In my daydreams I live on a 30 acre farm with fields and forests for Raina to run through all day, and a huge farm house with a king size dog bed for her to snuggle up in. In reality, we live on a busy street in a tiny two bedroom apartment, 21 floors up with a four foot balcony. While living in a small place with your dog may not be the dream, there are plenty of ways to make it work so you can appreciate your surroundings.
Here’s some of my tips for sharing a small space with your dog:
1. Have a designated doggie zone for their toys and belongings. Our tiny apartment gets turned upside down pretty easily. The same way you hate to misplace keys or your remote, your dog may not love if their toys constantly go missing under piles of your clothes or books. Keeping track of what you have for your pet keeps you from always buying or missing toys.
2. Keep a space (even if it’s small) in each room that is just theirs. A comfy bed or pillow, water bowl and some toys are comforting and a go-to for a Raina approved zone. Having this small spot in each room gives her ownership of the space she’s in and she goes to these places when she gets excited or needs some alone time. Knowing when she uses her spaces is a great communication tool. I know she’s had enough of the day when she puts herself to bed in her space in our room, when she goes to our shared space she’s usually feeling playful. Giving her these areas to call her own builds trust and respect – what more could you ask for from your dog?
3. Make time to be a part of the action. Some dogs are home bodies, like Alicia’s Hudson, while others love the hustle and bustle of life, like Alicia’s Izzy and my Raina. While Izzy gets to look out her window and see people walk by whenever she wants, Raina sees the occasional bird fly by and whimpers at the fact she cannot chase it. Because Raina’s view of the outside world is different from 21 stories up I make time to sit outside with her on a park bench or right outside our building and let her watch the world go by. For dogs this is a great way to overcome fear of strangers as well as expose them to new stimuli. Whenever we’re going to people watch I bring treats in preparation for any unknowns. Since Raina was rescued at 1-year-old we weren’t sure what she had been exposed to and how she’d react, a great way to learn your dog’s behaviors is to sit with them and watch as they respond to their environment. Always make sure they are protected and feel your support through treats and positive reinforcement.
4. Keep a routine. Like I mentioned in my first guest post, routine is key for any pet parent, especially when you live in a small space.
5. Embrace the closeness. You get to know your dog on an entirely different and more personal level when you live in close quarters. This is a great way to build your foundation and your bond. Until the day we live on that 30 acre farm, I’ll continue to enjoy our cuddles on the couch and having her at my feet in the bathroom. Knowing we’re always within 15ft of one another is reassuring for us both, and I wouldn’t change that quite yet.
Meet Meg! Not only is Meg my sister, but she is a dog mom! Meg, her boyfriend John and their dog Raina live in beautiful Hawaii. Meg works as a certified yoga instructor and is well versed in creating wellness and positive space for people and their dogs. Meg is going to be a continuing contributor to the DIY Dog Mom Blog so stay tuned to more from Meg!