Keeping a dog in a flat
How to help your dog settle into apartment life.
If you want to live in a flat with a dog, there’s lots to consider.
Should you already have an apartment and are thinking of getting a new dog, you’ll need to consider outdoor access and may need to make some changes in the flat.
You may be planning to move into a flat with your existing pet, and wonder what you can do to help them settle and feel at home there.
Our guide will take you through the main considerations, from legal issues to meeting your dog’s needs. It’ll help you prepare so you and your faithful friend are happy in your home.
Check the terms of your lease or contract
If you own a private leasehold flat, your lease may prevent you from keeping a pet – you’ll need to check it through. The same goes for private and social housing rentals – check your tenancy agreement.
Even if your contract says pets are allowed, there are likely to be terms attached.
Whatever is stated in your lease or agreement, it’s worth having a conversation with your management company (for private owners) or landlord (for tenants) to clarify what is and isn’t permitted.
If your lease or contract states that you’re not allowed to keep a dog in the apartment, it’s still worth asking the question.
Some landlords or freeholders may agree to vary the terms of the lease or contract to allow you to keep a dog. This may include an extra fee or special conditions, such as you agreeing to get the property deep cleaned when you leave.
Should you decide to go ahead, it’s worth speaking to your immediate neighbours. Reassure them that you’re a responsible owner and explain the steps you’re taking to ensure your dog is settled and comfortable in their new home.
You could even give them a copy of your pet’s CV as an introduction to your faithful friend.
Does the flat meet your dog's needs?
Consider the size of the apartment and the amount of furniture you have against your dog’s needs for space.
All dogs are individuals so it’s important to find the most suitable dog for you and your home. Consider their needs, such as medical, grooming, training and behaviour as well as their size, age mobility and energy levels.
Many dog behaviourists and trainers can offer advice on what type of dog would suit your life.
Check the apartment’s outdoor access
It’s vital for all dogs to have outdoor access, for toileting, sniffing, exercising and more. Puppies especially will need to go outside, often at short notice, to support them through their toilet training.
A ground floor flat with direct outdoor access is ideal. If your flat isn’t on the ground floor, you’ll still need to get outside easily with your dog during the night and day.
Outdoor access – things to consider
How easy it is for you and your dog to get to the ground floor and outside, especially if they have a medical condition or are a large breed dog such as a Greyhound?
If you'd be relying on a lift to get to the ground floor, consider:
How you’ll introduce your dog to the lift so they feel confident and comfortable using it.
How long it takes for it to arrive on your floor and for you to get downstairs.
What would happen if the lift stopped working.
If there is no lift and you’re on the first floor or above, consider whether your dog will be comfortable going up and down the stairs. It’s worth talking to your vet about how your dog is likely to cope with this.
Think about what will happen once you’re outside. Would your dog be allowed to go to the toilet in the apartment grounds, as long as you clear up straight away? Is there a dedicated toileting area, or would you need to go outside of the grounds?
Being a good neighbour
Noisy dogs can be a source of friction between neighbours.
As soon as you have permission to get a dog, it’s worth speaking to your neighbours to make them aware and reassure them that you’ll be a responsible and considerate pet owner. Other ways you can keep things sweet with the nearby residents include:
- Giving them a pet CV. It can include information on whether it’s ok to approach your dog or give them a treat
- Getting your dog trained. Check out our training guides and enrol them in Dog School
- Clearing up straight away after your dog has gone to the toilet outside. Don’t let your dog do their business in the apartment grounds if that isn’t permitted
- Teaching your dog to feel relaxed and confident spending time alone so they are comfortable in the home when you go out without them
- Doing everything you can to manage excessive barking. This is a natural behaviour for dogs, but they might be barking because of separation anxiety or boredom
- Planning in daily enrichment activities to help ease boredom. This may also help with minimising barking
- Considering alternatives to leaving your dog alone including taking them to day care or employing a dog walker
- Dogs with lower exercise needs (such as more senior pooches) may prefer having a dog sitter to keep them company
- Keep the lines of communication open with your neighbours and address any issues as best you can
Pet proof your apartment
As with any home, you’ll need to make your flat safe for your dog. Our new dog or puppy checklist will help you get prepared for your new arrival.
Flats may bring specific risks for dogs, including windows and balconies that are high up. These could be dangerous for your pooch to access.
If your dog can access windows that don’t have a safety feature (allowing you to lock them in a slightly-open position) then keep them shut or block them off. The same goes with balconies – if yours isn’t completely secure then it may be better to block your dog’s access.
Exercise and mental stimulation
As with all dogs, it’s important that yours gets enough daily exercise and mental stimulation.
Alongside your daily plan of enrichment activities for your dog, it’s good to have a daily routine in place.
A routine is good for all dogs, but it’s especially important if you’re downsizing and your dog is used to going out into the garden whenever they want. With a daily routine in place, you can be sure that your faithful friend is getting a good balance of exercise, training and mental stimulation.
Enjoying your new place with your dog beside you
Living in a flat with a dog can bring specific challenges, but if you plan for them there’s every chance that it’ll work out well.
With some adjustments to your apartment, a plan in place to meet your dog’s needs – and a chat with the neighbours – you’ll be well on your way to success.
Then you and your furry flatmate can settle in and enjoy your new place together.