If you live in a small space, you must consider if your living arrangement and lifestyle can cater to a companion before you get one. Let us know if we can have a Chihuahua in an apartment.
That means less running around in backyards for our furry friends. And if they’re not cared for and stimulated correctly, a unit can be a “gilded prison” for a dog, explains dog behaviorist Melissa Starling.
Checking if you’re allowed to have a chihuahua dog
You must check with your real estate agent or landlord if dogs are allowed when renting.
Depending on your state, the future for renters and their pets could be getting brighter.
Sweeping reforms in Victoria promised to give renters the right to own a pet. But they won’t come into force until July 2020.
Queensland has impending changes, as does the ACT. And there’s a growing push in NSW for similar action.
Even if you own your apartment, you’ll need permission from the corporate body.
The RSPCA wants to encourage more landlords and body corporates to accept animals, explains RSPCA Queensland spokesperson Michael Beatty.
“Especially with the growing elderly population. Often the cat or the dog is their primary companion,” he says.
Choosing the right breed (and personality)
Mr. Beatty says it doesn’t come down to just size.
“The ideal dog for an apartment is a chihuahua,” he says. “All dogs need exercise and ideally are walked twice a day, but chihuahuas by nature are very chilled.”
Dr. Starling agrees, saying, “sometimes large, slow breeds can be surprisingly well suited to apartments. Provided they don’t have a strong protective instinct.”
“They spend a lot of time resting and don’t need a lot of exercise, and they can also be very tolerant.”
She also recommends toy breeds because they are easy to exercise and transport.
Active breeds, such as those in the gundog or herding group (German shepherds, border collies, golden retrievers, for example). They are generally a poor choice because of the amount of exercise they require, Dr. Starling says.
“Many herding breeds and hunting dogs such as terriers are also very alert and therefore likely to bark.”
Most of all, you want a doggo with a relaxed personality, Dr. Starling says.
“It’s important to realize that there are always exceptions within breeds. Some individuals are very laid back and tolerant, and others are alert spitfires,” she says.
“Look for an easy-going dog that is friendly with unfamiliar dogs and humans, as they will live in an environment where they will often find themselves in close quarters with strangers.”
Dr. Starling recommends choosing an adult dog that is already showing its adult personality or having a professional help you select the right match.
“Or find a breeder you trust to select a suitable puppy from a litter,” she says.
If going through a rescue organization, a tremendous settling-in period means you can return the dog if they turn out to be unhappy in that environment.
And because sociable dogs generally appreciate having a friend, “it may be worthwhile considering whether you can fit two dogs in your apartment and your life,” Dr. Starling says.
Toileting and green space
Green space, like a dog park near the apartment, is ideal for giving your puppy the chance to stretch its legs as much as possible.
“Dogs need opportunities to play, socialize with their kind, sniff around in green areas, and ideally run off leash in a safe environment,” Dr. Starling says.
Accessibility and toileting are crucial considerations before a dog is in a unit.
“You will need to think carefully about toileting arrangements and how you will deal with a dog that has an upset stomach or is injured and can’t handle stairs very easily,” Dr. Starting says.
Keeping the peace with neighbors
Don’t forget to be a good neighbor so they love your pup too.
“It’s obvious you need to clean up after your dog, because having your dog pooing all over the common space won’t go down very well,” Mr Beatty says.
Dr. Starling says you also need to consider how much barking will be tolerated and how you can minimize the noise your dog makes.
“Look for dog breeds that are quieter than others. But dogs bark for many reasons, including when they are lonely, under-stimulated, and when they can hear things happening nearby,” she says.
“If you live in a noisy apartment building where you can hear neighbors through the walls or windows, you must choose a dog that is not hyper-alert and prone to telling you about everything they see, hear, or smell.”
Mental stimulation in and out of the home
Walks aren’t just for the dog’s physical needs, they are also critical for their mental well-being. So daily outings are a must.
However, the stimulation you provide inside the apartment, mainly when your puppy is alone, is just as important.
“We deeply hate to be bored, and so do animals,” Dr Starling says.
She recommends puzzle feeders, with the option of using them for rationing the dog’s daily food.
Rotate toys every few days, or give your dog something as simple as a cardboard box to rip up.
“Chew items are important for some dogs, and goat horns, cow hooves, and deer antlers can be bought from some pet stores and are all low-mess options for dogs to chew on for long periods,” Dr. Starling says.
At the very least, Dr. Starling says, scatter some kibble around the apartment for your dog to hunt throughout the day.
“Enrichment is about giving animals a chance to engage in species-specific behavior. For the dog home alone, this will mostly revolve around foraging for food, chewing, and using their nose.”
Has he ticked all the boxes? Now reap the benefits.
“Pets can bring a raft of benefits when they come into our lives,” Dr. Starling says.
“They give us companionship, a reason to get out and about, access to social networks as we find others that share our love of the animals we keep, and they make us smile and laugh.”
For those reasons, Dr. Starling says it’s vital that society makes apartment living suitable for pets at all levels.
“With housing environments changing, it would behoove us to start thinking how we can make life easier for pets and pet owners with access to facilities and infrastructure that support these community members.”