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Is a German Shepherd Good for an Apartment?

One of the most popular dog breeds is the German Shepherd.  They are known for their ability to bond with a family and protect their people to no end. However, you may be wondering if a German Shepherd is only for homeowners that have an ample amount of space for a large dog. 

German Shepherds can adapt to a variety of environments, but you need to be very aware of their physical needs and demands.  German Shepherds are a highly active breed of dog, and they require regular exercise and engagement from their family. 

While it is entirely possible to have a German Shepherd in your apartment, there are many things you should be aware of to make sure you give your furry friend a good quality of life. Read on to learn how to care for a German Shepherd in an apartment.

Owning a German Shepherd in an Apartment

It is no secret that German Shepherds are large dogs.  The average size of a full-grown German Shepherd is between 65-90 pounds for a male and 50-70 pounds for a female (Source: AKC). Not only are they large dogs, but they also have boundless energy that needs to be released frequently. 

If you have a German Shepherd in an apartment, you need to come up with a strict plan of exercising your dog.  On average, a German Shepherd will require at least one hour of exercise each day.  Because of their working nature, they need this time, or they will be unhappy and unhealthy, which will lead to destructive and possibly aggressive behavior. (Source: Barkercise)

Do They Need to be in a Crate?

If you live in an apartment, you may be wondering about crating your dog.  While German Shepherds are highly active dogs, they can do quite well in a crate if they are trained properly. The use of a crate is a great way to ensure your dog does not destroy your home while you are away. 

The key to crate training is to make sure the crate is a desirable place to be, not a punishment destination.  This is particularly important if you are using it for any length of time.

How Large Should the Crate Be?

You want the crate you use to be large enough to hold a German Shepherd, but it does not have to be massive.  If the crate is large enough for the dog to stand up, stretch out, and turn around in comfortably, it should be sufficient.  Depending on the amount of time your dog will be spending in the crate, you may wish to get a larger crate.

Can I Just Barricade the Dog in a Room?

Some German Shepherd owners or dog owners, in general, prefer to give their dog free roam of a room in the house.  This may work for some dogs, but not all.  You will want to use extra caution when doing this with a German Shepherd because not only are they naturally curious, but they are also great at escaping.

Are German Shepherds Allowed in Apartments?

Before you plan to house a German Shepherd in an apartment, you need to make sure the landlord will permit you to have one.  Many apartments only allow dogs up to a size and ban all large dogs.  Some cities view German Shepherds as dangerous dogs and may require a special permit or training requirements. Check with your local town hall for details. (Source: Rent.com)

Can a German Shepherd be Left Alone During the Day?

Like any other dog, a German Shepherd can be left alone during the day, but you need to be extra attentive to your dog when you return home for the day. They are highly intelligent dogs that thrive on interaction and feeling purposeful.  Being home alone all day can be fine if they have the interaction and exercise to look forward to upon your return.  

When leaving your German Shepherd alone for the day, you need to make sure it has access to enough water.  Although the dog will not be running around and exercising, it will still need to drink water.  Leaving food is up to personal preference and depends on their feeding schedule. It is not recommended that you leave the dog for longer than 8 hours at a time. (Source: German Shepherd Safe Haven)

Before leaving a German Shepherd alone, you need to make sure they can stay safe in the home while you are gone, whether it be in a crate or room.  To ensure they are safe, you should make sure they don’t have access to any objects they could chew and accidentally choke on. German Shepherds love to chew and can decimate even the sturdiest of toys in a short time.  

Is It Cruel to Have a Dog in an Apartment?

Some people may say it is cruel to have a dog in an apartment, but that is far from the truth.  However, it is cruel if you trap a dog in an apartment, withhold exercise and interaction from them, and do not meet their basic needs. 

Being a responsible dog owner and having a dog in an apartment is completely acceptable and comparable to a dog owner that has a home with a spacious yard.  However, when you own a dog in an apartment, you need to be aware of your dog’s needs to ensure they are living their best life. 

A well-trained dog, even a German Shepherd, can sustain an incredibly happy and healthy life in an apartment, but only if they are exercised regularly, well trained, and interacted with.  If these needs are not met, the dog will likely be miserable.

How Do I Dog-Proof My Apartment?

Once you have decided to keep a dog in your apartment, you must go through the process of dog-proofing your home.  Parents take the time to baby-proof their home, so it is only expected that a dog owner takes the same care and caution.

Dogs are curious creatures, and exceedingly small things catch their attention.  Unfortunately, some of those small attention grabbers can be dangerous to their health or costly when they need to be replaced by the owner.  Because of this, it’s essential to dog-proof your apartment.

Some things you should make sure to dog-proof include:

  • Electrical cords and outlets: Puppies and dogs LOVE to chew, and they will chew ANYTHING that they can get their mouths on, especially if boredom has set in.  Because of this, you need to make sure your outlets and cords are protected.  You can get baby plugs for the outlets and special cord cases for any cords that cannot be put out of reach.
  • Chemicals: Dogs are curious, so even if you have chemicals in a cabinet, they can open the cabinet and begin exploring.  Some chemicals have a sweet smell to dogs, which will influence them to lick or ingest the liquid.  To avoid any accidents, keep these things out of reach. You can either move them to a secure location or get cabinet locks.
  • Bathroom: Dogs love to go into the bathroom and lay down.  Usually, bathrooms have tile or linoleum that provides a cool place for their belly, but bathrooms also provide an always full water source – the toilet.  Dogs love to drink out of the toilet if given the opportunity. To ensure your pup does not ingest any germs or chemicals from the toilet, always keep the lid closed or the door to the bathroom shut.
  • Furniture: If you do not want your dog chewing on your furniture, it would be beneficial to invest in a special no chew spray.  This typically deters your dog from chewing on the furniture. However, be aware that not all dogs are sensitive to the taste of this formula, and some will chew through the bitterness.
  • Food: Do not leave food lying around the house, especially candy dishes.  It will take your dog mere seconds to ingest any food item left up for grabs.  While this may not be a big deal, it could cause tummy issues in your pup.
  • Knick knacks: If you are a collector of “things,” make sure they are out of reach of your dog.  Just a side note, German Shepherds love to stand on their hind legs to get a better view and reach of things.  Make sure anything you do not want to be destroyed is out of reach.
  • Garbage Cans:  Do not allow your dog to have access to garbage cans. If there is even a slight trace of food smell, your dog will be all over it, and your garbage will be all over the house.  Not to mention the garbage they get ahold of can make them extremely ill.

There may be other things you need to do to dog-proof your apartment, but these are the key areas you need to make sure not to miss.  Not only will these things save you money, but they will also help keep your dog safe.

(Sources: Preventive Vet, American Humane and Apartment List)

Final Thoughts

German Shepherds are loving dogs that will thrive in any environment you place them in if their needs are being met.  If you plan to keep a German Shepherd in an apartment, plan for exercise and ensure they have a safe place to call home.  If these things are done, you can enjoy an apartment with a German Shepherd.