How to Live in an Apartment with a Dog

Owning a dog is such an amazing experience. They’re wonderful companions and additions to families. If you’re thinking about getting a dog, we truly encourage. But as with all animals, it’s important to do your research before welcoming a dog into your home. One of the things you’ll need to consider is the type of home you’re bringing a dog into.

Many people consider living in an apartment with a dog cruel. Is it fair to leave a dog cooped up in an apartment all day, when they should be running around in a yard? It’s probably better to get a smaller animal like a cat or fish, right?

The truth is that it’s totally possible to live in an apartment with a dog. Being in an apartment doesn’t have to lower your quality of life, or that of your pup. No matter how big or small your apartment it, as long as your lifestyle fits your dog’s, plenty of dogs can live happy, fulfilling lives in apartments.

Here are some tips for living in an apartment with a dog.

Choosing the Right Breed

A lot of what living in an apartment with a dog comes down to is choosing the right dog. If you don’t have a yard, you’re not going to want a breed that needs to go out into the yard a few times a day to burn off energy.

When looking for a dog to live with you in your apartment, choosing a breed that low-energy is the best call.

When it comes to size, it might seem reasonable to assume that smaller dogs will do best in apartments. But does size really matter?

As it turns out, it doesn’t matter as much as your dog’s energy levels do. There are plenty of large breeds, like Greyhounds, that are relatively low energy and do well in apartments. On the other hand, lots of small dogs, like Russell Terriers, are generally too energetic to live comfortably in an apartment.

If size is a personal preference of yours, there are large breeds like Greyhounds, medium-sized breeds like Barbets, and small breeds like Pugs that are all fit for apartment life.

Another thing that’s important to consider is a dog’s noise level. Living in an apartment complex means sharing close quarters with your neighbors. If the breed you choose has a tendency to be yappy, you can bet you won’t be making friends with your neighbors.

While all dogs bark, since it’s a huge part of how they communicate with us and with each other, some breeds are more prone to being yappy than others. Beagles, for example, bark a lot, which your neighbors certainly won’t appreciate. On the other hand, a dog like a Bulldog tends to be a quieter breed that barks less often.

You should also consider how easy your chosen breed is to train. You’ll want a breed that’s easy to train if you’re living in an apartment. If you’re looking to train your dog as a guard dog for your apartment, there are some breeds that are better fits as apartment guard dogs than others, like Bulldogs.

While there are plenty of breeds to choose from when it comes to an apartment-friendly dog, below is a list of some of the best breeds for this type of environment.

Best Breeds for Apartments

Adjusting to an Apartment

When it comes to living in close quarters with other neighbors and keeping your dog in an apartment, there are a few things you’ll need to consider.

Being a Polite Neighbor

Living in a communal space means that you’ll want to make sure that your dog is properly trained. If your dog keeps barking, or if he doesn’t know how to greet neighbors politely, you might end up with some complaints.

It’s worth putting in the time to train your dog to be a polite neighbor. This means making sure that your dog is quiet, behaves nicely on a leash without jumping or pulling when you bring him outside into your apartment building’s communal spaces, and isn’t destructive.

Socializing your dog properly will be a very important part of making sure he’s a polite neighbor. It’s best to start socializing as early in your dog’s life as possible. Expose your dog to new people and things, and give him treats when he reacts the way you want him to. For example, when he meets a new person, if he sniffs the person and doesn’t bark or jump up, you can give him a treat for being polite.

As you continue this process, your dog will learn that the right way to greet other people in your apartment complex is with a gentle sniff. Your neighbors will appreciate you and your dog for being so respectful.

Noise Desensitization

When it comes to actually bringing your dog home, one of the first things you’ll need to do is work on noise desensitization. Living in an apartment complex means listening to your neighbors, and a dog’s ears are incredibly sensitive. He’ll be able to pick up on sounds that you’re not aware of at all! All this stimulation might encourage him to bark.

Over time, he’ll start getting used to all of this noise. You can help encourage good behavior by keeping an eye on your dog throughout the day. If your dog notices a noise and seems alerted by it, intercept him before he can bark. Tell him “good dog” and treat him, and then quickly distract him with something else like a favorite toy before he can start barking. As he learns that other people making noise in your complex, reward him whenever he chooses to be quiet, and ignore him if he starts to bark. Eventually he’ll learn that being quiet gets him treats, while barking only gets him ignored.

Getting into a Routine

Getting into a daily routine will also help both you and your pup. With consistency, your dog will start to learn when during the day it’s playtime, and when it’s time for him to rest. This is especially helpful if you work outside of the home.

Potty Training

Be aware that if you choose to have a dog in your apartment, having your dog’s potty breaks will be more work for you. Living in an apartment means you won’t be able to just open your door and let your dog into the yard. Instead, you’ll have to leash him up and bring him outside yourself.

The most important thing when it comes to potty training a dog, especially in an apartment building, is routine. Setting up a consistent routine will help your dog know when it’s time to go, and—more importantly—when it isn’t.


Although the breeds listed above are, in general, lower energy dogs, that doesn’t mean they don’t require any exercise at all.

In fact, properly exercising your dog is probably even more important if you’re living in an apartment complex. You’ve probably heard the saying “A tired dog is a good dog” before, and dog lovers and owners say this for a reason. If a dog starts getting bored, that’s when they also start getting destructive. They might engage in behaviors like chewing up furniture or getting into things they shouldn’t, like your garbage can.

They might also howl or bark in an attempt to pass the time, and that’s something that could lead to some tension between you and your neighbors.

Walks are the most obvious way to get your dog the exercise he needs, plus they double as an opportunity for your pup to relieve himself. But there are ways to exercise your dog in your apartment, too. If you have the space, you can play a few rounds of fetch. Or, if you have a rope, tug is a great way to tire your dog out too.

And don’t forget that physical exercise isn’t the only kind of exercise your dog needs. It’s just as important to exercise his mind. Food puzzles, Kong toys filled with treats, and snuffle mats are all ways you can get your dog’s mind moving.

If you work outside of your home, you might also want to consider hiring a dog walker to come and take your dog out while you’re at work. This will make sure your dog has a chance to relieve himself somewhere other than inside your apartment, and it also helps him get a little extra exercise.

If you’re an avid hiker, or considering getting into hiking, consider choosing a breed that adapts well to apartment life and that will also do well on hikes, like a Tibetan Terrier. Hiking is a great way for both you and your dog to get some exercise—just make sure you bring your camera with you so you can get some good pictures of your pup while you’re on your adventure!


The process of adjusting to apartment life for a dog might, at first glance, seem complicated. It may also seem like having a dog in an apartment is cruel, and that a dog should have a yard to run around in.

Even when people do bring dogs into their apartments, many assume that smaller dogs are the best for apartment living.

In truth, the size of a dog matters much less than its energy level. And, as long as you adequately train and exercise your pup, both of you will be able to live perfectly happy lives together in your apartment.