There is an old saying, “Look before you leap”. This is a very true statement when you live in an apartment and you are considering pet ownership. Ask yourself, “Am I really ready to take on the commitment of pet ownership and the responsibility while living in an apartment?”

Both dogs and cats need exercise and they need to enjoy fresh air. Outdoor DAILY exercise is a must for dogs. Cats need a scratching post and/or a cat tree. Exercising your pet is not just a good suggestions, it is a must.

You need to realize that you are taking on at least a 12-15 year commitment if you want a dog or cat. They need daily care, not just when it is convenient for you to take care of them.

The first thing you need to do is check with the apartment management to see what their rules and regulations are regarding pets. If they do accept pets, read the contract thoroughly. There will be fees attached to dog or cat ownership. There may be just a one time pet deposit, or their may be the deposit plus an additional monthly assessment.

When looking for a pet friendly apartment, check the location of the individual apartment for pet safety, and for outdoor space. If the apartment is high with a balcony, could your dog or cat fall off or jump from the space? Are their pet friendly walking trails for dog or dog parks near by? Always take poop bags with you. There is nothing more disgusting that seeing dog poop right where you want to enjoy being with your dog.

DOGS

Dogs cannot and should not be crated all day, no matter their age, no matter if it is a home or apartment. Crates should not be used as punishment. You need to consider where they can eliminate. Puddle pads can be used in an apartment, but you also need to find space outdoors for them.

Dogs need both mental stimulation and physical exercise. If they don’t get both, they will get bored. A bored dog is not a good dog. He will become destructive. You will consider this bad behavior, which it is, but you can be part to blame for not meeting their needs.

A dog’s energy level is most important and this can vary within breeds and litters. Their size is also of importance. Too large of a dog in a small confined area is not showing kindness to them, and it will give you frustration. Also, your apartment management may have dog breed requirements.

Dogs instinctively need to chew. You need to provide them with something acceptable on which to chew. If they aren’t given anything to chew, he may find cords, furniture legs, or shoes to enjoy this craving.

If you have to be gone for long periods of time during the day, you may consider two options: (1) a doggy day care where they can become socially adjusted; or (2) a dog sitter. Your 3rd choice could be to wait until you time is freer to care for a dog.

Obedience training is another commitment to consider. Again this will take your time and consistency, but the time and effort will result in a pet that you will enjoy being around. It will be well worth your effort.

Dogs need companionship, human love, and interactive play time and exercise time. They do not want and should not get ignored. That is not the object of pet ownership.

CATS

Cats make an ideal indoor, apartment pet. They like to play, and are very curious creatures. Many like to climb on shelves, in drawers, or hide in closets.

Cats like heights, especially when young to middle age. Older cats often cannot jump as high as they once did. However, they can still climb. That’s another reason a cat tree is so ideal.

Cats will scratch. It is as natural for them to scratch as a dog is to chew. If you don’t provide a place for them to scratch, they are innovative, they will find their own place to scratch. However, you may not appreciate what they find to scratch on. They will find furniture, drapes or carpeting. Don’t force them to upset you; provide for their needs.

Then, there is the litter box issue. This is a very necessary need. True, you don’t have to take her outside for her to relieve herself, but keeping her litter box extremely clean DAILY, will eliminate unpleasant odors, disease, and accidents around the apartment because she doesn’t want to use a dirty litter box.

Do you like using a dirty public bathroom? She won’t like to use a dirty, unpleasant, smelly litter box either. I’m sure you keep your bathroom clean, and she wants the same. Cats are very clean animals.

All dogs and cats shed, so vacuuming frequently will maintain a healthy place for you and your pets in which to live. Maintaining cleanliness will also be a welcoming place for family and friends.

As a courtesy, tell your neighbors you have or are going to get a dog or cat. Introduce your pet to your neighbors, if they are interested. When they know you have a pet, and should your pet escape the confines of your apartment, they many help you find them.

Pets can be confining to you. You may not have the time necessary, so be realistic when approaching the decision of pet ownership. Too many pets are abandoned or given to shelters because they just don’t work out, because they just weren’t what the pet owner expected.

Pets, however, can be one of the best decisions you ever make. They can help reduce your stress and sometimes even help to reduce your blood pressure. Developing love and companionship with a pet may even allow them to become a very good friend, one with whom you can share your inner most thoughts. Pets have a very good listening ear, and they don’t gossip.

Love your dog or cat. Show them every consideration by meeting their needs. Meeting their needs will eliminate a lot of frustration. And, do not overlook obedience training for a new puppy.