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Dog Decorum: 11 Etiquette Tips for Apartment Dog Owners

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To us owners, our furry little friends are angels that we could never live without. However, that doesn’t mean our pets are perfect all the time, or that we as owners are always on point regarding our pet's behavior. Sometimes we need a little refresher on proper doggy decorum, especially when residing in an apartment.

Here are 11 simple etiquette tips for dog owners to remember when living in an apartment with a dog:

1. Always pick up after your dog

Some apartments are actually making tenants supply DNA samples of their dogs, so they can nab people who aren’t picking up after their pets.  Picking up waste from your pet is by far the #1 pet etiquette rule, because pet waste can spread disease and no one wants to step in it and ruin their shoes. Don’t aggravate other dog owners or neighbors walking outside – pick it up and toss it away in a specified pet waste basket!

Living in a community that has no bag dispensers is no excuse. All pet stores sell rolls of doggy waste bags that can be clipped to a leash, or you can use grocery bags when taking the dog outside. If your community has a lot of dog owners but no doggy waste cans and bags, get together with other tenants who have pets and request that they get some installed around the complex.

2. Don’t let them treat everything like a fire hydrant

While we’re on the subject of dogs relieving themselves, let’s go ahead and address where they should be doing it at. It’s understandable that after a long day of being inside, it’s going to be hard for your dog to hold it. But try your best to keep your dog from using the bathroom in high traffic areas, like a nature path or parking lot.

 3. Keep them on leash while in the building

I love dogs, you love your dog; but not everyone in the building is a dog lover. In fact, a Gallup poll found that 11 percent of Americans are afraid of canines. By those statistics, every 10th person you come into contact with at your apartment while walking your dog secretly wants to run the other direction.

Keeping your dog on a leash is the courteous thing to do, but it could also be the law depending on where you live. It may also be a rule stated in your lease, and violating the lease could lead to punishment, such as a fine or possible eviction.

4. Let people know if your dog doesn’t like attention

The first thing I do when I see a dog is ask if I can pet it. Sometimes, though, a dog may not like other people aside from its owner. If your dog is timid, shy, standoffish or scared around people, let them know of the situation if they ask to pet the dog. You may even want to invest in a “no petting” vest like the ones working dogs wear.

5. Control their barking

There is no bigger pet peeve for apartment dwellers than a dog that barks uncontrollably. Usually this occurs when someone knocks on the door, or they hear someone in the hallway that startles them. But it too can happen when you’re away, because they’re sad, bored, etc.

If you have received noise complaints from neighbors, take it seriously and figure out what is causing your dog to bark. You may ask the vet or a dog trainer on ways to control the barking when you’re away from the apartment home.

6. Minimize bringing messes inside

Dogs will be dogs when they get outside. They roll around in the grass, run through mud, and wade in water any chance they get. It’s adorable how excited they become, until they track that muck back inside the apartment. Take steps to minimize the mess with a pair of doggy boots to truck through the rain in, or by bringing a towel with you anytime there’s a chance they’ll go for a swim.

7. Make sure your dog gets ample exercise outside

One of the top reasons a dog makes noise is because they aren’t getting enough exercise. They can get vociferous due to boredom, or they can make noise by running around the apartment to work off extra energy. The activity needs vary by breed, but all dogs need to get out and stretch their legs. Give them extra time in the afternoon to run around the dog park, hire a midday dog walker or take them on your jogs through the apartment community.  

8. Play by the “bark park” rules

Dog parks are shared spaces where both people and dogs interact. It’s not a personal playground, so play by the rules of the park and be a good neighbor with a pet. If no rules are clearly stated, then follow the lead of others in the park.

9. Don’t bring your dog to the pool

Most dogs love to swim, but most residents don’t want to swim with them in the community pool. It’s a sanitation issue and property issue since dogs’ nails could damage the pool. It could become a liability issue for you if someone was to get hurt as a result of the dog being at the swimming pool. Take your pet to an off-leash beach to go for a dip!

10. Try to get your dog on a reasonable schedule

Schedules are great for dogs; it helps them get into a routine and gives them assurance of when they can expect food or be let outside. Just be mindful of your neighbors when establishing a schedule. If your schedule necessitates going for walks during odd hours, make sure your dog is quietly under control until you get outside.

11. Don’t rule out professional training

If you’re unfortunately getting a lot of complaints from different folks about your dog’s excessive noise, it’s time to acknowledge the fact that your pooch could use some professional training. The truth is that all canines need boundaries and a pack leader, as Cesar Millan (Dog Whisperer) would say.

You have to be that pack leader or your dog will be making the rules of the home. Sometimes, this requires tough love and discipline. If you still need help in correcting behavior, a professional could step in and be the voice of reason. Without boundaries, your sweet pup could be defiant to others watching him/her, as well.

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