There are many benefits to living in an apartment/condo, such as lower maintenance, convenient locations, less space to fill, and a landlord or super to manage your utilities and property care. For dog owners, apartment/condo living can be a little more complicated and even restrictive, especially for dog owners of a larger breed such as the German Shepherd.
The German Shepherd (aka GSD) is a beautiful, intelligent, and loyal breed of dog, but it is a larger dog that can be quite vocal, and not all living arrangements are suitable to house a German Shepherd. Are you still in the planning process of getting a GSD? Maybe you're not sure if you should get a male or female? See our article here on choosing which one is right for you and your family. Apartment/condo living is possible with a German Shepherd, but several considerations should be taken before attempting to house one in this environment.
1. Fees and Apartment or Condo Restrictions
Many condos/apartments charge a fee or security deposit for pets before tenants are allowed to bring a dog into their home. Your renter's insurance will also have to carry coverage for your pet and any potential damages they could inflict upon the building. Security deposits for pets depend upon the building but are often around $250 per pet (depending on where you live). You should also expect to see a monthly fixed increase in your rent to cover your pet's cost as well, and an increase in your renter's insurance policy.
Condos/apartments will often have policies regarding the size and breed of dog allowed within their buildings. It would be wise to check your condo/apartment's policy on this before getting a GSD or before choosing a condo/apartment to house it in. Unfortunately, some condos/apartments consider German Shepherds to be aggressive, and are not permitted.
It is not uncommon for condos/apartments to have a policy that may require your German Shepherd to be neutered or spayed before being allowed to live on the premises. Consider getting pet health insurance for your dog as it could save you a fortune in the event your pup needs serious health care. It can also cut down the costs on average pet visits. See our article here on the highest rated pet health insurance companies we could find.
If landscaping is professionally managed at your condo/apartment building, there may be steep fees or fines if your GSD uses the bathroom in the wrong area.
Each apartment/condo company will have unique rules and restrictions on dog ownership that must be strictly followed, or you may be at risk of paying fines or even facing eviction, so be sure to do your due diligence.
2. Infrastructure Challenges
Living on the top level of an apartment/condo is usually considered ideal due to reduced noise level, the higher up you are, and not having to hear neighbors consistently walking and talking above you. However, most dog breeds, even the large ones and particularly older ones, will not do well on stairs. Consider the health and condition of your German Shepherd before signing a lease to a top floor condo/apartment if it may negatively impact their hind legs.
Some multi-story apartment buildings/condos will have elevators available, but the small space can also be an issue for such a large breed as the German Shepherd.
3. Noise Levels
German Shepherds are known to be very vocal dogs. Their barks are loud, and they will frequently bark if not adequately trained. This is one of the primary reasons that an apartment building/condo may have a restrictive policy against certain breeds and sizes of dogs to reduce the amount of noise other tenants will face.
Another factor of noise you should consider when moving a GSD into an apartment/condo is their sensitive hearing. German Shepherds have extraordinary hearing capabilities, more sensitive than human hearing by at least four times. Constant noise from neighbors or in a noisy neighborhood may subject your GSD to stress and anxiety that could cause it to act out and misbehave.
4. Crate Training Your German Shepherd
Crate training your German Shepherd will be a crucial element of living successfully in peace with your neighbors and landlord, especially if you work outside of the home. German Shepherds are not a breed that does well with long periods of confinement, so they should be crate trained early and as puppies before living in an apartment/condo situation. See our article here on what to expect when crate training your puppy.
Even with proper training, a GSD will still require attention and should not be left alone or crated for more than a few hours. If you work outside the home, taking regular breaks, or having someone you and your German Shepherd trust to give your dog reprieve from their crate is a good idea. This will be ideal for your German Shepherd psychologically and physically.
5. Training and Socializing
Training will be an essential component of your German Shepherd living an enjoyable life that allows you to live without anxiety about your neighbors and landlord in an apartment/condo living environment. Proper training will keep your GSD from unnecessarily barking at neighbors or noises that will inevitably be present.
Socializing your GSD is also essential due to the unavoidable nature of running into neighbors of all ages and personalities when you live in an apartment/condo. If not properly socialized, your German Shepherd could become aggressive around strangers and even small children, which can cause a myriad of issues. A landlord may evict you or go through legal channels to have your dog removed if it is causing disturbances or poses a threat to other tenants.
6. Space for Stimulation and Exercise
German Shepherds require a lot of exercise, especially a younger German Shepherd or German Shepherd puppy. A GSD should see one to two hours of exercise daily. This can be challenging for dog owners that live in an apartment/condo with little to no yard space.
If the apartment/condo you live in or plan to live in does not have ample yard space for the adequate exercise of your German Shepherd, you should look for nearby parks and trails that would work as an excellent substitute to exercise your dog. Always follow your town's local leash laws.
Space in apartments/condos is often limited and may become difficult to share with your German Shepherd as it grows into adulthood. A smaller space, like a condo/apartment less than 900 square feet, may not be ideal for a German Shepherd. Your large GSD may struggle to move around or be quiet without ample room to stretch out. If you do get a German Shepherd in such a space be prepared for many episodes of the Zoomies!!!
7. Working From Home
If you work from home, especially in a field of customer service or a role where you must communicate professionally with others, having a German Shepherd in your apartment/condo may not be ideal. Even with proper training and socialization, a German Shepherd may not always be quiet or endure long periods of their owner being home but unwilling to play with them.
Crate Training will likely be necessary for this situation and may prove an effective way of being home with your German Shepherd to assess their needs while still being productive.
While living in an apartment/condo may be convenient for most people, it is important for dog owners, particularly those who have a large breed sucha as a German Shepherd, to consider how their GSD will live in this kind of housing. German Shepherds are one of the most intelligent breeds of dog and can be trained easily, but will face many challenges living in a small space like an apartment or condo.
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