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Can Golden Retrievers Live in Apartments? – 5 Tips For Better Living

Golden Retrievers are active, lively and energetic dogs. They love to play and they’re always up for some fun. After all, it’s why Golden Retrievers need at least 2 hours of physical activities per day. But if you’re living in an apartment, you may be wondering if these large energetic dogs are ideal.

So, can Golden Retrievers live in apartments? While it’s not ideal for a Golden Retriever to live in an apartment, they can still thrive in a relatively confined space. In fact, thousands of Goldens live in apartments. As long you provide your dog with enough physical exercise, mental stimulation, crate training, obedience and socialization training, they’ll have no trouble adapting to their small living space.

There’s a lot to consider when brining home a Golden Retriever into a home with a large backyard or enough running space for your dog. However, as long as you follow these tips and guidelines, you should have no problems getting your large dog comfortable!

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Can Golden Retrievers Live in Apartments?

A Golden Retriever patiently waiting for his owner in an apartment.

Before we dive into how Golden Retrievers can make good apartment dogs, it’s important to know whether they can live in apartments. Not all apartment complexes are the same and they tend to have their own rules and regulations on the matter.

For example, one complex may have an age requirement. In my sister’s apartment, they require the dog to be at least 1 years old to stay in an apartment. However, there are no restrictions on the size. The reasoning behind this is because older dogs tend to be potty trained.

In another example, some complexes may impose a size limit on the dog. My grandpa’s apartment has a rule that a dog over 30 pounds may not be on the premises of the complex. There are no age limits thought. So while a puppy Golden Retriever will be under 30 pounds, that will not always be the case.

And finally, some apartment complexes will often restrict certain breeds. According to RentCafe, some of the most popular breed restrictions include the German Shepherd, Pit Bull, Rottweiler and more. These breeds also happen to have the highest fatality rates for dog bites.

Of course these are just a few examples of popular and common restrictions on dogs. In some cases, they may just outright ban all dogs regardless of breed, size or age.

That said, make sure to contact your apartment’s front office or landlord to confirm whether a Golden Retriever can actually live in your apartment first. From personal experiences of friends and family, there aren’t many places that would deny a Golden Retriever.

What If My Apartment Won’t Allow My Golden Retriever?

Sure, it may seem easy to lie your way into keeping a Golden Retriever if your complex doesn’t permit. However, I’d advise against this. After all, Golden Retrievers are not small dogs, weighing up to 75 pounds and standing well over 20 inches tall. Good luck keeping these big dogs a secret.

Plus, Golden Retrievers are not quiet dogs. In fact, they’re very vocal dogs and love using their barks to “talk” to the owners. So if your neighbor hears loud barking in the middle of the night, there’s a good chance you’ll get reported especially if there are no dogs allowed.

And are you just going to keep your Golden Retriever in your apartment all day, every day? I mean – they’ll have to leave the house at some point, right?

It’s best to be honest about the situation. If you try to lie your way through this situation, it’ll likely just end up in a costly and troublesome situation for you. If your apartment complex won’t allow these dogs, you have two options: move or not own a Golden Retriever.

How Golden Retrievers Can Make Great Apartment Dogs

Now with that little disclaimer out of the way, let’s discuss just why and how Golden Retrievers can make some of the best apartment dogs.

I call these the five essentials of apartment living for Golden Retrievers. While these dogs can be great in confined spaces, it’s not a guaranteed. You, the owner, have to put in a lot of effort to make sure these dogs are able to live a healthy and happy life in an apartment.

For Golden Retrievers to live well in an apartment, you’ll need:

  1. Physical activity
  2. Mental stimulation
  3. Crate training
  4. Socialization training
  5. Obedience training

All of these factors are crucial for your Golden Retriever in almost all cases. However, they’re even more important if you plan to bring them into an apartment. Let’s examine each one and what you’ll need to do.

1. Physical Activities for Golden Retrievers

Make no mistake – Golden Retrievers are active dogs with high energy levels. Ideally, you would want to keep them in a large backyard where they can run freely and exercise on their own. But obviously, this won’t be the case living in an apartment.

So what do we do? Being in an apartment, you’ll need to be responsible for their daily exercise. In fact, the typical dog will need at least 2 hours of exercise per day. If that sounds daunting or you simply don’t have the time, I would suggest moving or simply not owning one.

And when we say “exercise,” we don’t mean casual strolls through the neighborhood. While it’s nice for them to go on their multiple daily walks, Golden Retrievers need some high-intensity activities. Don’t know what to do with your dog? We got you covered.

