How to Live in a Small Space with Your Dog


Dogs are high-energy creatures. They need plenty of space to walk, run, and romp around on a regular basis. On top of the physical needs, a cooped-up dog can mentally suffer and may even develop destructive behaviors.

Of course, life doesn’t always accommodate the needs of our pets — let alone ourselves. If you live in an apartment, RV, tiny home, or any other small space, here are a few tips and tricks to make sure your pup has everything they need.

Consider Your Breed

If you already live in a small space and you don’t have a dog yet, make sure to carefully consider the breed before choosing your new four-legged friend. While there are numerous factors that should go into a decision like this, if you know you’re going to be living in a small space for the foreseeable future, you can look for breeds with certain characteristics to help things go as smoothly as possible on a day to day basis.

While an obvious factor is the size of the dog you get, this isn’t just a case of “less is more.” You should also consider:

  • Breeds that are friendly to other humans, like a lab.

  • Breeds that don’t bark much, such as a greyhound.

  • Breeds that are more stereotypically low-energy, like a bulldog.

Keeping some basic factors in mind like energy-levels, friendliness, and barking can save you a world of trouble down the road.

Consider Your Neighbors

The next thing you should consider is your neighbors. If you live in a small space, chances are, you have people living above you, below you, and generally close by on every side.

Of course, if you live in a tiny home or an RV, you may have some control over this element. Often, these miniature living spaces are mobile and can be set up in a suburban or even a rural area that provides plenty of outside space to offset the smaller living quarters.

If you’re in an apartment, townhouse, or urban area, though, you may not have this luxury. If that’s the case, make sure to consider those who may be impacted by your pet. Talk to landlords and neighbors in order to keep open lines of communication. Make sure that they’re comfortable with talking to you if they have any concerns as well.

If you have roommates, make sure to set ground rules early on. Don’t wait for them to become fed up with Fido’s behavior before a situation is addressed. If you do that, you’re much more likely to run into an unpleasant confrontation in the future.

Train Your Pooch (And Let Them Train You)

A trained dog is important in any human/canine cohabitating situation. In a small space, though, it’s absolutely essential. Make a concerted effort to:

  • Potty train your dog.

  • Teach your dog to walk without pulling on the leash.

  • Train them to respond to your voice.

  • Make sure they can follow your commands in distracting situations.

Make sure to also flip the script and let Lassie train you a bit. Take some time to study your pup’s body language. When do they look happy? Scared? Submissive? Aggressive? The better you know your dog, the more copasetic your living arrangements will be.

Give Your Dog Their Own Space

Even if you feel cramped in that studio apartment, it’s still important to establish an area of your living space that specifically belongs to your dog.

Make sure your dog has its own area with a crate, bed, and other canine necessities that they can call their own. This will give them a safe haven to retreat to when they want their own secure space.

Create an Exercise Routine

A healthy dog typically needs a half hour to two hours of activity each day. When they can’t get that exercise, their muscles can atrophy and they can gain weight. They can also get antsy and may even develop destructive behaviors.

If you’re dealing with a small living space scenario, it’s essential that you establish a routine to help your dog exercise. Whether you’re going for a run, a walk, or playing fetch at the park, this exercise structure ensures that they have the chance to stretch their legs and let out their excess energy on a regular basis.

Find Extracurricular Activities

In addition to regular exercise, look for other ways to help your dog get their wiggles out such as:

  • Looking for friends that are willing to set up puppy playdates.

  • Hiring a dog walker. 

  • Getting them new toys to help them stay mentally stimulated.

You can get creative with this one. The main goal is to look for fulfilling, out of the box ways to help your pup exercise their body, mind, and soul.

Being a Good Owner

Being a good dog owner takes work — especially when your living space isn’t doing you any favors.

However, if you consider the needs of your dog, maintain friendly relations with your neighbors, set up healthy routines, and make an effort to interact with your pup on a regular basis, both you and your dog will be able to happily coexist in a small space for a very long time.

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