Having a small dog in a 1 bedroom apartment

Does anyone have a small dog in their unit/apartment?

My partner wants a small dog but we only have a 1 bedroom apartment in the city area,i know there’s plenty of people in my building that have small dogs but im not used to dogs and never grew up with them so quite scared

What are the best very small house dogs?

How are they toilet trained ?

Are they ok to leave by themselves when we are at work?

I remember a few years ago we had a neighbor who had a small dog and it barked constantly when they were at work


  • +16 votes

    It's not impossible and it's not terrible, but I wouldn't just because I feel it'd be far too cruel to the doggy especially if both of you are out of the house during the day for work.

    Dogs aren't cats (who tend to be a lot more independent) - dogs need (crave) attention, need exercise, territory, etc. Also even toilet-trained dogs are far messier than cats - they will piss around the apartment.

  • +5 votes

    It shouldn't be your (or your partner's) choice.
    You should be assessed in relation to the dog's well being, and only then would a suitable dog be made available for your ownership.

  • +8 votes

    Don't get a dog in a little apartment. It will take way more work than having one with a house and backyard. Is your partner willing to walk it several times a day and take it to doggy day care every day if it doesn't cope with being inside all day on its own? If both people are not super committed to doing everything they need to do to have a dog it is a bad idea. If she is really keen, suggest to her to be a foster carer for a dog or puppy for a local shelter, then she can get an idea of the work involved and the downsides (everything you own weed on, neighbours complaining, all your stuff chewed, no free time on the evening or morning due to having to walk it etc) without making a twenty year commitment.


    Is toilet training difficult?

    • +2 votes

      No but you need to be vigilant for a period of time and be able to pick up on cues. Things a responsible dog owner should do:

      • toilet training
      • basic obedience training (puppy preschool, then more advanced as they get a bit older)
      • exposure as a puppy (people, dogs, cats and other animals, loud sounds, car rides)
      • walking (at least once a day, maybe twice depending on the needs of the dog)
      • not leave them for huge stretches, which may mean organising visitors during the day

      If you get a puppy, it will probably take 12 months before they are settled into a routine and really comfortable being alone for extended periods, but it really shouldn't be more than 8 hours even then.


      Also have low expectations for the toilet training - dogs will learn but in my experience they have… poor bladder control. They'll pee when they're scared or stressed, they'll pee if they think you're not giving them enough attention, etc, even after being toilet trained.

    • +1 vote

      Toilet training is almost exactly the same as a human child.
      Except we don’t put dogs in nappies.

      Puppies can only hold their bladder for 2-3 hours, so you will need to toilet them during the night while young.

  • +13 votes

    Small doesn’t necessarily = good for apartments. Greyhounds are great apartment dogs as they literally sleep like 22 hours per day, and are not prone to barking. But they can’t be carried in a purse and aren’t as instagrammable as some breeds so not popular. Many small sized dogs on the other hand do not tolerate being left alone for long periods of time well.

    If you get any dog you want to live in an apartment, you should be prepared to between you take at least 4 – 6 weeks annual leave, so you can train the dog well whilst it is young. Almost any dog can be trained if you put the work in.

    If you have a balcony, and are prepared to dedicate time to the dog, it could work. Otherwise do not consider it.

    • +1 vote

      Upvote for Greyhound recommendation. Have two myself, perfectly instagrammable. Can’t fit in a purse, though.

  • +4 votes

    It's good that you are asking before committing. Dogs are a lot of work but can be successful in apartments. Often small dogs are a bad idea, breed dependent, as they tend to be higher energy and will need more training and exercise to make sure they are happy. It might be worth considering larger dogs of a more relaxed breed (if by-laws allow). For example, I've heard greyhounds make excellent apartment dogs as they are inherently lazy (other than brief periods of explosive energy), although can't speak from experience.

    There's TONS of information about this on the internet so I suggest doing research with your partner before you go further (and a single thread on OB is not research).

  • +6 votes

    Rabbit & guinea pig would be more suitable for your situation. You will be surprised how rabbit can be quite dog like. Mine would lick me and play tag with me around the apartment. They poop constantly but not gross and smelly.

    • +4 votes

      Honestly? Cats. Perfectly suited to indoor sedentary life. Cleaner than almost all other pets. And I've heard people even walk theirs.

      Rabbits are cute but apparently they're prone to uh… dying from just shock.

