Choosing the Right Dog for Apartment Life

What characteristics make a dog well suited to live in an apartment?

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
5-minute read
Episode #7

If you’re buying from a breeder, ask a lot of questions! A high-quality breeder will happily tell you how she carefully socialized her pups, and she will help you choose the one who’s right for you. If the pups’ mother is unfriendly, go elsewhere for a pet.

Noise Sensitivity

Noise sensitivity isn’t often mentioned as a factor in choosing an apartment dog. But how a dog reacts to noises from the building’s hallway or the sidewalk out front hugely affects his quality of life and yours. In my experience, terriers of all kinds and Mini Schnauzers commonly get agitated even when neighbors pass the apartment door. Many blow up barking every time the doorbell rings. Herding breeds —Collies and Australian Shepherds, for two – can run to the visually sensitive, but my general experience is that they have an easier time learning to settle down after a few barks.

All the standard behavioral evaluations done at good shelters include noise sensitivity. You can also try clapping your hands or dropping your keys while a dog is looking away from you. I wouldn’t rule out a dog who responded with some startlement. But if a barking frenzy ensues, that may be a dog who has a tough time with your intercom buzz. As for those puppies at the breeder, studies suggest that puppy behavioral tests don’t predict adult personality very well. This is where your careful early training will come in.

There you have my starting points for answering the question “What makes a good apartment dog?” Whatever dog you choose, remember that fun, affection, and dog-friendly training are part of the answer to that other crucial question: “What makes a good person for an apartment dog?”

Your questions and comments help me prepare future episodes. E-mail me at dogtrainer@quickanddirtytips.com, or phone 206-600-5661. Before I go, here’s a suggestion: my friend Grant Barrett’s radio program, A Way with Words, at www.waywordradio.org. Lexicography on the radio – yeah. Till next week!

Image courtesy of Shutterstock


About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).