They say a dog is a man’s best friend — and with 63.4 million Americans owning dogs, they might be onto something.
Unfortunately, apartment living isn’t always conducive to pet ownership. While some apartments don’t allow pets at all, others are pet-friendly.
Are you considering moving into a new apartment with a dog? If so, we can help you create a pet-friendly space that will keep you, your pooch, and your landlord happy!
Grab your pup’s leash and treats and let’s check out some of the best dog apartment hacks, including design advice and tips on being a considerate pet owner.
Find a Pet-Friendly Apartment Building
First things first. If you have a dog or are planning to move into an apartment and get one, it needs to be a pet-friendly building.
Certain apartment complexes have rules against oversized dogs, while pups weighing under a certain amount are okay. Check all of the apartment’s rules and regulations before signing a lease.
Apartments that allow dogs are often filled with more pet-friendly people. That means you can avoid glares and eye rolls in the elevator.
You want your apartment living experience to be a positive one, so find a place that accepts both you and your pup with open arms.
Choose a Pet-Friendly Neighborhood
The outside of your apartment is just as important as the inside.
Living in an apartment can be a bit cramped for some dogs. Your pooch needs plenty of exercise and space to run around and be free!
Choose a neighborhood that boasts plenty of parks — both human and dog — with walking paths and sidewalks. Some apartments have picnic tables, playgrounds, and dog parks right on the grounds.
Washington D.C. offers the perfect balance of big city living and the rural lifestyle both you and your dog will love.
Keep a Tidy Apartment
Just because you live in a dog apartment doesn’t mean everyone needs to know it. Keeping your living space neat, clean, and organized is the key to happy living for both you and your pooch.
Here are a few ways to create a dog apartment to be proud of.
Organize Your Pup’s Toys
Your dog’s toys shouldn’t be landmines throughout your apartment. Not only is this dangerous, but unsightly.
Designate a specific box, bin, or area of the apartment to store your dog’s toys, balls, and other items. This keeps your floor clean and clear of debris while giving your pup access to all their favorite treats, at all times.
It’s important to only use safe toys meant for dogs. Avoid tennis balls and other small toys that may cause choking. This is especially important if you plan on leaving your dog home alone.
Keep an eye on how worn and tattered your dog’s toys get. As they begin to chew and eat away at them, you’ll likely find evidence around your apartment.
Avoid this by only leaving toys in the dog bin that are in good shape and intact.
Keep Food and Snacks Sealed
While you might love having a dog in your apartment, the last thing you want is any other creepy crawler! To avoid unwanted infestations (including ants, rats, and cockroaches), seal your dog’s food and treats properly.
Most dry dog food and treats are stored in paper bags or cardboard boxes. These are easy for rats and other rodents to chew through and feast on.
Instead, store your dog’s treats in plastic containers with sealed lids. This keeps infestations out and your pup’s food safe and healthy.
Another added bonus is that sealed containers keep your dog’s food fresher, longer, saving you money in the long run.
When it comes to storage, keep your dog’s food and treats out of reach. Opt for higher cabinets or shelves where your pup can’t get to them.
Use a Crate or Separate Room While You’re Out
Chances are, you won’t be home with your dog 24/7. There’ll be times you’re heading out with friends or going to work.
It’s important that you train your dog properly for when you’re away. You can do this in one of two ways — use a pet-friendly crate or a designated room in your apartment.
Not only does this prevent them from barking at the door in your absence, but it keeps your furniture and other apartment items safe.
Crate Training Your Dog
If you’re living in a studio apartment or one without a separate room, you may need to crate your dog. Despite what some people think, your pup doesn’t mind!
Before long, the crate becomes your dog’s “safe place”, all their own. It also makes traveling with them easier.
Crate training a dog takes plenty of time and patience. Your pup needs to get comfortable and familiar with the crate before venturing inside.
Fill it with a nice soft blanket and some favorite toys. Treats are another great way to encourage your dog to give the crate a chance. Praise them once they enter the crate and spend extended time in it.
Practice closing and opening the door to let your puppy know that they’ll eventually be let out. Before you leave the apartment, start by leaving the room. This helps your dog get comfortable with the idea of being alone in their new crate.
Once your dog masters this, they’ll happily enter the create before you leave the apartment. This means no barking or destroying your couch or shoes.
Most dogs won’t go to the bathroom in their crates because it’s a soft, warm place where they sleep and relax. Crate training your dog for when you go out can double as puppy potty training!
Place Your Pup in a Specific Room
Some apartments offer enough space to have a separate room or area for your dog to stay while you’re out.
Most people choose the kitchen thanks to the easy-to-clean floors. If your kitchen doesn’t have a door, baby gates are a great way to keep your pooch in place.
