Apartment living can pose many challenges when a large dog is a part of your family. But there are simple ways to make things easier for everyone – especially your large canine family member. Some say that apartments and dogs don't mix, but having experienced this, I disagree. A creative and determined dog companion will be able to properly care for their family member, no matter where they live.
Give your large dog a special space. This helps your canine family member get comfortable. Even if you have a small apartment, you can designate a special spot for your dog. Stick a cushion or dog bed and a doggy toy box in this space. This lets your dog know where home is. Large dogs don't need as much space as you might think if you take care of their needs properly. But, like any dog they do need some sort of space to call their own. Even a small corner of a room or one piece of furniture that belongs only to your dog can make all the difference. Some dogs like to be in the center of everything, some like a den-like private space, and others like something in between that. Pay attention to your dog's individual needs.
Regular walks and other exercise are a must. Large dogs and apartments seem to be an ill fit. However, we have found it works out quite well if our dogs have proper exercise and care. We live near a nature trail that leads to multiple parks in both directions. Our dogs walk the trail 1-3 times per day. Even if we don't get on the trail, they still get outside enough times for exercise and to do their duties. Leaving a dog inside all day is not a good idea in any situation, but especially not when you have a large dog. But during the indoor times, keep your dog as active as necessary to complement the outside time. There are many forms of exercise you can do with your dog in an apartment, such as jumping tricks, hide the toy, or walking on a dog treadmill.
Busy toys are essential. Some large dogs can get bored inside an apartment very easily. To combat this, we make sure our dogs have plenty of toys. Choose toys that your dog will work on for long periods of time. Our dogs like rawhides, extra thick rubber toys, stuffed animals, and toys that move. For the most entertainment, look for toys that cannot be destroyed too quickly. We do buy our dogs some of the thinner toys for variety. But we make sure that they always have something more busy as well. If large dogs don't have busy toys, they can do some serious damage to your household items. This is especially true for dogs less than two years old.
Let your dog on the furniture. There is often limited space in an apartment. Restricting the dog from the furniture creates even less space and may make the dog feel confined. It's natural and okay to limit a dog's access to certain items. But limiting a dog from every piece of furniture may be very restricting, both physically and mentally. We allow our dogs on most furniture for this reason. Our apartment is not small, since we are a big family. However, it is certainly smaller than a house. Letting the dogs be fairly free helps them feel like a part of the family.
Make your dog feel like family. No matter your dog-raising methods, your dog should feel at home with you. Social interaction, especially with the household residents, is important. Depending on the size of your apartment, it may affect your dog's mood. Therefore, a healthy social life must play a big role in keeping your large dog happy and well adjusted. One thing we do is to avoid separating the dogs from family events. There are certain times where separation is necessary. But for the most part, our family and friends know and understand that if they come to visit, they'll be visiting with the dogs as well.