      • +3 votes

        We never had cats before and hence why I did not mention them. Good point tho. I also heard that they can use the toilet, which is a big plus in my book.

        Our rabbit has been well so far for couple year already touch wood so don't hide and jump scare them I guess :D :D

  • +9 votes

    Howling dog all day when you're not there - heaven for neighbours.

  • +5 votes

    Adopt a cat.


    if you really wanted, adopt a senior dog from shelter that's toilet trained.

  • +2 votes

    hope you like the smell of dog poo

  • +4 votes

    Find the local dog off leash area near you.
    Visit every day for a couple of weeks.
    That will give you an idea of the exercise commitments of owning a dog plus allow you to interact with dogs and their owners.
    You might pick up some ideas on pros and cons of owning a dog plus be able to choose a suitable breed if you decide to go down that path.
    Take some plastic bags and practice picking up dog waste.

  • +1 vote

    yup, I got small - medium breed, living in a relatively large single bedder. he is also bark and toilet trained; however he does mark when he is annoyed. its not about the breed as others suggests, its more about their characteristics and how you raise them. I walk him for 40 mins to an hour every second day - he is actually healthy when I do regular check up.

    it is not easy, you need to raise them well and put resilience first for the first 2 years or so.

  • +10 votes

    as a former neighbour, it's not fair when they bark all day.

  • +1 vote

    Having a dog in a small apartment is a bad idea. As others have said while toilet training you need ready access to an outdoor area. Puppies need toileting at least every 2 hours until they are trained. It’s a misconception that small dogs are easier to care for. My mum has two Maltese shitzu cross dogs. They are lovely dogs but extremely high energy, jumping and running around the house; they also have a high pitched bark. When excited they bark constantly. They get into everything and have chewed and destroyed furniture and clothing. Dogs need regular exercise and if the dog is confined to an apartment all day it will need to be walked at least 45 mins twice a day, every day in addition to being taken out to relieve itself immediately when it wakes up, is feed and before it goes to bed (once it is toilet trained). Dogs are also very expensive, apart from food and grooming you also have vet costs and boarding when you’re away. Dogs with genetic disorders or who are predisposed to certain illnesses can cost a small fortune. If the dog suffers from separation anxiety, or you get complaints from neighbours then you may have to send it to doggie daycare when it’s on it’s own for extended periods. Also on average a dog lives for 10 to 14 years so it’s a long term commitment that must be thoroughly thought through. If you have any doubts don’t do it.
    One more consideration is if you are renting and move will the next landlord allow dogs?
    I have two dogs myself so the above comes from my own experiences.


      Picking the right breed of dog for your lifestyle and also training will avoid most of the issues you brought up.

  • +4 votes

    Get a rat (srs).

    Like pats, can train, poop as pellets, can live in large fishtank with some newspaper.

    May attract cats, another awesome apartment pet. Then you can use the cat to attract a dog. You will reach your dream if you focus.


      I've heard this too but rats have a pretty short lifespan right? I've heard they are like tiny dogs but if I was bonded to one and it died after a couple years i'd be sad


    Look for a new partner


    Having a dog in such a small apartment is extremely selfish. A dog deserves room to roam around, outdoors, while ur at work. How do u expect a dog to live a happy life of its locked up? Not only that.. Consider it neighbours who have to put up with a dog barking at random times of the day.. Coz your dog is lonely and wants to see u. Be a considerate apartment dweller and think of the others in ur complex.

    Just because other apartments have dogs doesn't mean it's right.

    Also maybe dump this partner of urs and find one who isn't so selfish and self centred.

  • +3 votes

    If you want a dog, but are going to be leaving it alone regularly, move to a place with a secure decent sized backyard. If you want a pet but don't want to move, get something more suitable for apartment living that doesn't need a lot of space and can happily entertain itself if left alone. A cat. A turtle. Fish. Guinea pig.

    Maybe start with something like a fern. If you manage to not kill that after a few months, move on to fish. ;-)


    I have a dog but live in a house. I would never own a dog if I lived in a unit. I know people who do and I think it's cruel. One of the dogs (Schnauzer) doesn't chew cables etc. He chews the corners of the walls. Being in Melbourne they are now allowed to as renters. I won't want to see the repair bill when they move out. Another dog (cavoodle) lives on their small balcony all day under the A/C unit.

