until they saw how trained and friendly she really was.
Landlords Mindset: Landlords are not necessarily skeptical of people with dogs or cats. Responsible pet owners are usually responsible tenants, and landlords who permit pets know they have a larger pool of prospective tenants to draw from. Real estate owners fully understand the pros and cons of allowing pets into their properties. Most but not all will seek additional income from increased rent or pet fees. Personally, our landlord loves dogs and allowed us to adopt with no additional charges.
What You Need Close By:
- Dog Park: This is your secret weapon of socializing your pet while getting that needed exercise. Socializing is essential in the city because of all the different types of dogs and people you will encounter. Your dog will learn to interact with other animals and people while running around with their friends. Read our Dog Park Survival Guide for more details.
- The Weekend Trip: Here in New Jersey we have reservations filled with hiking trails and streams to get your dog a taste of nature. We take our dog hiking every weekend and its only 20 minutes away. It’s a great way to get the family out of the house.
- Walking Paths: Having great places to walk your dog is important. You will walks a lot of miles with your dog so having nice parks with many paths to walk will make your pet ownership much more enjoyable for the both of you. Dogs need new smells to discover.
Training and Exercise
We all know that training dogs is essential to living a stress free life. If you choose to live in an apartment with a big dog, training is extremely important. Keep in mind that loud barking, excessive damage, and aggression towards other tenants can and will evict you. Some folks are terrified of dogs no matter how cute they are. Pit bulls for example just look scary and people want no business with them. Having an extremely friendly dog that listens and acts on command will ensure your trust. You MUST! exercise the dog multiple times per day to keep their focus on resting. We take our dog 4 times per day to walk/play. When we get home, all she does is lay on the floor and wait for the next trip.
The Routine Is Key:
- Training: Everything you do should be revolved around training. The way you feed the dog, who walks through the door first, and have them sit/stay at crosswalks. Over time this will be second nature and your dog will become the most trusted “scary” dog in town. Kids from all over town flock to pet our German Shepherd.
- Exercise: Have at least two hours of solid fun. We take our dog to the park and play fetch for an hour straight twice per day. Find what your pet loves to do and have them moving. Remember, a tired dog, is a good dog. You want no excessive energy in a confined space. They will bark nonstop and eat your couch. Try to keep the times consistent so the dog looks forward to these times and keep calm while home alone. Dog parks are great way of getting the dog moving while you relax and talk with other people.
- Toys: Invest in toys and bones for them to chew. This will keep them occupied and keep them from being loud and obnoxious.
Living In Large Home For 2 Weeks
I know what you’re thinking, he never lived in a large home to see the difference. Lucky, my uncle was headed to Austria to see his father and needed someone to look after his dog and house. This 3 story mansion with giant back yard made me think twice about my theory. There was so much room for activities and Sasha, my German Shepherd, seemed to be in love after just 5 minutes. We played fetch and the convenience of having cool water just seconds away made the large home a no brainier.
What I’ve Discovered 3 Days Later
While enjoying the convenience of having a large yard, my uncles dog was not on the same page. How can he not be as excited as me and Sasha? I quickly discovered that Monty, the other dog, was flabbergasted every time I went near his collar and leash. He was eager to go for a long walk in the big park just blocks away. This shocked me because Sasha was starting to get fed up with the yard as well. She could not run as fast or as far like she could in the open field. Both dogs were bored with the same environment and I found my self taking both to the same places I would when living in the apartment.
What I’ve learned Living In The Big House:
- Only Convenient For You: We all get lazy and having the big yard for them to do their business means more TV time for us and no cleaning waste in the street.
- Never Big Enough: While the yard was gigantic in the eyes of humans, the dog could not accelerate and go the distances it normally would when playing fetch.
- They Always Follow You: The biggest wake up call I’ve gotten in the two weeks was that Sasha would follow me everywhere just like in the apartment. She had no desire to roam around the yard all by herself because she was so attached. My uncle confirmed this with Monty. He followed him everywhere and slept in the room he was in.
- Dogs Love To Explore: Humans love going to the beach or enjoy that long walk by the water. Dogs are exactly the same and love to discover new places and smells.
So Whats The Catch?
While its perfectly acceptable to own large breeds of dogs in any size home, one must understand how to properly do it. The more you understand how dogs think and what is required to raise them, you’ll quickly realize that the idea of a big home is for lazy humans. Large breed dogs that were designed to work in the fields all day must be trained and exercised properly. People tend to think that the back yard is big enough for their pooch to roam around in, right? No more trips to the dog park or hiking trips, right? The size of your home has nothing to do with your dogs exercise program because lets be honest, all they do is follow you around anyway. The catch is simple, you must be that much more responsible because you’ve got less room for error. The dog does not care if you live in a cardboard box or the biggest mansion in town. They just want to be around a leader that provides them with plenty of love and fun.
Dogs love us no matter how we look or what’s in out bank account. Living in an apartment with a big dog may seem like torture, but they could care less. It’s your responsibility to provide the animal with that needed exercise and proper training to keep other tenants calm. You should worry less about the dogs comfort in the home and more about the people around you. Chances are that you will live next to people that have been bitten by large dogs in the past. Its imperative that your dog acts respectful and not express intimidating behaviors. Having that large home will always be better for sure. The convenience of that large back yard and the ability to play inside during stormy weather will always be nice. Big or small, dog will always love you as long as you do your part.
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