Can you own a dog if you live in a small apartment?

I saw a tweet on twitter the other day (twitter, the king of high quality content, as we all know) about dogs in small apartments –

Essentially comparing leaving a pet in a hot car to having a dog in a small apartment.

I think we all know that leaving pets in hot cars is abhorrent, so no need to get into that. But let’s talk about dog ownership and apartments. Is it really that bad to own a dog in an apartment?


When we first got Betsy, we were living in a 3 bedroom house with an unfenced yard. So not exactly a small apartment. BUT. Yard was unfenced. Betsy is a rottweiler/lab cross, so not a small dog by any standards.

Since the yard was unfenced, for the first 3 years of Betsy’s life (the length of time we lived in that home), Betsy was never just β€œlet out into the yard”. Any time she went out, it was a supervised outing, either an on-leash walk around the neighbourhood or an off-leash jaunt at a local beach, hiking trail, or playdate with another dog in a fenced area.

On average, she got about 3 hours of outside time per day, all of it high quality exercise time, since she couldn’t just hang out in yard and be sedentary. That’s a good deal more than what a lot of dogs get who DO live in homes with fenced yards.

She was very happy, and I don’t think not having a fenced yard ever affected her quality of life.

Now that we do own a home with a fenced yard, I will admit that it’s super convenient to be able to let her out for a quick pee or poo without having to leash up, but I wouldn’t say it has improved her quality of life much. Just mine πŸ˜› She likes to be with her people, so after a few minutes of sniffing around the yard, she’s back at the door, waiting to be let in. She still gets her daily walks, just like she did before, and I think that’s where she gets the most enjoyment.

As far as the space inside the house? Dogs don’t really need a lot of space as long as they’re getting adequate exercise each day. I don’t see how having 3 bedrooms or a bachelor suite really makes a difference to them, although it might be annoying to the humans when the dog hogs the only couch in the house πŸ™ƒ

I can see some reasons for why having a dog in a small apartment might be frustrating, but really, these apply to ANY apartment, big or small:

  • If the dog is a barker, it could annoy neighbours
  • When potty training a puppy, getting it outside to grass in time when you live several stories up could be a bit annoying for the owner
  • If the dog has any fear/aggression issues, getting from the apartment to outside for a walk could be hazardous for neighbours encountering it in narrow hallways/the elevator. (although this could be mitigated to some degree by a muzzle)
  • If the dog is not having its physical and mental needs met, there will be trouble. But you know what? This is true no matter WHERE they live.

Aside from all this, I think we should also acknowledge that people who live in large cities tend to live in apartments, often small ones, and they own dogs and the dogs do just fine.

I feel a bit like this “no dogs in small apartments” point of view comes from someone in the privileged position of living in a place where large homes with property are the norm.


SO. That’s my point of view, and I feel pretty good about it. As long as your dog is getting the opportunity for bathroom breaks, exercise, and mental stimulation it needs each day, the size of the home it lives in doesn’t matter.

Things I would be concerned about if I lived in a an apartment or condo, regardless of the size, is whether my dog is aggressive or a barker, both of which would be more problematic than if you live in a detached home. And of course, anyone who has a dog needs to know they are able to spend time with it and meet its needs, because no dog, no matter where it lives. likes to be left home alone all day every day without attention, mental stimulation, or exercise.

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