The Belgian Malinois is a large, energetic dog. Some people believe that this character trait makes the Malinois quite incompatible with apartment living. But is it really? See all our answers below.

Can I Live in an Apartment with a Belgian Malinois?

Whether or not you can live in an apartment with a dog is always the subject of hot debate. Are our four-legged friends unhappy in smaller spaces? Is it true that only small dogs are suited to apartment living? The answer is much more complex than it may seem. In reality, almost all dog breeds are capable of living in apartments. For most dogs, it is not necessarily the available space that influences their happiness, but the presence of their masters and the time we have available to devote to them. A dog who lives in an apartment and gets to go out every day and spend lots of time with its owner will be much happier than one who languishes alone at the end of a garden, for example. 

Having a garden does not exempt you from taking your Belgian Malinois out for a long walk or run. These dogs are very lively and energetic and need to walk for at least an hour and a half each day. Additionally, the Malinois breed has a loyal temperament and tends to get very close to its chosen family, which means these dogs need owners who are present and available. So, even if you do live in an apartment in the city, your Belgian Malinois should be perfectly happy, so long as you have enough time to devote to them.

How to Adapt a Belgian Malinois to Apartment Living

To ensure your new pup settles into apartment living without a hitch, adopt good habits from the start. If you don't work from home, try to take your dog out before you leave in the morning. If your Belgian Malinois is tired from their walk, they’re likely to nap as soon as they get home, which keeps them busy while you’re gone! Don’t leave your Mali alone for too long, though. If you can, try to come home for lunch and take your Belgian Malinois for a walk to break up their day. If you can't make it home, ask an acquaintance, friend, or neighbour to pop in on your dog; you can even hire a dog sitter. Dogs aren’t made to be alone for too long; they could quickly sink into boredom or depression.

Purchase some toys and brain games for your Mali to play with while you're gone, to stimulate their mind and keep them occupied. A bored dog is at risk of developing problematic behaviours, such as destroying furniture or barking. However, if your dog barks all day while you’re gone, it will soon begin to disturb the neighbours, which could become problematic. Be sure to choose toys that are strong enough to withstand your Mali’s powerful jaw; fragile items could easily get broken and present a choking hazard. 

When you get home, spend some time with your dog and take them out again for a walk or to play. On your days off, take your pooch for a walk in the forest, the countryside, or on the beach. Somewhere they can explore, run free, and sniff new scents. If you like to jog or cycle, you can definitely take your Mali along with you; this athletic dog breed loves to run!


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Potty Training and Teaching Your Malinois to Be Alone

In order for life in your apartment to be happy and comfortable for all parties involved, it’s important to potty train your pooch and teach them to be alone.

Teach Your Belgian Malinois to Be Alone

A Belgian Malinois’ happiness in an apartment also depends on your ability to set up a good dog training routine. Your pooch needs to learn how to handle being alone, deal with separation, and not develop an over-attachment to you. Start training your Belgian Malinois as soon as you welcome your puppy home. Begin with short absences of five minutes at a time, then gradually increase the duration, until your dog can be left alone for up to two hours. Don’t congratulate your Belgian Malinois when you return home; your departure and return should constitute non-events. Also, be careful not to promote behaviours that could lead to over-attachment in your dog. For example, don't put your Malinois’ dog bed in your bedroom, at least initially. Your pup must learn to live without you!

Potty Training Your Belgian Malinois

Another important step in training your Belgian Malinois to live in an apartment is potty training! When you live in a house with a garden, this sort of training is much easier. But this doesn’t make it impossible when living in an apartment; you simply need to be more patient with your Mali puppy. It may take a little longer this way, but Belgian Malinoises are intelligent dogs, who quickly learn to understand what you expect from them.

Take your Belgian Malinois puppy out at set times each day—usually half an hour after meals, after a nap, and when they wake up in the morning—and wait patiently for them to poop. Praise your pup profusely when they go to the toilet outside, showering them with hugs, encouraging words, or even a healthy dog treat - in moderation of course! Your dog will quickly learn to associate your positive reaction with peeing or pooping outside. No matter how careful you are, however, there will always be accidents. Never scold a puppy when they poop in the house, especially if the accident happened while you were out. Your Belgian Malinois puppy wouldn't understand why you're cross with them. Simply clean up their mess and continue with your dog’s training. You’ll get there!

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