How to keep an indoor dog happy

Author picture Jessica

Can a dog live happily in an apartment?

The short answer is: yes! It is possible to keep a dog in a smaller home or apartment and give them a happy, healthy life. It simply takes a bit of extra planning and preparation.

Apartment living is becoming more common worldwide, with many people having access to only a balcony or courtyard in their homes. As such, it’s important that we put some effort into how we enrich the lives of our pets. 

Dogs are social creatures that need plenty of exercise, attention and mental activity. Without this, dogs can develop destructive behaviours such as barking and chewing. Even worse, a dog might become bored or depressed without adequate daily enrichment, which can lead to negative long-term outcomes such as separation anxiety.

How to keep an indoor dog happy

Mix up the toys

To keep your indoor dog happy, try maintaining a toy rotation throughout the week. Doing this will ensure that they don't get tired of the same toys each day. Be sure to keep a variety of safe toys that vary in size and texture, such as chewy ropes and squeaky soft toys.

Provide a safe place to relax

Make sure your dog has a place to relax and be themselves - for example, in a courtyard or a spare room. Be sure to puppy-proof this area by removing anything dangerous, such as rubbish, human medications, electrical cords, cleaning products and choking hazards. 

Make exercise part of your daily routine

All dogs need some daily exercise, but this is even more important for indoor dogs. Try to work this in at a regular time each day, such as morning and evening depending on the breed and age of your pet. If the weather is wet or too hot, play a game of tug-o-war or fetch inside. And of course, if you are too busy during the day, a Pawshake dog walker can help.

Enrich feeding habits

Make dinner time more fun by providing feeding gadgets, such as a kong or snuffle mat. Food pieces can be frozen in the hot summer months to give your pet the extra challenge of licking and melting their treats. It's best to do this on a hard floor or somewhere that messes can be easily wiped away. 

Another fun activity is sending your dog on a hunting expedition in the house by hiding treats. This is a great enrichment activity that will test their scent and mental skills. Be sure to factor these treats into the total amount of food you feed your dog during the day so that you aren't over-feeding them.

Provide outdoor access

If you give your dog access to a high balcony, make sure you do this with supervision. It's critical that the balcony is entirely safe and secure with a very high railing. Otherwise, a courtyard or window to peer out of is great for indoor pets! Failing that, regular trips to the park are an absolute must.