Tag Archives: Dogs Without Yards

Dogs and Apartments & Townhouses – Things to Think About BEFORE You Do It

There are several things you need to check on if you’re planning to get a dog or dogs and you live in a townhouse, apartment, etc.

Apartment dogs
Apartment Dogs
Obviously you should be allowed to have a dog no matter where you live, but…. I’m a 10 year old yellow Lab so I have to think that!
Before you bring the dog home you need to find out:
  • If you can have dogs
  • If there is a limit on the number
  • If there is a limit on the size
  • If there are rules on pet waste disposal

Can You Have Dogs?

I don’t understand why, but I hear that there are some places where you’re not allowed to have dogs.   Make sure you don’t live in one BEFORE you decide to get a dog and bring it home.

I would guess that rules like these come from people a long time ago who had dogs, but didn’t take care of them and/or forgot that they had 6 billion neighbors.   They likely let their dogs bark too much and didn’t pick up their dog’s poop.   Both of these things probably annoyed the neighbors which resulted in new rules that said dogs were no longer allowed in the complex.

The moral of the story is…. if you do live in a townhouse, apartment, etc where your neighbors are close and you ARE allowed to have pets, make sure you are a responsible pet owner.

Is There A Rule Against Having A 2nd Dog?

I’ve heard that there are dogs around who actually like to live with other dogs.   Well… I’m not one of them.   Check out The Real Story to see why but I can tell you the short story is that my life was great, then the boss brought home this new dog who bites my ankles all the time.   I’ve heard that things get better once they get out of the puppy phase, but we’re soooo not there yet.

Anyway, if you live in a place that has pet restrictions, make sure that having a two dogs isn’t one of them BEFORE you decide to take the plunge.

Is There A Size Limit?

Another thing you need to consider is whether there are rules about the size of the dog.

You will definitely need to know what you’re working with before you get the new dog.   Size can be a little tricky.    I was the runt of my litter and we thought I was mostly done growing when I came to live in the townhouse.

I’m a small for being a Labrador Retriever, because I only weigh about 50 pounds (depending on how much time I’ve spent at grandma’s house recently) but that is still about 10 pounds more than we thought I would weigh.

Luckily our weight limit is 50 pounds so it’s ok for me to live here.  I would be really, really crabby if I had to leave after I decided I liked it here just because I grew too much.

The other dog that lives with us now (Scout, because I get in trouble when I don’t use her name) came from the Animal Rescue League.   She was part of an “unwanted liter”.   They knew she was half-Lab, but didn’t know what the other half was except to know that because of her size it was obviously much smaller than a Lab.

She only weighed 9 pounds when she came home at 10 weeks old.   At 11 months she’s under the limit but has surprised everyone by growing to 45 pounds.

So while all dog breeds have average sizes, it’s good to remember that each dog is different.   We have two female Labs in our house but instead of the average size of 65 pounds we’re at 50 and 45.   We could have just as easily been 65 and 70.

Are There Rules About Pet Waste Disposal?

Dealing with your dog’s poop and getting enough exercise for dogs are the two biggest issues for dog owners who don’t have a huge back yard.   We’ve got a lot of information about both topics on the site to help you figure out the best ways to handle this.

It is critical that you have a plan for how you’re going to handle pet waste disposal BEFORE you bring the dog home.


You really can successfully live with dogs in an apartment, a townhouse or a house without a yard, it just takes a little preparation and planning.   So… make sure you know the rules and regulations from the apartment/townhouse Association before you bring home a new dog.   Also make sure you’re willing to live with whatever rules they have.

Let us know what you think about having dogs in apartments, townhouses, etc.

Learn Where and How to Let Your Dogs Exercise In Public Places

There are many ways that you make sure your dogs exercise.

Taking dogs to public places
Taking dogs to public places

Taking us out to public places is one of them.

I really, really like to go places and meet people.   I’ve heard “the humans” talk about how this is really good for our socialization too.

There are a lot of public places that are great places to get exercise for dogs.   However, it’s critical to always, always, always remember that you are in a public place.

Some people (the “good” ones) love dogs and will want to talk to the dogs and pet them, but others will not want anything to do with them.   (Although I can’t possibly figure out why!)

It’s important to be considerate of others and always maintain control of your dog.   Even though “the bad people” don’t want to interact with your dogs, it’s still important to respect their wishes.   They are in a public place too and shouldn’t have to deal with animals if they don’t want to.

