Apartment Living with a Puppy | GMAD

Apartment Living with a Puppy

Some of us are blessed with a landed property with a large backyard. But some of us, live in a condo or apartment in a city. When we got Gobi, we tried to create the best environment to raise a puppy given that we live in an apartment. We don’t have a balcony or patio which made potty training that much harder. Now that Gobi is six months old, here are some things that worked (and didn’t work) for us.

Select the right breed

  • More than size, a breed’s energy is important to note. A high energy dog needs space to run and roam around. A low energy dog will be perfectly happy lounging around your apartment without a backyard.

Come up with a solid potty training schedule

  • They say you should take your dog out based on how many months old they are. For example, a three month old would need to get taken out every three hours. This seemed to work well for us all the way through six months. We had alarms go off every three, four, five hours during the day to take our pup out. Our dog started to understand that when she had to go to the bathroom, it was down a couple flights of stairs before she could get to the grass patch.
  • Potty training doesn’t just mean taking the pup out. It also means cutting off water and food at the appropriate time. We found the app “Puppy Potty Log” so useful. You enter every time your pup eats, drinks, pees, and poops and if your pup has an accident. The app uses entered data to predict when your pup might have another accident and sends you alerts before it might happen. We found this app to be pretty accurate and helped us get in routine.

Crate train

  • We found crate training worked for us so well! Our pup took to the crate early on since the breeder has introduced it to the puppy before she came home. Our pup always sleeps in the crate at night and during enforced nap times during the day.
  • I think the main reason people use crate training is that dogs don’t like to pee/poo where they sleep, helping tremendously with housebreaking. The crate should be a cozy home for your pup and help them confront new situations. We recommend making the crate a cozy area for your pup with one or two toys and a nice bed. When we first got our puppy home, we slept near her crate for three nights until she realized we wouldn’t be too far away from her.

Pick a potty spot and go to it everytime

  • We picked a clean patch of grass in our condo courtyard for our pup. We always brought her down to that same area and she would immediately do her business. Dogs will return to the same area because that’s where their noses tell them to go. Now our dog knows to hold it long enough to go down the stairs and to exact same grass patch.
  • If you don’t have a courtyard, you will have to use potty pads. While we didn’t have much success with the potty pads, we know our neighbor’s dog uses them religiously. When using a potty pad, start with multiple pads in one room. If you pop starts chewing on the pad, re-direct them with a treat to a toy.

Pick a trigger word and use high-value treats for rewards

  • Whether you are using a clean patch of grass or a potty pad, use a trigger word. You want your pup to associate this word or phrase with going to the bathroom. We use “Go Potty!” as our phrase and would repeat it loudly when our pup did her business. We then use high-value treats to celebrate her going to the bathroom. We never use this phrase inside our home and only use this phrase outside.

If you have a balcony, consider a faux grass patch

  • If you are lucky enough to have a balcony, consider a faux grass patch. While our pup had a hard time with this, we saw other pups use this well. The grass patch resembles grass but the tray underneath collects the excrements. Similarly, if your dog gets into the habit of using the faux grass patch, apartment breaking will become a breeze.

Protect your floors

  • Depending on your condo or apartment, make sure you take care of your flooring. Hardwood floors might take some wear and tear with the puppy’s nails and chewing. Carpeted floors might make it harder to clean messes. We suggest a quality mop or swiffer for hardwood/laminate floors and a carpet cleaner. Always check HOA or building management on flooring.

Protect your furniture

  • Puppies will chew anything in their sight. Consider getting a chew repellent spray and redirecting them with a treat every time they go to chew furniture or wires. We put off buying new furniture until we knew our pup could handle being around it without chewing on the legs. The same goes for condo or apartment lobby furniture.

Set some house rules

  • This is very important when raising a pup with someone else. You want your partner or family members to be on the same page about the rules. Dogs are smart and if they know they can get away with more, they will test those boundaries. We suggest you come up with rules you and other members of the houseful will follow together. If your pup is not allowed on the bed or sofa, all household members should follow through with that. The same logic goes for training. Assign a primary trainer and other members of the household should follow the same training techniques and commands.

Check on your neighbors

  • Living in a condo or apartment means sharing the wall with your neighbors. One of the hardest things is hearing a dog howl, cry, or bark incessantly or at odd hours of the night. Let your neighbors know you’re getting a new puppy and things will be a bit hectic for a couple weeks.

While living in an apartment or condo is more challenging than in a single-family house with your own backyard, it's totally possible to potty-train and have fun with your dog in smaller spaces if you're prepared for it!

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