    • -1 vote

      Cruel? For big dogs maybe. I lived in a house with my dog, we had cameras setup througout the house. When we left for work, it would walk up to bed and sleep the whole day. It used the backyard to go to the toilet and that's it.

      Also people are stupid, they pick dogs on looks and not temperament or personality. Getting pure preds or fancy breeds is a big sign of owners just wanting a good looking dog and nothing else. They probably don't even train it.

  • +1 vote

    We have a 5yo Shitzu-Poodle (ShitPoo) we've had since a puppy that chills all day when we aren't there. He craps and pees outside in the courtyard because he was trained that way.

    We also have a 15 year old Maltese rescue dog that we've had for 2.5 years. He barks for about half the day. We are very lucky that one neighbour is deaf and the other is extremely nice and understanding. He pees everywhere and if it's raining he craps on the floor. No amount of effort seems to change those bad habits. From what we can work out he's had a very hard life so we forgive him for all that and try and give him the best life possible in the years he has left. Perversely, he is my favourite dog of the 4 dogs I deal with regularly.

    If you want a dog in an apartment they need to be very chilled and you need to commit to walking them briskly 30 mins at least once daily. You also need to be strict with their food or they will get fat.

  • +1 vote

    I lived in a 1 bedroom apartment with a cavoodle for 2.5 years and she was fine. In saying that, she was already 6 years old, toilet trained and used to a morning/after work walk routine so just slept all day until I got home. I also bought one of those removable dog doors from Bunnings so she had access to the balcony if she needed to.
    I was originally worried when I moved in there as she'd always been in a house so put in a camera that had motion alerts on it. Didn't need to worry, the only time they got set off was when she moved from one side of my bed to the other.

    It's definitely more about the personality of the dog than the type though as others have said. +100 for the suggestion of a greyhound. They are beautiful, a lot need rehoming and I know several people with them in apartments without an issue. Small dogs are a risk if you don't already know the individual dog and that they're not full of energy and will bark all day while you're not there. I'm in a house now and recently adopted a second "oodle" type dog thinking he'd be as easy as the first. WRONG. He's 2 and a ball of energy and if left alone for more than an hour decides everything in the house is a toy, so I now pay a dog walker to take him out during the day while I'm at work. The original dog still sleeps all day while he's gone :)


    I agree with most of the posts here. Deep thought is needed. I contemplated for over a year. To ensure I could cope and give a puppy and dog the best life. I have a 2 bedroom unit with a cavoodle. As a puppy she pooed and weed constantly. My bad I should have pened her or crate trained. She is 7mths old and still has accidents. If you have carpet it’s not great. I work from home occasionally but she is pretty good on her own if I walk her before and after work. She loves toys and I use toys that she can hunt for her food to stimulate her mentally. I have a raised garden bed with real grass on the balcony and a doggie door. Someone suggested a rabbit you’ll need 2 as they groom each other and better for their mental health. Good luck with it.

  • +3 votes

    I have a 1 year cocker spaniel and I live in an apartment. He is the most happy dog that you would have met and has no reservations that he is an apartment. All dogs need is a lot of love and affection and if you like dogs that would be a given.

    I had the same reservation as you and did do a fair amount of research. What is important is to pick the right breed one that is not generally anxious or that has high energy. There are lots of sites that would provide that info. In our building there are lots of cavoodles, schnauzers and spitz. Our strata also limits larger breeds hence smaller ones but bigger dogs are also calm. I do agree that bigger dogs do need a bit more exercise and would be nice to have a back yard.

    Regards to toilet training we trained Loki using pee pads and gave him lots of treats and praise when he got it right. There will be accidents but these animals are so smart and pick things up very quickly! It’s all about patience and love.

    We brought Loki home when he was 2 months and stayed with him for about 6 weeks. During that time we would leave him for a little while for e.g. just go down for a coffee slowly increasing the duration. We take him for a walk in the morning for about 45 minutes and one in the evening at about 6 pm. He gets two meals one at 7 am and another at 4pm. Loki is now very comfortable and we leave him from 8:30 to 4 pm. I got a little cam as well and check on him at times. He is fast asleep most of the time and will go to the balcony to his pee pad to do his business.

    It’s a very rewarding experience having a dog. There is some work involved but what you get back from dogs is immeasurable. All the best and hope this helps in your decision.


    Some dogs are more prone to separation anxiety, our pup once was. They could be trained to adapt better to not having their humans around, but it requires time and effort on your part.

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