Don’t let your dog approach people when they’re in public.   Let the people come to your dog (if they want to).  If you let the dog say Hi to everyone they want to, you’re going to annoy a lot of people.   Some will love it, but some will be annoyed.

The other item is that you need to be ultra-responsible about picking up after your pet.   You absolutely cannot go anywhere without having a full stock of pet poop bags with you.    I would even recommend that when you have to throw your pet waste bag into the trash that you double bag it.   It will help prevent the odor from being bad and it will show people who see you that there really are responsible pet owners out there.

You must, must, must, must pick up after your dog.    (Are you sensing a trend here?)

“Leftovers” are very annoying for non-dog people, but they are also annoying to dog owners.  When we take walks it drives the boss crazy because I have to stop and smell every single dropping that someone very rudely did not pick up.

Where to Take Your Dog

There are a great many pet-friendly places to take your dogs to get exercise.

  • Parks
  • Athletic fields
  • Dog parks
  • Pet stores
  • Soccer games


Take a long rope with you and look for an unoccupied space.   A long rope allows your dog to roam more freely (and smell all kinds of good stuff) and run after a ball or a frisbee.   If you take a tennis ball with you (and you already taught them to fetch) the dog will be really, really, really happy.

There is a learning curve related to letting your dogs exercise by running on a long rope, check out the related post to help you with it.

A dog poop bag is a must.

Athletic Fields Athletic fields are great too because they usually have fences so you don’t have to use a rope.   However, make sure to check for signs, some fields won’t let you use them for dogs.   I would also recommend that you limit the usage of athletic fields to the off-season because of this.

When we get to run free anywhere when we don’t have a rope, the boss still attaches a short (5-10 feet) leash/rope to us.   I think she does this so that “just in case” she has to chase us down we’ll be easier to catch.

dog poop bag bag is a must.

Dog Parks

We’ve actually never been to a dog park.   We never get to do anything fun… well… except play ball, and play outside and chase frisbees, and take long walks… ok… I guess we do get to have fun, but we’ve still never been to a dog park.

Our community is building one that will open this summer.  If you subscribe to our newsletter, we’ll tell you all the stuff you don’t know about dog parks after we start going.

Remember… you are still in public and a dog poop bag  is still a must.

Pet Stores

I know, I know… you can’t really get exercise for your dogs in a pet store.   However, there are soooooooo many cool things for me to pay attention to it’s almost like getting some exercise and it’s definitely good for my socialization.

There are other ways to let your dogs exercise that don’t involve public places.   There is more information available on the Exercise For Dogs page.


What do you think?    What are your favorite public places to get exercise for dogs?

Dogs Poop In The Cold Weather Too

If you have dogs and don’t have a huge back yard you have to have a dog waste system in place for how to handle your Dogs Poop.

If you live in a climate that has a cold winter season there are also many additional challenges related to dog poop pick up.

  • When you get home from work and let the dog outside, it’s too dark to see the poop to pick it up.
  • Since you can’t pick it up right away, it can freeze, then it’s hard to pick up the dog poop because it’s frozen to the grass.  I’ve seen the boss kick under it (when it’s frozen) with a boot and that seemed to free it up but she certainly wasn’t happy to find out once that it wasn’t as frozen as she thought.
  • If you try to handle your dog poop pick up duties when it’s frozen, it sometimes breaks apart and scatters about the whole area.  You end up with a very unattractive dusting of “brown stuff”.
  • If you try to pick your dog’s poop up when the temperatures rise, it’s squishy and gross and hard to pick up.
  • If you leave it outside for a while, it’s also likely that I’ll step on poop when it starts to melt and then track it inside.  Then I’ll get in trouble even though it’s really not my fault.
  • If it snows, the dog poop gets buried in the snow.  Then you can’t find it when you want to pick it up.
  • And… it’s cold outside. It doesn’t bother me much, but the people don’t seem to like it.

A Bucket… With Holes

Dog poop pick up is different in the winter than in the other months.  We just reviewed many of he problems related to dog poop pick up problems that you see in the winter.  However, there is a huge plus… it’s cold.  If you live where you really have to deal with crappy weather, it means it’s cold enough so that the dog’s poop will freeze.   That means there is no smell to deal with or worry about covering up.

