Having a dog is great! Dogs are cute and loyal, usually greeting you at the door when you come home. If your dog has a tail, it’s usually wagging a mile-a-minute, and they are very excited to see you as soon as you step inside the room.
German Shepherds are no different. These smart and loyal canines make great companions and family pets. They are great dogs to come home to every day.
If you live in an apartment or condominium, you may wonder, “Can a German Shepherd live in an apartment?”
The answer is Yes, a German Shepherd can live in an apartment. In fact, many families have one or more German Shepherds in an apartment where they live comfortably and thrive.
However, you need to make sure that some of the things and criteria are taken care of when keeping a German Shepherd breed in an apartment (covered in detail in this article). For example, you need to make sure they get enough physical activity and mental stimulation.
Living in an Apartment or Condo with a German Shepherd
Renters should first read the lease agreement regarding owning pets in your apartment complex. If you own a condominium, check with the HOA or governing body within the complex as the rules will vary on what pets you are allowed to have within your home.
Most apartments and condos will have size and breed restrictions for pets, but each breed has its own specific needs to have a healthy life and stress-free life.
German Shepherd – Breed Description
German Shepherds are a popular breed, consistently ranking in the No.2 spot of AKC’s Most Popular Breeds since 2014.
Their origin dates back to 1899 where German Shepherds were originally herding dogs. Now you may find them working with police officers on bomb and drug units, as well as first responders for search and rescue.
Size & Color
German Shepherds are medium to large size dogs. Males are typically taller and larger than females, so their weight can vary between 50 and 70 pounds.
If your apartment complex has a weight limit or does not allow large breeds, your German Shepherd may not fit the required weight limit.
Most German Shepherds have a tan coat with pockets of black fur along their back and face.
Their muzzle, specifically, is usually black or dark brown and a common trait for the breed. You may also see German Shepherds that are all black or black with sable coloring. They have a double coat with either medium or long hair.
If you’re looking for an intelligent breed, German Shepherds are among the smartest dogs around.
It’s possible to train your German Shepherd for obedience and agility tricks by repeating instructions just a few times. German Shepherds seem to like learning new things and then putting their new skills to the test.
German Shepherds are also very loyal dogs. When combined with their intelligence, they have a natural protective instinct that makes for an excellent watchdog.
And German Shepherds are very affectionate with their families, which makes them perfect companions and family dogs.
German Shepherd Activities
German Shepherds are very active dogs. They like to be busy working or playing hard.
If you consider having a German Shepherd in an apartment, consider the physical and mental requirements that come with this active breed.
Physical Stimulation Requirements
German Shepherds are born to run due to their breeding to chase sheep. It’s practically in their DNA. So living in small spaces such as apartments and condos is not quite ideal, unless you can get them outside activity several times a day.
Hopefully, your apartment complex provides an area for dogs to run and play, like a dog park or open field. If not, check your local community for parks and trails that allow dogs.
You may not be able to unleash your German Shepherd in these areas, but if you can keep up and run your dog around, this will help exert any pent-up energy.
Of course, unleashing your German Shepherd is the best option for their physical stimulation requirements. Allowing your German Shepherd to play and run without a leash will definitely help in running off steam and tiring them out (at least for a little bit).
You should plan for about two to three hours a day of outside playtime for your German Shepherd. Whether that’s two individual hour walks a day (an hour in the morning, an hour in the evening) or one outing of two hours with lots of walking and running.
This should give your energetic dog plenty of time for physical activity. Consider taking a ball or rope with you or his favorite toy to chase after while outside.
Mental Stimulation Requirements
Chances are that your German Shepherd will get easily bored with apartment living. If they get too bored, they may find something other than an approved chew toy to occupy their time. This might be your favorite pair of shoes or the side of furniture.
You will want to provide mental stimulation for your apartment-living German Shepherd; it will help them stay out of trouble and protect your possessions from tooth marks and destruction.
Mental stimulation for German Shepherds can include simple bones and chew toys to complex puzzles explicitly designed for canines.
Several interactive puzzles and toys are available to keep your German Shepherd mentally engaged and stimulated.
Whether it’s a physical activity or mental puzzle, don’t forget to reward your German Shepherd with dog cookies or dog treats for their good behavior! Positive reinforcement goes a long way to an obedient dog and a healthy dog/human relationship.
Tips For Living in an Apartment with a German Shepherd
As you can see, with proper stimulation, it is possible to live in an apartment with a German Shepherd. While it may not be an ideal situation, there are tricks and tips to consider for a happy living situation that is good for your dog and your neighbors.
German Shepherd’s Senses
It’s a simple fact that dogs have a keen sense of smell. And, depending on the breed and age of the dog, their hearing is superior to humans as well. German Shepherds are no exception.
They have high sensitivity when it comes to noises and smells, easily detecting nearby movement or action. (Remember, some German Shepherds are working dogs for K-9 units to sniff out bombs and drugs).
If you live on the bottom floor and have loud upstairs neighbors, their noises may trigger your German Shepherds’ protective instincts. You may want to consider renting a top-floor apartment or train your dog that those noises are harmless.
Living in close quarters may also be difficult for German Shepherds to understand where their territories begin and end.
If your apartment building has an elevator, your German Shepherd may not do well with sharing the small space with strangers. Again, good training and being comfortable with strangers can go a long way for an apartment-living German Shepherd.
Do’s & Don’ts for Living in an Apartment with a German Shepherd
Oftentimes you don’t have many options for living situations. If you are new to an area, you may first rent an apartment and need to bring your German Shepherd with you.
If you plan on living in an apartment with a German Shepherd, consider these do’s and don’ts:
Do: Provide Lots of Physical Activities
Without a backyard to run and frolic, German Shepherds may store up energy, and then you may have behavior problems to contend with. For physical exertion, consider the following activities:
- Daily Walks
- Running on a local trail or path
- Neighborhood dog park
Do: Provide Mental Activities with Toys or Puzzles
Several subscription-based companies provide monthly toys for your pet. Chewy and BarkBox are two examples that we recommend that provide new and interesting puzzles each month, such as:
Do: Consider Professional Training
Whether you live in an apartment building or not, providing obedience training for your German Shepherd is a good idea.
German Shepherds are highly intelligent and, with good training, can learn to follow commands, recognize danger, and stay out of trouble (or attack if in trouble).
Do: Consider Taking Your German Shepherd to Doggy Day Care
Daycares are no longer just a human baby opportunity.
Consider taking your fur baby (no matter how old) to a doggy daycare if you live in an apartment building or condo.
They will have lots of social, mental, and physical interaction throughout the day, and it is an excellent chance for them to get their energy out.
Even if it’s just for a few hours a couple of days a week, doggy daycares are great for German Shepherds.
Don’t: Leave Your German Shepherd Unattended For More than Eight Hours
Apartments are usually small homes with smaller rooms compared to single-resident homes. Imagine being cooped up all day without any opportunities for running and stretching your legs.
If you can’t be home to let them out, consider hiring a dog walker to come and check on your pup every couple of hours for at least thirty minutes.
This should give them the physical and mental stimulation they need to last the long hours inside.
Don’t: Punish Them for Acting Out
If your German Shepherd acts out because they are bored, don’t punish them.
This bad behavior is simply a result of having nothing else to do, and they are trying to keep themselves occupied.
These destructive behaviors should reverse themselves with good training and proper mental and physical stimulation.
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