A bedroom or office works too, as long as your dog is well-trained in not chewing or climbing on the furniture. Wherever you choose to leave your dog, make sure they have plenty of food, water, and entertainment to keep busy.
Potty Train Your Pooch
No, potty training isn’t just for toddlers! When you move into an apartment with a dog, you need to train them in how, when, and where to use the bathroom.
While crate training is a popular choice, other dog owners prefer the traditional method of taking their pup for a walk to take care of business.
Depending on the age of your dog and where you got them, they may already be trained. Your dog may go to the door and bark or scratch when they need to go out. Others will grab their leash and bring it to you.
If you have a puppy, you may need to teach these things using plenty of patience, practice, and treats.
Creating a routine helps too. Try taking your dog out to use the bathroom at the same time each day.
This gives them something to look forward to and triggers to look for when it’s time to go out (i.e. after you have breakfast, when you get home from work, etc.).
Some smaller dogs use pads inside of the apartment as their bathroom. If you’re using this method, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Place the pad in the corner of the room and out of the way of people, food, and foot traffic. The last thing you want is someone accidentally stepping in your pup’s poop!
Also, clean the mess up immediately to prevent an unwanted smell in your apartment.
Keep Barking to a Minimum
This isn’t always easy. After all, barking is one way that dogs communicate. Unfortunately, your neighbors probably don’t want to hear it.
There are a few ways to minimize the amount your dog barks. Crate training is one such way and prevents your pup from barking and scratching at the door.
When it comes time to play, don’t get your dog too riled up or excited which may cause them to bark loudly. Training your dog not to bark using treats, command words like “quiet”, and other methods also works well.
Instead of the controversial shock collar, try a citronella collar to reduce your dog’s barking. Dogs respond well to strong odors, like citronella.
The collar activates a spray of citronella when your dog barks. The spray is triggered by the vibration of your pup’s throat, preventing outside noises from setting it off accidentally.
These collars are harmless to dogs and non-offensive to humans, making them a viable way to keep barking to a minimum.
Decorate Your Dog Apartment Carefully
Even the most well-trained dogs make mistakes and have accidents. In a rush of excitement or anxiety, your pup might accidentally pee on the carpet, jump on the couch, or chew your favorite shoe.
To prevent your favorite, most expensive, items from getting ruined, decorate your apartment as a dog owner. Don’t invest in expensive furniture for the rooms your dog likes best.
Keep valuable items and clothing on high shelves or in locked closets. Purchase inexpensive rugs that are easily replaced.
Living in an apartment with a dog means the risk of damaged goods. Save your luxury items for a secluded room or your future home.
Hide Your Trash Can
Dogs are notorious for going through the trash. The smell of last night’s dinner is just too good to resist!
Help your pooch avoid temptation by storing your trash can somewhere safe and secure. The most common spot is underneath the kitchen sink. Here, tasty scaps are out of sight, reach, and smell (most times).
If you don’t have space beneath your sink, try a nearby closet or pantry. When all else fails, purchase a trash can with a tightly-fitted lid.
Secure your bathroom and bedroom trash cans as well. Whenever possible, take the garbage out before leaving your dog home alone.
Establish Rules About Furniture
Some pet owners love nothing more than for their dog to snuggle up beside them on the couch or in bed. Others have a strict “no dogs on the furniture” policy. Whichever describes you, choose a side and stick with it!
There are pros and cons to allowing your pup on the furniture. On the one hand, nothing feels better than snuggles from your dog. But remember, not everyone is a dog lover.
Your dog might think that they can jump on the couch and smooch everyone who walks through the door. This could make some guests uncomfortable.
Large, heavy dogs can also damage your furniture. The weight of your dog jumping on and off the couch or bed can cause tears and rips in the fabric. Dogs with longer nails might scratch wooden or leather furniture.
Small, short-haired dogs are less likely to shed everywhere or push you out of bed at night. Whatever you decide, be consistent.
Dogs are easily confused when one minute it’s okay to pounce on you and the next minute they’re being scolded for it.
Balancing Dog Ownership and Apartment Living
Some people believe dogs and apartments don’t mix — but this isn’t always the case!
If you own a dog (or want to own a dog) and plan to live in a Washington D.C. apartment, find one that is pet-friendly. Then, implement some of these dog apartment hacks to create a pleasant living experience.
Apartment living with a dog is all about mutual respect — respecting your neighbors and guests and your pup’s needs. If you have a roommate, make sure they’re comfortable with the living situation as well.
Are you ready to call Washington D.C. home for you and your pooch?
Contact us today and let us help you find the perfect apartment to fit your needs.