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Norwich Bulletin - 7/18/2006

Apartments And Your Dog

In cities everywhere, dogs can live happily ever after with their owners in apartments and condominiums, and out in the country, even trailers. So if you want to own a dog, but donít have a lot of space, it is certainly possible if you are willing to make a commitment to the dog with proper care, exercise and training.

It doesnít really matter the size of the dog you want as long as you pick a breed with the right temperament and energy level. The only restrictions would be if the apartment or condo complex or trailer park has a weight or breed restriction, which you should certainly find out before getting your puppy.

All dogs, large or small, need exercise of some type, so you need to find a park or hiking trail near your home where you can safely walk your pet. With most households having both partners working now, schedules will need to be adjusted in order to care for dog properly. Going home for lunch, if possible, is the ideal solution, but there are also the options of a pet sitter who might live in the complex and be home during the day to walk your pet, or consider doggy day care a couple of times a week to give your dog social training.

Pick a breed that is easy going and likes to lounge around. Try to stay away from the high energy working dogs like Border Collies, Australian Sheperds, etc., unless you are home a lot and can commit to workouts such as fly ball or agility. These dogs need a lot of mental stimulation as well as some physical so you really have to know your limitations when choosing a breed.

There are some great small and medium size breeds that do well with apartment living. Chihuahuas might enjoy a short walk in good weather but is happy running around in an apartment and can be trained for indoor pottying. Pugs, Poodles and Shih Tzuís are all mild tempered, quiet and friendly dogs, perfect for living in small spaces. If you like a little bigger dog, consider a Bulldog.

These canines are affectionate and usually quiet and require very little grooming. Short walks keep them happy Ė if you can live with the drool, these are great small space dogs. And many people have larger breeds that do very well in apartments. Greyhounds, Keeshonds, Mastiffs and Great Danes are bigger dogs that will be perfectly content in small living quarters as long as you provide daily exercise and spend time with your dog.

There are challenges to be met with any breed though, the most common being barking. Dogs bark to ward people away, to warn their humans that someone is coming, or to communicate with other dogs. Shut the shades or draperies facing streets when you leave the house to keep some of the sights away from your pet.

Try to go for a fast paced walk just before you leave for work so the dog will rest while you are gone and not have pent up energy. And play soothing music or use a sound machine with ocean waves, to leave your home in a calm atmosphere. Make sure you leave toys and chewies around for your best friend to find during the day. A busy dog is a happy dog and less likely to be destructive.

Adjustment to apartment living doesnít happen overnight. It takes a little time and planning, but then again, so does having a dog in general. If you are too busy to give a dog the proper care it deserves, then it doesnít matter where you live, you simply should not have a dog. But if you are willing to change your lifestyle to adjust to having a dog, then your problems should be minimal.

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