Brown Dog Tugging on a red, green, yellow braided Rope Toy Held by a Human. Dog Playing in Apartment. Christmas Tree.
Your Dog And Your Life

The Ultimate Guide to Living Happily with a Dog in an Apartment

Living with a dog in an apartment can be ruff if you’re inexperienced! Luckily, we have all the tips and tricks to make things easier for you and your furry friend—and your neighbors.

Whether you’re worried about your next move, looking into adopting a new dog, or already struggling with behavioral problems, this guide has you covered!

Table of Contents:

Which Breeds are best for Apartment Living?

If you’re looking to adopt a dog, you’re likely wondering which can live in an apartment happily and healthily.

When considering a particular breed, think about the following:

  • Size
  • Energy level
  • Temperament
  • Age


Typically, dogs who live happily in apartments are small breeds. While there are exceptions, big dogs tend to need big yards and space to run. They can’t get their energy out inside an apartment—and you don’t want them to try!

Related Reading: The 10 Best Large Dog Breeds For Apartment Life

Energy level

Keeping an energetic large breed in an apartment can lead to very angry neighbors, as the dog will likely still try to run inside to get the exercise they need. Big dogs have heavy paws that make noise, which is especially problematic if you have neighbors on the floor below.

This isn’t as problematic if you have a smaller dog, as they won’t make quite as much noise. Still, you may want to avoid keeping any energetic breed inside your apartment.

It’s simply unfair to the dog not to have a yard to run in. Lack of exercise will lead to boredom, which can cause behavioral problems such as barking or chewing things that aren’t theirs.


You also want to consider the dog’s temperament. Dogs that were bred to guard, for example, might not do well surrounded by neighbors. And it’s not fair to expect a dog known for being talkative to stop barking altogether.

Related Reading: The 12 Best Low-Maintenance Dogs For Apartments

dog in apartment


Next, we have the age of the dog. We all know that puppies are much more energetic and rambunctious than elderly dogs!

If you want a laid-back, low-energy apartment dog that’s likely already trained to behave well, consider adopting an older dog from your local shelter. It’ll be a win-win for you both!

Lastly, you should look into your local laws and any restrictions your apartment building may have. For example, some cities don’t allow Pitbulls due to misconceptions about the breed. In addition, some complexes have restrictions on weight, size, and breed.

Related Reading: The 10 Best Mixed Dog Breeds For Apartments

One of the worst things you can do for you and your dog is to bring them into a living situation where they aren’t allowed. It is a risky move that will likely end in you losing your dog, which is the last thing any of us want!

Do Apartment Complexes Allow Dogs?

The good news for dog owners is that 70% of people living in apartments own pets.

However, many of them did struggle to find pet-friendly buildings. Not all buildings that allow pets are dog-friendly, either, especially if you have a large dog.

It is up to a landlord whether or not they allow dogs in their buildings. They can also place restrictions on breed and weight, as well as the number of pets you may keep in your apartment.

For example, they might not allow breeds they deem aggressive, such as Rottweilers. They may also ban dogs over a specific weight limit. And if you already have one or two pets, you may not be allowed to adopt a new dog.

Landlords will likely charge you to keep a dog in your apartment, though the types of payments vary. You might pay a one-time fee, or they may add a pet fee to your monthly rent.

Pet deposits are also common. You will get a deposit back when you move out, as long as your dog doesn’t damage the apartment in any way.

If you have a large dog, you may be charged more than tenants with smaller breeds.

When it comes to looking for a dog-friendly apartment, you’ll likely have the best luck with larger apartments, or those with a yard.

Landlords are more likely to find these suitable for dogs than smaller apartments where your dog doesn’t have an outdoor space. They’re not completely wrong, either—these apartments typically are more dog-friendly.

However, they also tend to be more costly. If you can’t get an apartment like this, try calling around until you find an apartment suited to you that does allow dogs.

Do Apartment Complexes Allow Service Dogs?

service dog in apartment

Legally, your landlord cannot deny your service dog.

It is illegal under the Fair Housing Act, as it counts as discrimination against those with disabilities.

Your landlord also cannot refuse to accommodate your service dog based on weight, breed, or inability to pay pet fees.

But if you’re hearing this as someone without a service dog and considering lying about your pet as a workaround, please think again!

