Etiquette tips for dog-owning apartment dwellers

Private Property South Africa
Veronica Logan

Those of us living in apartments will know that sharing a common space with others can be tricky at the best of times and that a little consideration goes a long way to ensuring that peace and harmony prevail. Adding a dog to the mix therefore requires particular planning and thought to ensure that any potential issues are averted, and that the neighbourly status quo is maintained. With this in mind, here is our list of “petiquette” tips for the apartment-dwelling dog owners among us:

TIP #1: Keep them entertained

More often than not, our furry friends bark due to a lack of stimulation or boredom, especially if left alone at home all day while we are at work. It’s therefore an absolute must to keep them occupied whenever and however possible to avoid them annoying or disturbing the whole block with their barking. While it is much easier for those of us who work from home to navigate this tricky situation, it’s not as difficult as you may think to keep your dog occupied until you get home. Most pet stores have a range of interactive puzzles or toys that can be filled with treats to keep your little fur baby busy during the day. Some dog owners have also found that leaving the TV or radio playing softly in the background helps soothe them while you are away. That said, make sure there is also enough food and water to last them until you get home and be sure to interact with them as soon as you arrive.

See more: Getting your home pet ready

TIP #2: Nip any separation anxiety in the bud

As with boredom, your dog might be prone to excessive barking or whining if they become anxious when you’re not around. They could also resort to damaging your apartment which is not ideal especially if you are renting. If you sense your dog might be experiencing a destructive-type of separation anxiety - especially if they are a puppy - it might be worthwhile consulting with a pet behaviourist or dog trainer who can assist by assessing your dog and recommending an effective course of action. If this isn’t possible, your vet could assist with anti-anxiety remedies or even medication. While this might be a last resort, if anxiety is causing your dog unnecessary distress and in turn, distressing your neighbours or even your landlord, it might be the only option to keep the peace all round.

TIP #3: Be considerate of others

It’s always worthwhile bearing in mind that how you feel about your dog is probably the same way any other owners feel about theirs. That said, while you might think your dog’s friendly disposition is sweet or endearing, others might find it annoying or alarming if you allow your dog to rush towards them each time they encounter you on the stairs or in the communal courtyard. Similarly, any neighbours that have their own pets or even small children might take strong exception to this behaviour so be sure to keep your dog on a lead when leaving or entering your apartment block.

TIP #4: Research your dog’s breed before bringing them into an apartment

There are certain breeds of dogs that are just not compatible with a small, apartment-type living situation. Sheep dogs such as German Shepherds and Border Collies as well as some of the larger dog breeds such as Boerboels or Golden Retrievers are far better suited to the great outdoors. Keeping them inside, especially in a small apartment, is not ideal or fair to them or to your neighbours if this results in barking as mentioned earlier. If you are looking to get a dog for your apartment, it is therefore recommended that you do some digging into what breed of dog could best handle an apartment set-up. If you do however find yourself having to move into an apartment with an incompatible breed, consider hiring a dog walker. This could help assist with preventing any frustration or boredom on the part of your dog and could therefore keep barking or negative social behaviour to a minimum which both you and your neighbours will ultimately be grateful for.

TIP #5. Clean up after your dog

This should be standard practice among all dog owners but is especially the case when it comes to bringing your dog out into the communal garden or shared areas of your apartment block. It can be extremely disrespectful and offensive to those around you if you are a dog owner who doesn’t clean up after their dog, particularly when a space is shared, so be sure to pick up whatever your dog wants to “put down” to spare anyone else the unfortunate act of stepping into or having to deal with your dog’s poop when moving around the property.

At the end of the day, there will always be issues when it comes to living in close proximity to others, but your dog doesn’t have to be, or become, one of them. It all comes down to mutual respect and careful consideration on your part, which should be the case with apartment block living regardless of whether you own a dog or not! Ultimately, a well-cared for and happy pup promotes a harmonious and peaceful living environment and as a result, contributes to the chances of keeping the neighbourhood happy!

Read more: Pet-friendly estates in SA

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