It is no secret that for the past year and a half my husband and I have shared our 1200-square foot city condo with our 22-pound beagle, Rhett Butler, who thinks at any given moment in time that he is just letting us live with him. We have had our ups (companionship & eternal love!) and our downs (bathroom breaks during the great Chicago blizzard) but we have figured out the key components to living happily with a dog in a multi-unit building where the neighbors are close and the outdoor space is shared.
- Don’t get an animal that can’t comfortably live in your home. Great Danes do surprisingly well with condo living because they are large but quite sedentary, but a big Labrador with bundles of energy is going to have a struggle in a studio apartment. Cats are small, but if you have more than two or three you will probably have a hard time dealing with their smells and kitty litter. Talking birds might cause problems with thin shared walls, and some condo associations have prohibitions against reptiles, fish tanks over a certain size, bully breeds or dogs over a certain weight. You should consider the personality of the breed as well, some pure-bred hounds who like to howl all day will not be appreciated by your neighbors. Do your research!
- If your pet is loud and bothering your neighbors, look into solutions for both boredom and anxiety. Puzzle treat toys can provide mental stimulation, while homeopathic chews or compression jackets can help with separation anxiety. If barking is an issue try a bark box, which emits a high frequency noise when your dog barks that you can’t hear but your pup will find unpleasant. Leaving the television on (low volume) or drawing the curtains might help keep out the distractions that are causing the barking or whining. Rhett Butler’s Thundershirt (a compression jacket) does wonders for his storm anxiety:
- Consider your exercise and potty options. Where is your closest patch of grass or park? If you work all day away from your home, look into local dog walking services, see if you have a neighbor who is interested in making a little extra money on the side, or pony up the big bucks and drop Fido off at doggie-daycare on your way to work. Doggie daycare can run between $15 and $50 a day (variables include where you live, what options you are asking for and if your pet needs medication or extra one -on-one time during their day) but can be an excellent way to get exercise and socialization. Bonus—Fido comes home exhausted!
- If your animal does his or her business in a shared or public space, clean it up immediately. There are plenty of waste bag options so you will always have what you need, but don’t leave that mess for others to deal with, or worse, step in. Animal waste can attract rats and spread disease, so be a kind owner and pick up after your pet.
- Find a vet you can trust and afford. Be sure you can get to their office quickly or by foot. If you are living in the city without a car keep in mind not all taxi services will let you bring your sick kitty or dog along, so you might need to find a vet you can walk to.
- You might be surprised by local pet friendly areas near your home! Do your local restaurants allow dogs on patios? Do you have a dog park nearby? Both can be great ways to get your (well mannered) dog out of of the house to stretch his legs and take in the sights. Chicago boasts 18 dog-friendly areas run by the park district, and some cities have private dog parks where you can pay an annual fee to let Rover run around in a safe, fenced in area with his friends.
Daisy is a lawyer married to a lawyer (insert lawyer jokes here) living in a small condo in a big city with a new baby and beagle. She breaks up the legal-speak by blogging about life in Chicago, which is filled with escapades of urban living. In the summer she enjoys patio dining and in the winter wonders what she was thinking when she moved here. You can read more from Daisy on her blog, Just Daisy.