How to Keep Large Dogs Happy in an Apartment?

Giant dog breeds such as the Great Dane, Alsatian, German Shepherd, and Husky can be a handful. But these breeds can live happily and comfortably in a small apartment. 

With proper training and resources, a large dog can make a great companion and remain happy in an apartment. But the outcome depends on the work you put into this. 

Top Tips to Keep Large Dogs Happy In Small Apartments 

Here are some of the best ways to keep a large dog healthy and comfortable in a small space or tiny apartment:

Take It for Walks Every Day

Teacup dog breeds such as the Chihuahua can get plenty of exercise running around or playing in a small space. A big dog, such as a Great Dane, will need much more space to use up all that energy.

Playing fetch with them in a small apartment will lead to damages you will have to pay for from your deposit.

An anxious and depressed dog is a chaotic dog. It may tear the place apart to expel energy build-up. 

Some of the ways you can prevent that from happening is the following:

  • Take your dog out for walks and exercise daily, so it doesn’t get anxious. Get up an hour early if you have to, so your pet doesn’t destroy your apartment when you are at work. 
  • Take your dog for a hike and take some toys with you to play fetch with.
  • Arrange play dates with other dog owners so your pet can socialize. Dogs get lonely too. 

If you are too busy to do any of these things, hire a dog sitter or walker. The last thing you want to come home to is a demolished living space and an eviction notice.

Make Sure Your Dog Is Comfortable 

You can do much in a small apartment, including ensuring your dog doesn’t feel cramped or uncomfortable. Create a welcoming and comforting space for it by providing the following:

  • A large water bowl.
  • A large food bowl.
  • A cozy and large pillow or dog bed. 

Add comforting items such as your dog’s favorite toy, blanket, or even an old shirt they can find comfort in when you leave for work. 

Make Each Room Dog-Proof and Safe 

A small apartment can be hazardous for large fur babies. You can prevent accidents and injuries by following these tips:

  • Childproof the kitchen cabinets with latches so your dog cannot get to toxic cleaning supplies and other chemical products. 
  • Secure dangling or loose wires, so your dog doesn’t chew on them or trip. 
  • Keep house plants out of reach. These can be poisonous for some pets. 
  • Keep the toilet lid closed. It’s just a giant water bowl for your dog, but poisonous toilet cleaning products can cause serious harm. 
  • Dog-proof your trash can. Your pet doesn’t know that gum and other trash are toxic and will get into it if it can. Get a trash can with a weighted lid so it can’t get into it. 

Dedicate a Space for Your Pet 

Dogs may love the outdoors, but they are, at heart, den animals. This means they like to wind down in safe spots they can claim as their own. You can create this space in your apartment easily. Here are a few tips that can help:

  • Crate train your dog. Fill it with their favorite toys, blankets, and treats to make it feel like home, and don’t disturb them when they are in it. 
  • Place their dog bed under a table, so they feel safe enough to curl up and sleep. 

Cure Their Separation Anxiety 

Almost all dogs have separation anxiety when their owners leave them behind. An anxious pet may destroy your apartment, especially if they are not taken for walks regularly.

Besides bothering other tenants, they can make you an undesirable tenant for future landlords. Barking and howling are common symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs. 

Prevent that by ensuring your pet gets plenty of exercise before you go to work, have their favorite toy to chew on, or get it a puzzle stuffed with treats it can spend time figuring out.

If none of these things work, take your dog to the vet. It may have an undiagnosed medical condition that is causing anxiety. 

Maximize Space As Much As Possible 

While you cannot make your living space larger, you can work with what you have and make it seem more spacious than it is.

So choose apartment-friendly pieces so your dog can have plenty of space to walk around and sprawl in.

If you already have furniture, consider putting some in storage or selling them to have more space. That way, your dog won’t feel claustrophobic and anxious. 

Go for minimalistic décor or furniture so you can move out easily. 

Give Your Dog Plenty of Affection 

Dogs are needier and more social than cats. So while you should give your pooch plenty of exercise every day, shower it with love and petting when you are at home. Your pet feels happiest when it knows it is loved. 

Besides pets and kisses, play tug of war with it, cuddle on the couch, and talk lovingly to it. These small gestures have a lasting impact.

They can ensure a great pet-owner relationship and prevent your dog from getting depressed. A depressed pooch is a chaotic pooch.  

Invest In Doggy Daycare or a Dog Walker 

High-energy breeds such as the German Shepherd need to be walked for several hours a day, or they can vent their frustration in your apartment.

If you don’t have time to do that, consider hiring a professional dog walker or placing your pet in doggy daycare.

In either case, your fur baby will have plenty of stimulation, and you will return home to a happier and more content dog. 

