CAN A LABRADOR LIVE IN AN APARTMENT?
So you dream of owning a Labrador but you live in an apartment. And you’ve heard from everyone around you that having a dog in an apartment is a terrible idea. But is this really true or is it just a misconception? Find out below.
Can I Live in an Apartment with a Labrador?
The short answer is, yes! The truth is that most dog breeds are capable of adapting to apartment or city life, provided you can adapt and take care of your pooch properly to avoid problems that may arise faster than if you lived in a house. Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually not true that only small dogs are suitable for apartment living, while large dogs will only be happy in a large country house with a garden. In fact, a small, very energetic dog like the Jack Russell will have a harder time getting used to little space than a larger, quieter homebody like the Great Dane. Of course, too small a surface area will be a problem for a dog the size of the Labrador, and it’s best not to adopt a dog if you live in a tiny studio apartment. But, aside from this special case, there is nothing stopping you from adopting a Labrador if you live in an apartment. However, it’s important to note that living with a dog in an apartment is not the same as living in a house, and will require you to make some compromises and adjustments.
How Do I Adapt to Living in an Apartment with a Labrador?
To understand the answer to this, you first need to ask yourself the right questions. And these may also apply if you have a big garden but spend a lot of time away from home. Do you work away from home? Are you out of the house for more than six hours each day? If so, can you go home on your lunch break to take your dog out? Do you have enough time available to devote to your Labrador on your days off? Can you take your dog for a walk of at least an hour and a half each day, as well as shorter trips to go to the toilet?
All dogs need human contact, and especially a dog breed like the Labrador that gets very close to its owner. Left alone for too long, your pooch may quickly become miserable, even in a big house with a garden. A Labrador who lives in an apartment with a present owner will be much happier and more fulfilled than a Labrador who is left alone on a huge piece of land and never gets to go out or enjoy human interaction. Spending time with your dog is an integral part of their care and maintenance.
Before leaving for work in the morning, take your Labrador out for a bit of exercise before you leave. If you can, try to come home for lunch to take your dog out for a little walk to break up the day. If you don’t have time to leave the office, why not ask a friend or neighbour to pop in on your dog, or use a pet sitting service like Holidog.
To keep your dog busy while you’re gone, purchase lots of toys and puzzles for your Labrador. Being greedy dogs, they particularly enjoy treat-based toys like Kongs. Just be careful not to overdo it with the dog treats as this breed is prone to canine obesity, which can seriously affect your Labrador’s health and life expectancy. Consider taking out a pet insurance plan for your Labrador to help you deal with any unforeseen health issues.
Finally, when you get home from work, take your Lab out again for a long walk to stretch their paws and make time to play together. It’s important to prevent your dog from feeling bored or lonely, as a bored Lab is susceptible to developing problematic behaviours, such as compulsive barking. If your dog barks all day while you’re gone, it will soon begin to disturb the neighbours, which could cause conflict.
Basic Rules to Teach Your Labrador to Live in an Apartment
Training your Labrador is an essential step in their development, whether you live in an apartment or a house. Labs are receptive dogs and quick learners who love to please their owners. However, when you live in an apartment, there are a couple of especially crucial lessons to teach your pup early on:
Personal hygiene is not something that’s innate to dogs. After all, why not just relieve yourself in the nearest available space? If you live in an apartment, potty training your Labrador will take a little longer than if you live in a house. But anything is possible with a little patience! Start by taking your puppy out after every meal, nap, and play session, as well as when they first wake up in the morning. Show your pooch where to do their business (a piece of grass, on the street, etc.) and praise them every time they go to the toilet outside. There will, of course, always be accidents, but try not to get angry with your Labrador if they poop in the house, especially if the accident happened while you were gone. Labradors are intelligent by nature and will eventually understand what you want from them. So, be patient and gentle and you’ll get there!
Teaching Your Labrador to Be Alone
This is another essential point to work on with your pup. Your little Labrador must be able to be alone for short periods. Otherwise, they may get overly attached to you and develop separation anxiety, which can become very difficult for your daily life. Start this training as soon as you welcome your new puppy home, at the age of two months old. Begin with short absences of five minutes at a time: leaving the room, for example. Don’t act any different when you come back (no special cuddles or treats!); you want your pup to see you coming and going as a normal part of life, not a special occasion. Gradually increase the duration of your absences, until your Lab can be left alone for a few hours at a time.
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