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If you live in an apartment or condominium, you might be fortunate enough to have a balcony, which provides a great view and the chance for fresh air. But can it provide the same for your dog? Yes; it can become a canine essential for apartment living.

As long as you take the time to puppy-proof your balcony, your dog can join you in experiencing exciting sights and smells. You can even create a convenient potty spot for your pet. Read on for tips on how to make your balcony safe and turn it into a doggy haven.

Implement Railing Safety

When deciding whether to allow your dog on your balcony, safety should be your priority. If your pet can jump over the railing or squeeze through the bars, it’s a definite no-go. Even a larger dog can get stuck trying to fit between the bars. So, your first puppy-proofing task is railing safety. Install something that prevents your dog from getting between the rails. Sheets of plexiglass attached to the rail will preserve the view and protect your dog. Or try baby gates, chicken wire, or screen-door netting.

You can also put an inflatable cone on your dog, though your pet may can take time to adjust to this. Plus, you need to remember to put it on each time you let them out. It’s also important to ensure there are no tables or other furniture near the railing that your dog can climb on and jump from. Spotting another animal, like a squirrel or another dog running around across the street, might spark your dog’s chase instinct.

Golden Retriever senior at the vet wearing a cone on its head.
© 2019 Charles Mann via Getty Images

With all these precautions in place, your dog should be able to enjoy the balcony without fear of a fall. But be aware, some dogs might never be a good fit for a balcony. If you have a high jumper or pet who is skilled at escaping, perhaps the balcony should be off-limits.

Puppy-Proof Your Balcony

Your next step for balcony safety is puppy-proofing. Ensure there are no electrical cords your dog can chew. Cover them or hide them behind furniture. You should also remove toxic plants or hang them out of reach.

Finally, store chemicals or BBQ tools where your dog can’t access them. Although you should never leave your dog unattended on the balcony, any pet can get into mischief in mere seconds while your back is turned. Anticipate potential problems and organize your balcony accordingly.

Create a Dog Haven on Your Balcony

Now that your balcony is dog-safe, it’s time to make it dog-friendly. A few additions can make all the difference to your pup. First, ensure they have a shady spot to relax. Especially in the summer, dogs can easily overheat. Set your dog’s area under a table or umbrella so they aren’t baking in the sun.

Dachshund wearing a sun hat at the beach.
© Eduardo1961 via Getty Images

You can even provide a cooling mat for particularly scorching days. Also, ensure your dog always has access to enough cool, fresh water. Choose a dog bowl that is difficult to tip over so your pet doesn’t soak your neighbors below.

Your dog will also appreciate a comfy dog bed. Be careful with the material you choose as the bed will be exposed to the elements. It could get moldy or smelly if it gets damp. Choose a machine-washable outdoor dog bed or one with a durable machine-washable cover so you can keep your dog’s bed clean.

Provide an Outdoor Potty Spot

Apartment and condo dwellers know that dog potty breaks can be an ordeal, especially in harsh weather or late at night. However, it’s possible to use your balcony to provide your dog with an outdoor space to go to the bathroom. It can be as simple as a pee pad in the balcony corner or as elaborate as a dog litter box lined with artificial grass. Just be sure the potty spot will contain your dog’s business rather than allowing it to fall on the balcony below. And choose something easy to clean.

Siberian Husky snuggling with a man outdoors on a balcony.
© twinsterphoto - stock.adobe.com

To show them where to do their business on the balcony, teach your dog a potty cue while you’re on your daily walks. Then use the cue after taking your dog to the balcony potty spot so they know it’s acceptable to go there.

Of course, your balcony shouldn’t become your dog’s regular toilet. And it should never be your dog’s only access to the outside world. Dogs still need the physical exercise and mental stimulation of regular walks. But now that you’ve created a safe haven for your pet, your dog can enjoy the balcony with you whenever you like.

Related article: How to Prepare Your Apartment for a New Puppy
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