While it might seem like a simple, harmless solution, it actually makes life harder for those with disabilities to get the accommodations they need—especially if you end up caught in your lie, which is very likely!

How to Convince a Landlord to Allow Dogs in an Apartment

It’s devastating to hear that your landlord won’t allow your dog to live in your apartment with you. While we can’t guarantee they’ll change their mind, we can give you some tips for convincing them.

The first and most important thing is that, if you already have a dog, you speak to your landlord before you agree to move or sign any paperwork.

Tell them your dog’s breed and size, and ask about any pet deposits or fees. This way, neither of you will be surprised later.

If the landlord says no, you can try to show that you and your dog are great tenants. You can get references, such as your veterinarian or your old landlord, to vouch for you on your dog’s behavior, health, and your own history of paying rent on time and leaving your old apartment in great condition.

You’ll also want paperwork from your vet verifying your dog is up-to-date on vaccines. Get a dog license, if you don’t have one already.

For an approach that’s more likely to tug at your landlord’s heartstrings, bring photos of your furry friend.

You can also try introducing your landlord and your dog. However, you must get permission from the landlord before doing this! Do not show up with your dog at random, as this might actually harm your chances if your landlord isn’t an animal lover.

If you’re already living in the apartment and want to adopt a dog, many of these tips can still work! If you’re flexible about the dog you adopt, you can ask your landlord what kind of dog they would allow in the complex—maybe they’re okay with small breeds, but not large ones; or elderly dogs, but not puppies.

Related Reading: Are Greyhounds Good Apartment Dogs?

At the end of the day, you also have to recognize that the no-pet policy did not begin with you, and it is unlikely to end with you either. If your landlord doesn’t allow dogs, it’s fairly unlikely they’ll change their mind.

You might have to find another place to live or wait until you move to adopt a pup of your own.

How to Pet-Proof Your Apartment

Whenever you adopt a new dog, you want to make sure their new home is safe for them. This is doubly true if you’re getting a puppy!

Some pups chew on everything, so the first step is to ensure that your floors are tidy. If you typically leave something on the floor, like your slippers or dirty clothes, you might want to find a new place for them.

You may also consider temporarily removing things from the bottom shelves of your bookcases, and anything else low enough for your new fur baby to reach.

Especially if it’s valuable to you—make sure it’s put away somewhere inaccessible, to prevent any heartache later on!

Next, you’ll want to look for things that are unsafe for your dog and put them out of their reach. This includes things like cleaning supplies, wires and cables, or plants that are toxic to dogs.

For charging cables or other wires that can’t be removed from reach, try tucking them behind furniture or enclosing them in a box so that they’re out of sight.

White miniature poodle in foreground of large empty apartment renovation. Mam painting walls. Dusty Unfinished Floor.

If your pup is extra crafty and can get into cabinets, purchase latches for the doors. To keep them off the stairs or out of a room with no door, set up a baby gate to block their access.

For those who also own a cat, you’ll probably want to block off the litter box as well so that your dog doesn’t sneak any “treats” from inside. And, you should make sure kitty has their own space to chill without any wet puppy noses in their face!

Lastly, once everything your dog can’t access is put well out of their reach, is the fun part! Create a space for your dog to enjoy.

This could be a bed or crate, or just an area of the room that’s all theirs. Include fun toys, a water bowl, and a comfy place to lie!

How to Keep Your Pup Happy Without a Yard

One of the most difficult aspects of apartment life with a dog is the lack of yard space. Where will your dog use the bathroom? How will they get the exercise they need throughout the day?

Although it takes some extra effort, keeping a dog happy without a yard isn’t always impossible.

Related Reading: Your Guide To Living With A Dog In An Upstairs Apartment

Potty Training without a Yard

If you don’t have a yard, you have two options:

  • Bring your dog on frequent walks, or
  • Potty train your dog indoors

The first solution is pretty simple. It just means getting up every few hours to walk your dog outside and let them do their business.

Some pet owners prefer this to dedicating a space in their apartment to an indoor potty area.

But if you don’t want to bring your dog outside so frequently, or can’t, indoor potty training is a great option!

You can train your dog to use the bathroom indoors with either an indoor dog potty, dog litterbox, or puppy pee pads—and don’t forget lots of treats during the training process!