If your dog waste system includes putting the dog’s poop in the trash, you will still need a container to store it in and you will still need to line it with trash bags so you can put it in the weekly trash.  However, you won’t need individual bags because you don’t need to contain the smell.

One problem you have to deal with is the snow.  No matter how careful you are on your dog poop pick up duties, you will get some snow mixed in with the poop when you pick it up.  You can use an old bucket (with holes), wire basket, old fashioned plastic milk crates, etc or anything else that can stay outside, contain the poop but allow some of the liquid to run off as the snow melts.

Then once a week or so you can dump the poop into the weekly trash bag and toss it.

Poop Scooper

If you have to handle the dog poop pick up in the snow, this tool works great.  It’s got relatively sharp edges and the two sides act like shovels. You can stand over it and dig it out.

We don’t use this when there isn’t snow because it only picks up one piece at a time, but it works great in the snow.

Snow Blower/Shovel

This is our best find of the most recent winter – a power snow shovel.  It’s basically a light weight snow blower.  You don’t need to clear a big area, just the area around the chain the dogs are on.   You obviously don’t want to spend money on a full-blown serious snow blower just for dog poop pick up, however these light weight models are less than $100 and they are awesome for keeping a 10 foot radius in your back yard free of snow.


If you keep the snow off the ground then the dogs poop can’t get buried in the snow.  Using this makes the dog poop pick up chore much easier to handle in the middle of winter.

Other Things You Need To Know

Handling dog poop pick up is a humongous pain.  It’s icky and smelly and unpleasant and a complete pain.  But it is also inevitable that you have to deal with it.   You really need to figure out a plan for your dog waste system to deal with this if you have a dog in an apartment, townhouse or small yard.  It can be done, but it can take some time to figure out what works best for you.

Get more information on how to handle your dogs poop here.

Dogs Exercise… With Ropes

There are a lot of ways you can get exercise for dogs and we’ve talked about several of them here. 

Another option is to use long ropes as a “leash” and go somewhere where we won’t bug people too much.  You can do this just about anywhere.

Using long ropes is an awesome way to get exercise for your dogs. the one showing in the picture is a long leash, but you can also use any kind of a long rope or nylon rope.

You can play fetch or just let them wander.  My favorite thing (I’m a 10 year old yellow lab) is to go to a park or a sports complex and get attached to a long rope.  That way I’m mostly free to chase bugs, smell everything and just generally have a whole lot of fun.

A few notes about using a long rope… surprisingly, there is a learning curve.

Rope burns hurt. We could write a whole book on avoiding rope burns, but it probably won’t sink in until it happens.  The boss got really ugly scars around her ankles and said really bad words several times before she finally figured it out.

Here are a few hints to hopefully ease you into the learning curve:

  • Really work on the “come here” command before doing this.  This can prevent problems because you can get the dogs attention before they see the rabbit, etc.  You don’t want the dogs exercise to come from chasing stuff they’re not supposed to chase.
  • Always, always, always know where the rope is.   This is for both your safety and your dogs.   If the rope gets wrapped around your ankle and the dog runs to chase a ball… it’s going to hurt… a lot.
  • The other thing that can happen is the rope can get wrapped around something that you won’t know about until the dog is jerked to a stop.  This hurts the dog… a lot.
  • Keep the rope wrapped around your hand.   If you just hold it loosely and they run… you won’t be able to grab it firmly to stop them… and it will hurt if you try.
  • Always, always, always be aware of your surroundings.   You need to see the things that will make your dog want to run BEFORE they see it.    Sometimes you can prevent them from running with a quick “no” or “come here”.   Other times you will be able to “brace for impact” and ease into stopping the dog.
  • It’s not fair (or nice) to jerk the dog to a stop when they come to the end of the rope.   Be prepared to take a couple steps in the direction the dog is running to reduce the impact (to both of you).

Other Things To Know

Watch the rope for weathering, chewing, etc.  replace the rope BEFORE it breaks.   You don’t want to find out that the rope needs to be replaced after it breaks and your dog chases a rabbit across the street.

Stay in an isolated area until everyone gets a little more comfortable with this process.   That gives both you and the dog a chance to “learn the ropes” without the additional distractions of other people and animals.

Find additional ways to get exercise for dogs here.

How bad were your rope burns when you first tried to do this?