If you’ve made the decision to join the world of happy dog owners, congratulations! Deciding to add a dog to your family is a big commitment, but the joy a canine companion brings can’t be beat. You’re probably wondering: How do I choose the right dog for my apartment? Is it a question of size? Activity level? Or something else? The answer may surprise you!
But before we head off to explore how to choose the right dog, there is some inner soul searching that needs to happen. You need to be honest with yourself about your lifestyle and what motivates your choices. You must first “know thyself” in order to find a good match, so that’s where we’ll begin!
The soul-searching basics
Whether you are considering a move downtown or are already there, ask yourself a few lifestyle questions first:
What prompted the move?
What drew you to the downtown life? To apartment life?
What stage of life are you in? Career building? Retired? Somewhere in between?
Do you like to travel? And if so, how often?
How active are you? Are you a runner, hiker, or couch potato?
Why do you want a dog?
There are no wrong answers. Rather, the intent is to identify which aspects of your life are the most important and then determine how Moe will fit in.
Did I forget to mention that I’ve already named your future dog?
As for how active you are, I am not going to say that as a runner, a Shih Tzu or other small dog is out of the question or that as a couch potato, you shouldn’t consider a lab mix or Standard Poodle. Not at all. While the journey to find the right dog begins with you, once Moe comes home, it’s no longer just about you. Every dog will have needs that must be met—especially when it comes to expending energy—otherwise you may find yourself in a very unhappy, unhealthy relationship.
Now that you’ve answered these questions, it’s time to start looking for the dog for you!
Ask questions, observe and do your research
When it comes from a trusted source, word of mouth is invaluable. Talk with your family, friends and dog owners. Online, you can find countless articles and sites that might be useful on your quest, but here are four to get you started:
Pet store staff can give you recommendations on how to entertain Moe with everything from chews to toys. And if burning off energy at the dog park is in his future, a ball or frisbee might be worth considering. For running and hiking, a comfortable and well-sized harness is a good investment; you can even purchase a comfortable doggy seatbelt for road trips.
And yes, a bed, for those moments when Moe has finally run out of steam.
It’s not so much the size of the dog that matters when it comes to apartment living but its excitability, tendency to bark and ability to adapt to smaller spaces. Remember that you are living in a community, and Moe needs to walk the hallways, meet your neighbours, and take the elevator when he’s not lounging in your apartment.
Invest some time in training Moe to be a great canine neighbour. Yes, there is work involved but, it is well worth it. Both you and Moe will be thankful for having done it.
Green spaces and dog-friendly parks
Winnipeg has many green spaces and trails within a short distance from the downtown core. From Waterfront Drive and The Forks to Assiniboine Park, you and Moe have plenty of options to get out and explore!
The city operates 11 off-leash dog parks, one of which is right downtown. Located at Assiniboine Avenue and Garry Street, Bonnycastle Dog Park is a 1,200 square-meter space. It’s safely fenced in and features artificial turf, perfect for dog paws to run around on. For a larger open space, the Charleswood Off Leash Dog Park sits on a former golf course, just west of Haney, between Grant and Coy (about a 20 minute drive from downtown). Visit the city of Winnipeg website for a list of all off-leash dog areas.
There’s no love like the love of a dog
As a dog owner myself, much of what I’ve said comes from personal experience. I could probably write a book about life with my pets over the years. Brandy (since passed away), a Shih Tzu, explored the eastern states from the green mountains of Vermont to the island of Nantucket in Massachusetts in a pink stroller because she didn’t like to walk. Alice, our Standard Poodle and an aspiring writer, is busy putting together her own coffee table book of decorating accomplishments. Alice and I can often be found at the Charleswood dog park with Winnie, a Bearded Collie. Woof, woof!
Have any questions about living the apartment life with your furry friend? Let us know in the comments!