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Myths About Adopting a Dog When You Live in an Apartment

1. “Dogs need access to yards to be happy

Dogs obviously do need outside time, but a few walks a day is often enough. Even dogs who live in homes with yards should be taken for walks: The exercise and exposure to different sights, sounds, and – especially – smells is critical to their physical and emotional wellbeing.

2. “My apartment is too small for a big dog

Even big dogs don’t need a lot of space – and consider that, for a shelter dog, your apartment is a mansion compared to their kennel. And many large-breed dogs are lower-energy than smaller breeds.

“Oftentimes a small apartment is particularly suited for large-breed dogs,” says Jessica Arnold, member success manager at “Think about the energy level of a 150-lb. Great Dane: They sometimes have to be cajoled to get up and take a walk. Now think about a 20-lb. Jack Russell terrier: They often cannot be stopped from walking (and running, and jumping, and playing). Who is going to do better in a one-bedroom?”

What your dog does need is exercise (a few walks a day), enrichment (puzzle toys or things to chew), and socialization (time with you and, if they like other dogs, some canine friends).

3. “It’s not fair to get a dog when I work all day

Dog walkers and doggie daycare offer solutions for getting your dog exercise and socialization while you’re gone. Of course, those can be pricey. If you work long hours, your best bet is to adopt an older dog; many sleep 18-20 hours a day. 

“Some pets do better in a low-energy, quiet environment,” Arnold says. Alternatively, “consider adding more than one pet to your home so that they can keep each other company.” 

Talk to shelter staff or rescue-group volunteers, being honest about the number of hours a day your dog will spend alone, and they’ll match you with the perfect companion for your lifestyle.–Emily Fromm, Chief Development Officer, The Petfinder Foundation  

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