Exercising a Dog without a Yard

Exercising a dog without a yard has its own challenges, but it might not take as much work as you think.

Whether or not you have a yard, you should be walking your dog daily. Depending on your dog’s energy requirements, and how much exercise they’re used to, some dogs might need a longer walk or even two or three daily walks in order to adjust to apartment life.

When possible, you should bring your dog outside to release some energy when you see that they’re becoming playful or rambunctious.

If you have a dog park nearby, this can be a great replacement for a yard. It’ll give your dog a nice big area to run around and play off-leash. Maybe they can even meet some buddies!

Keep in mind while using dog parks that your dog will likely need a license, be up-to-date on their vaccines, and spayed or neutered. They’ll also need to be well-behaved.

If your dog is aggressive toward other dogs, dog parks are not a good option for them!

Lastly, toys will keep your pup occupied indoors. Depending on the size of your dog and how much noise they make, a game of fetch with a chew toy may or may not be possible.

You can also buy puzzle toys to keep your dog’s mind occupied. This way, they can play indoors without disturbing your neighbors.

Dealing With Noise and Neighbors

Black and White photo. Barking furry collie dog with front paws on cement wall. Old apartment building exterior in background.

What do you do if your neighbor begins complaining that your dog barks all day while you’re at work, or if you’re on an upper floor and the neighbors below can hear your pup running around?

Living so close to other people can be difficult, and you probably don’t want to be the noisy neighbor in the building! It can be difficult to get a dog to be quiet when they don’t understand why you’re asking it of them in the first place.

However, you shouldn’t lose hope if you’re in this situation. It might take time and patience, but proper training can likely solve your problem.

One solution is teaching your dog the “quiet” command. You can also socialize your dog if barking at neighbors is the problem.

If your dog gets upset when you leave the apartment, you’ll want to teach them that it’s okay to be alone. This is time-consuming, but worth it in the long-term!

Dogs might also be loud because they are bored or have too much energy built up. If your dog is stomping around the apartment, perhaps a longer walk, playtime outside, or some time at a dog park will help them calm down.

Excessive barking can also be caused by boredom, so again, exercise might be a simple solution!


Lastly, your dog might be feeling territorial, insecure, or anxious.

If your territorial dog is barking at a particular neighbor, you might want to ask them to meet your dog. Just ensure that you can do so safely—if your dog is aggressive and bites, you’ll have an even bigger problem on your hands.

You can also try teaching them the “quiet” command, though this will only work when you’re at home.

Their own space

Territorial or insecure dogs may also need a quiet, comfortable place in the apartment to stay, especially when you’re not home. This could be a room away from the door, or their crate.

While you shouldn’t leave your dog locked in a crate for extended periods, crate training your dog gives them a safe place to go.

Wherever their “place” in the house is, it should include lots of comfort items, like beds, blankets, and toys.

You might also try pulling the blinds so your dog is less apt to see things outdoors that they can bark at.

Separation anxiety

Lastly, separation anxiety can be difficult to cure. You can try creating a place in your home where your dog feels safe, like we talked about above. You can also work with them by leaving the house for short amounts of time at first, building up to longer periods.

If your dog continues to struggle, you should ask your veterinarian, trainer, or a dog behaviorist about the problem. Sometimes, you need a professional to handle things!

Helping Dogs Adjust to Living a Smaller Space

It can be difficult moving from a house with a yard, to a tiny apartment with no outdoor space—for both humans and dogs!

If your pup is used to having room to roam, there are plenty of ways to help them adapt to apartment life.

If you can, bring your dog to the apartment before move-in day. This gives them a chance to get used to the sights, sounds, and smells of your new place.

When you do move your dog in, bring their things too! Give them an area of their own with familiar objects and smells.

It’s also important to ensure your dog gets outdoors as much as possible. This is especially important if they were formerly used to going outside in the back yard frequently. Try taking longer walks, or visiting a local dog park.

Puzzle toys can also keep dogs occupied and quiet when you need them to burn some energy without disrupting the neighbors.

Lastly, sticking to your average daily routine, in whatever ways you can, will help your dog immensely. Even though everything around them is changing, they can still count on dinner and walks to be on time!