Moving to a Small Apartment with a Big Dog


When my friend got divorced two years ago, she found herself living in a one-bedroom apartment with her two very large dogs. It was almost like a condo near school which seemed to be a comfortable accommodation for her. She had adopted her two Great Pyrenees mixes when her and her husband owned a large home with a great fenced-in back yard. Giving up the dogs was not an option, so she had to figure out how to meet their needs and turn them into good doggie neighbors as well. Many people find themselves in small apartments with dogs that aren’t ideal for small spaces, but still manage to make it work through hard work and dedication.

Apartment Organization

Small spaces are made less functional with clutter. If you have to downsize your space, clean out your stuff as well. Make sure all your furniture is practical and useful, and spend some time on organization. It will give you more room for your dogs to romp, and also keep them from chewing your shoes or ripping up a favorite book. Put your extra things in storage, or give them to family and friends for safe-keeping.

Exercise Exercise Exercise

A tired dog is a happy dog, and no where is that more important than in a small apartment. But without a yard, it takes more work for the dog owner to make sure their pups are getting enough exercise. Daily walks are an absolute necessity, even for small apartment dogs. Check out your neighborhood for dog parks to make up for the lack of a yard, or find a local agility course for extra physical activity.


Daily life in a new apartment comes with a lot of changes. Your dog may temporarily forget all their previous training as they adjust to the new environment. Owners will also need to train new behaviors. My friend’s dogs were reluctant to poop on walks, after having had a yard to eliminate in at their old house. She had to actively reward defecating again, something she hadn’t needed to do since her dogs were puppies!

Daily Enrichment

A dog in a small space is going to get bored quickly. Spend a little extra energy to think of things for your dog to do while you’re gone. My friend leaves cardboard cereal boxes in the living room for her dog to shred while she’s at work. Yes, it’s kind of a pain to clean up postage-stamp sized cardboard chunks every day, but it’s better than your dog getting into the garbage or tearing up a favorite sweater. There are plenty of dog toys on the market specifically designed to stretch out feeding times or make your dog use his brain in an appropriate way!


The best way to get your dogs back on track is to establish new routines as quickly as possible. Early morning walks, afternoon hikes, weekend swimming, whatever it is, start doing it as soon as possible. Consistency will help your dog remember his manners and settle in quickly. Pretty soon, the new apartment will be the new normal.