How To Dogify Your Home


This article is written by Pet Circle Veterinarian, Dr Carla Paszkowski, BVSc.

No matter how small your home, living indoors with a dog doesn't have to be a headache. There are a number of steps you can take to make your house or apartment more dog-friendly, and even to make your dog more apartment-friendly.

For complete success, there are a number of questions to consider; such as whether your dog will require an indoor toilet, how much exercise and training they'll need, and how to manage excessive barking.

Plus, the breed and size of your dog matters, too! If you live in an apartment and are considering getting a dog, you may be wondering about the best breeds suited to small homes. While most people assume that a small breed is ideal, some larger breeds like the greyhound are renowned couch potatoes and can be well-suited to apartment life. Read more in our article How to Choose a Dog Breed For You.

Follow these tips to help dogify your apartment (and apartment-ify your dog!)

Skip to a section:

1. Create a Pet Toilet

2. Training Tips to minimise barking

3. Regular Exercise is Essential

4. Keep them Entertained

5. Grooming for indoors: Avoid Scratched Floors and FurryFurniture

6. Feeding: Make their Bowls a Feature

1. Create a Pet Toilet

One of the first things people worry about when moving to an apartment is how to manage their dog's toileting without a backyard.

While some apartment dwellers are lucky enough to have a small courtyard or garden, many will have to make do with a small balcony, or perhaps even no outdoor area.

Taking your dog out to the street is not always possible two to three times per day, so an in-home toileting system is good to have in place.

You may wish to build yourself a sandpit or vegie patch-style garden with bark chips or a small amount of turf. However, while effective, they can be very messy and will begin to smell if not cleaned and changed out weekly or fortnightly.

There are pet toilet products available now which allow for minimal mess - these usually involve fake turf situated over a tray where you can place an absorbable pad or pee pod. This allows dogs to toilet in a captured device, similar to cats with a litter tray. These devices can be placed on a balcony or even indoors (if you can replace the turf regularly).

How to train my dog to use a pet loo? Toilet training your dog to use a pet toilet is not as hard as it sounds, and works in the same way as toilet training a puppy. The key is to place your dog on the pet toilet when they would most usually need to go - such as after sleeping, eating or playing. Reward them with lots of praise and treats when they use the pet toilet, and they'll soon recognise it as the place to 'go'!

Best Indoor Pet Toilets

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2. Training to Minimise Barking

Good training is always the key to a happy, quiet pet.

It's essential to have your dog's barking under control, especially if you live in an apartment building. The last thing anyone wants is a noise complaint from your neighbours. There are a number of ways to train your dog not to bark.

Dogs often bark because of an underlying issue such as anxiety; so it is important to address any underlying issues and only rely on anti-bark devices as an aid to proper training. Check out our training tips: How to Stop Your Dog Barking.

If you need some extra help with training, anti-bark devices can be very useful. Many people recoil at the thought of an anti-bark device, as they immediately picture harsh electric shock-giving collars. However, there are many gentle, non-electric collars available now which either use citronella spray, a gentle vibration, or ultrasonic noises to stop your pooch from barking. There are even stand-alone ultrasonic speakers which can be placed around the home and detect your dog's bark without having to attach a collar.

Best Bark Control Devices for Dogs

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3. Regular Exercise is Essential

It might seem obvious, but the value of regular exercise can never be understated. Daily leash walking helps increase fitness, decrease behavioural issues, and ultimately leads to an easier to manage, happier, healthier pooch. This is important for every dog, but particularly crucial for dogs living indoors without much room to run around.

Getting into a routine is important when committing to a walking regime with your pet. Try to make it part of your getting-ready-for-work, or winding-down-after-work schedule. Plan out a long route in your neighborhood, as well as a short route for when you're pushed for time. You might like to research where the local dog parks are, and check out some Fun Places for a Weekend Doggy Date.

When exercising your dog, it's important to keep them hydrated. Why not take a travel bowl on your walk?

For high-energy dogs it can help to give them extra exercise with a game of fetch, to expend their energy before they are back at the apartment.

Top Walking Accessories for Dogs

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4. Keep them Entertained

Providing lots of toys in your home can help keep your dog stimulated and happy in a small space. This is particularly important if you're working from home and need to keep your dog out of your hair.

If you want to keep your dog occupied, it can be helpful to buy interactive toys such as treat-hiding toys, or a hide-and-seek reward toy, to keep your dog occupied and out of trouble.

Best Interactive Toys for Indoor Dogs

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5. Grooming

Living indoors with a dog is much easier when your furniture and clothes aren't covered in fur, and your floors aren't scratched up by doggy nails.

For those living with a fur-shedding dog breed, it can be a nightmare to have to lint-roll and vacuum every day to keep things fur-free.

The simple solution is to keep your dog's coat manageable so shedding is at a minimum. This might involve keeping their hair clipped short, which you either get a groomer to do, or it yourself with your own dog clippers.

Alternatively, regular brushing can help decrease shedding, as can the use of a furminator to decrease their bulky undercoat. Check out our guide to help you decide Which Dog Brush Do You Need?

Learning how to clip your dog's nails and keep them short with nail trimmers will make it easier to live in an apartment (particularly a rental) as it will prevent your dog from causing scratch marks and damage to hard floors.

Top Essential Grooming Products

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6. Feeding

Make your dog's bowl a feature, rather than something to hide!

It's always important to provide fresh food and water to your dog, but bowls and feeding containers are often unsightly. And for the hygiene-minded apartment dweller, messy bowls can invoke thoughts of uncleanliness.

Why not indulge your pet with a fancy water fountain? Not only does a water fountain look great, but it can actually encourage your dog to drink more water and help keep them hydrated. This is particularly important in an apartment in summer, as small spaces can become stuffy when we aren't home. Water fountains also keep the water moving which prevents it from becoming stagnant.

An automatic food dispensing bowl is a good idea for owners with unpredictable schedules, and also for dogs who need a little control over their diet. Some even contain a built-in microphone so you can record a personalised message that plays at mealtime. This will help keep your pet stimulated while home alone in a small apartment.

Dog Bowl Ideas