You’re bringing home your new puppy pretty soon. But while you’re overjoyed, you’ve also never owned a puppy while living in an apartment, so you aren’t sure what to expect. Don’t worry — even in a small space or a rental, you can raise a happy and healthy puppy.
By taking preventative measures and dedicating time to training your new puppy, you can ensure your apartment won’t be destroyed and your dog will stay safe.
Here are some tips from Daniel Goltzer, a dog trainer and owner of Daniel’s Dog Adventures in Los Angeles, on preparing your place for a puppy.
Before Your Puppy Comes Home
Move Breakables & Valuables
The first step is to puppy-proof your apartment. “That would mean moving breakables and valuables away from the lower places, and putting them into lockable and closable bins,” says Goltzer. “Puppies like to chew because they’re teething. If you have glasses, shoes, or anything else out, keep those in a bin or somewhere the puppy can’t get into.”
Even though puppies have a lot of energy, it doesn’t mean they need tons of space. In fact, according to Goltzer, being in more than one room can overwhelm them. Stick with one room “until your dog is more familiar with you and has some basic commands down,” he says. Use dog gates to separate rooms and spaces.
Avoid putting your puppy in a room with carpeting or furniture until they’re trained. If your dog pees on the floor or chews on the walls or doors, you could have an issue getting your pet deposit back.
Get a Crate
Goltzer recommends crate training your new puppy right away to prevent any issues. The right size crate allows your dog to stand up, lie down, and stretch out, but it shouldn’t be so big that your dog starts peeing in it. Some crates have dividers in the middle that make them smaller, and you can remove them once your dog is bigger.
Clear Out Any Toxic Foods
New dog owners may not be aware of all the foods that are toxic to dogs. Goltzer says it’s crucial to research these foods because your dog will likely eat anything off the floor. Make sure all your toxic foods—such as coffee and chocolate—are locked away in a safe space and your floor is clean before bringing your puppy home.
Lock Away Medications
Keep all prescription and non-prescription drugs locked in a medicine cabinet. Consuming medication (such as Ibuprofen) is one of the top reasons for veterinary emergency clinics. as these are amongst there highest reasons for presentations to veterinary emergency clinics.
Be Aware of Rodenticides
If you’re a renter, ask your landlord if they use Rodenticides and if so, where those products are placed. It’s also good to know the names of the products in case your dog gets into it and you need to inform the vet.
Keep electric cords out of the dog’s reach. Your puppy will chew on anything in sight, and this can be a source of electrocution. Don’t forget your computer equipment and chargers.
Buy Puppy Toys
Whether or not you’re home, your puppy is going to need toys to play with. Goltzer says that buying some chew toys and puzzle games to keep your dog stimulated is a great idea.”The goal is to try and prevent any anxiety that the dog has and to create a comfortable environment where they can be calm at home. Give your puppy a place to eat, drink, lie down, and play with toys.”
Once Your Puppy is Home
Address Barking and Whining
When someone is walking up the stairs or the delivery person is bringing a package to your door, it’s normal for your puppy to bark at them. But loud barking and whining could get you in trouble with your neighbors—as well as your landlord. If your dog is excessively barking and whining, the issue could be separation anxiety. To address anxiety, Goltzer suggests that you never make a big deal out of entering and leaving your house.
“If you hug your dog and say ‘goodbye,’ that’s usually a stressor and a start of anxiety,” he says. “Don’t put your dog in the crate and bolt for the door, either. Put your dog in the crate, give him a chew toy, and then sit on your phone and read an email. That’ll prevent the dog from getting anxious. When you come home, spend a few minutes doing something else, and then say ‘hi’ to your dog.”
If your puppy is excessively barking, Goltzer recommends not reacting. “No reward, no attention, no yelling. You can even leave the room. As soon as your dog quiets down, go in and reward them with treats to show that they don’t need to bark to get attention.”
Walk and Socialize Your Dog
Since you live in an apartment, you may not have a backyard or place to let your dog out to go to the bathroom. Goltzer says to make sure you’re walking your dog two or three times a day for a good 15 to 30 minutes at the very minimum. If you do have a yard, you should still walk your puppy for socialization and exercise.
If you work outside the home all day, get a dog walker, send your puppy on a group hike with other dogs, or enroll them in a doggy daycare.
Use Positive Reinforcement Training
Your puppy is going to have accidents—it’s just a fact of life. But the way you react to these accidents is what will either slow down or speed up their training. Goltzer says that positive reinforcement training is the best method because it not only solidifies a good relationship between you and your puppy, but is also much more effective than scolding your dog when they make a mistake.
“If you catch your dog in the act, say ‘stop’ or ‘no’ and clap your hands,” he says. “Then, take your dog outside and reward him once he goes to the bathroom.”
Trim Your Dog’s Nails
If you live on an upper floor, you need to be concerned about the noise your new puppy will make and whether or not it will disturb your downstairs neighbors. Your dog’s long nails could make a loud clacking sound, so as soon as you notice it, trim your puppy’s nails. It’s also a good idea to invest in rugs if you have hard floors.
“I live on the second floor and I have a big dog, so we have a big rug in our living room,” Goltzer says. “Her nails are filed and she doesn’t run around inside, so she is pretty quiet.”
Consider Hiring a Trainer
If you’re overwhelmed or just need backup, you could always hire a professional trainer to help you after your dog is fully vaccinated.
“It’s always good to get a trainer at least for a couple sessions to answer any basic questions and make sure you’re not going to be doing things that will end up hurting your dog,” says Goltzer. “Your trainer can nip any problems in the bud. It’s a lot easier to avoid the problem in the first place than fix it once it starts.”