Investigate both options first so you can rest easy knowing your dog is in reliable hands. Check out reviews and especially the treatments provided by the daycare center.

This includes the number of dogs they accept and the facility’s size. A small daycare will not work for a high-energy or large dog. 

Take the Neighborhood into Consideration 

Even if your landlord lets you keep a large dog in your apartment, your neighbors and the neighborhood may not be as accommodating. So before choosing an apartment, check out the area first. 

Ensure there is a park or a grassy area nearby where your pup can get plenty of exercise. Choose an apartment that is near a good doggy daycare center if possible. 

Some neighborhoods have dog-friendly stores and restaurants where your pet can feel welcome and comfortable. If you can’t find those, look for pet stores near the apartment.

So even if there is no doggy daycare nearby, your pet will be happy choosing its treats and toys. Think of it as a treat you can give your pet which will also improve your bond. 

Several pet stores also offer training programs. Sign up for these to save time and ensure your dog is healthy and happy. 

Best Large Dog Breeds for Apartments 

If you are planning to get a large dog before you go apartment hunting, stick to these apartment-friendly breeds:

Afghan Hound

Afghan Hounds are laid-back dogs with sensitive demeanors. They are also great with children but housebreaking them requires training.

These dogs can live contentedly in a small apartment provided they get plenty of exercise daily.


Boxers are famous as therapy and service dogs because of their calm demeanor. They are also excellent watchdogs, which you will appreciate in an unsafe neighborhood. 

Boxers are energetic and playful for the first couple of years. But they mellow down into great companion dogs when they get older. 


Bullmastiffs may look intimidating, but their demeanor is anything but. These are mild and affectionate dogs who can become devoted family members.

The breed is also gentle around children and gets along with other pets in the house. Their coat is easy to care for as long as they are brushed often. An easy-to-please dog breed like the Bullmastiff can feel at home in a small apartment. 

Golden Retriever 

Golden Retrievers are obedient and intelligent dogs that can be easily trained to live in an apartment. The dog rarely barks or howls and is excellent with children. 

However, if they don’t get sufficient physical activity, they can get depressed and get vocal. That is the case with almost all dog breeds, though. 

Great Dane 

This giant dog can feel comfortable in an apartment if you ensure it has enough space to move around. Despite its large size, this dog breed doesn’t require a lot of exercise.

A couple of brisk walks a day will tire it out. Apartment dwellers prefer Great Danes because of their calm nature, especially with children.

Cane Corso 

Cane Corsos are natural guard dogs that can live happily in an apartment, provided they get plenty of exercise. Keep them mentally stimulated, so they don’t get rowdy indoors. 

English Mastiff

English Mastiffs are gentle giants. These are beloved for their gentle dispositions, making them ideal as apartment dogs. 

But if you are getting a puppy, be ready for some chaos. Young English Mastiffs can be pretty destructive but mellow as they age. Consider getting an older dog from a shelter.


Greyhounds love to run, but the breed is quite docile. Give it daily walks and exercise, and your dog will gladly spend the day in a small apartment stretched out on the floor or bed.

Irish Wolfhound 

Irish Wolfhounds can get quite tall, but they are great apartment dogs because of their mellow nature. Just make sure you socialize them beforehand. 

The breed likes to please its owners, which makes them easy to train. Start training as soon as you get a puppy or an adult. Even if your dog doesn’t want to, take this breed for a walk daily. 


As one of the smartest dog breeds, poodles can be trained fairly quickly. You can teach them to remain off the furniture and to remain quiet indoors. 

Plus, the breed doesn’t shed often, which makes grooming easy, quick, and cheap. Poodles are naturally energetic, so make sure they get daily walks. 

Otherwise, your poodle will get anxious and may take out its frustration on your apartment. 


The Newfoundland is a lazy breed that loves to sleep. You won’t see them running around your apartment as much as you think.

But the breed is not the cleanest. The dog drools and sheds a lot, so if you can keep up with their grooming, go for this breed. They make great family pets too. 

Saint Bernard 

Saint Bernards are gentle dogs that can live happily in an apartment with a few daily walks. But if your apartment is up a flight of stairs, don’t go for this breed. 

It is prone to joint pain as it gets older. But if you get one, you get a dog that will be a loving part of your family. You can get a long or short-haired one as per your preferences.

Good Luck with Your Apartment Hunt!

Coming back to the question, it isn’t cruel to have a big dog in an apartment, provided it gets exercise daily and is an apartment-friendly breed.

Just make sure that your landlord allows animals and your neighbors are friendly. Even if your pup is the best dog, negative energy isn’t good for you or you.

Choose a breed that can live happily within the confines of a small apartment without going berserk. That way, you and your landlord will be happy with your living arrangements. 

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