Here are some great activities for Golden Retrievers:

  • Fetch or Catch – Ever wonder why Golden Retrievers love this game so much? Well it’s because they were bred to retrieve aquatic game. When hunters shoot down a duck, these dogs are off to the races to retrieve the shot game. In other words, it’s in their instincts to play this game.
  • Swimming – This is especially great if somehow your apartment allows dogs in the community pool (make sure to check). Golden Retrievers retrieve game from water, so they’re naturally talented swimmers. They also have all the physical qualities of an efficient swimmer. Plus, they tend to love being in water.
  • Running – If you’re an active owner that frequently go on runs around the neighborhood, consider bringing your dog with you! But be careful – these dogs need proper training. Even though they’re energetic dogs, they’ll still need to slowly ramp up their pace and distance. Also, bring water!
  • Tug of War – Golden Retrievers are mouthy dogs and love to “bite” on things, though not in a vicious way. So why not a fun game of “tug of war!” You can play this with most of their plush toys and the best part is that you can do this in your confined apartment!

These are just a few examples of great physical activity games you can do with your Golden Retriever. However, feel free to test things out and be creative. Dogs will enjoy different things. The point I’m trying to get across is that they will need plenty of run.

If the dog is stuck in a confined space without proper and sufficient exercise, the dog will likely become destructive over time. There’s a good chance you’ll come home to your home wrecked. Couch ripped open, trash can flipped over and things scattered everywhere.

2. Mental Stimulation is a Must

Perhaps just as important (and maybe more) as physical activity is mental stimulation. But what exactly is it and why does a Golden Retriever living in an apartment need mental stimulation?

Mental stimulation in dogs refers to the mental exercise that’s needed to work a dog’s mind. The smarter the dog, the more of this they probably need. And trust me – Golden Retrievers are incredibly smart dogs. Would Einstein be content watching mindless TV all day?

You can spend all two hours a day playing catch with your Golden Retriever, but they may still be anxious and restless at home. The problem is that you’re only doing half of it right. As the saying goes, “a mentally stimulated dog is a happy dog.

Also, focus on mental stimulation too, training is a good outlet and a tired brain is necessary to satisfy your pups urges as well.

– lowershelf (Reddit)

The best part is that it’s very easy to do in an apartment. For most mental exercises, you don’t really need a large space. And some owners report that 15 minutes of mental exercises can tire their Golden Retrievers more than 30 minutes of physical exercise.

Here are some great mental exercises for Golden Retrievers:

  • Dog puzzles
  • Letting your Golden Retriever smell the plants and scenery at a park (scent games)
  • Hide and seek with your Golden Retriever
  • Obedience training (not just learning new tricks but also performing old ones!)
  • Search and locate (hiding your dog’s favorite treat and having him look for it)

As long as mental stimulation is added to the mix, we can’t imagine a Golden Retriever would get restless, anxious or destructive in an apartment.

While most dogs need about 20 minutes of mental exercises a day, we believe that Golden Retrievers should have a lot more because they’re highly intelligent dogs. Consider giving them at least 30 minutes per day. But if you have the time, more is often better.

3. Crate Training Your Golden Retriever

Yes, crate training is recommended for all dogs. However it’s especially necessary for dogs that tend to spend all or most of their time indoors. And because they’ll be living in an apartment, you don’t exactly have a backyard to keep your dog (please don’t keep them on the balcony).

So what is crate training? This type of training will teach your Golden Retriever to control his or her bladder and bowel while living indoors. You don’t want them to soil everywhere in the home, so this is completely needed for your dog to co-exist with you in an apartment.

How does crate training work? Dogs naturally won’t want to soil the area where they sleep. So if you teach them to stay in their crates, they’ll control doing their “business” until you let them out. This is highly recommended when the dog is just a puppy.

But keep in mind, you don’t want to leave your Golden Retriever in the crate the whole time you’re at work. They shouldn’t be in there for more than 6 to 8 hours at a time, especially with puppies. Plus, the crate must be spacious enough.

You don’t want the crate to be like a prison cell for your dog. That way, they’ll never want to get in and teaching the dog to stay in the crate will be a nightmare. Instead, it should be spacious enough for the crate to feel like a safe space for the dog.

That said, we recommend a few crates for Golden Retrievers. But our top pick is the Midwest Homes iCrate.

Without doubt, this is the best dog crate. It has all the features that make it easy-to-use, convenient and reliable. I actually use this crate with both of our dogs (Corgi and Aussie) and they both love it. I mean, there’s a reason why it’s such a highly rated product on Amazon.

4. Socialization Training as a Puppy

Socializing your puppy means letting them meet all different types of people and dogs in their early years. This is so that they become less frightened or anxious of real-world stimuli as an adult. If a Golden isn’t socialized, the friendly temperament they’re known for may not develop.

But why is socialization training so important for a Golden Retriever living in an apartment? Well, in an apartment complex, the dog is likely to encounter all types of people and dogs. You don’t want your dog to be barking at every single person or pet that passes by right?

Plus, a Golden Retriever that’s always barking at sights and sounds from the window can be a real problem for your neighbors that you share a wall with. In the end, socialization training just keeps your Golden Retriever on his or her best behavior.

Socializing a golden retriever is as easy as it gets. They’re naturally friend-seeking dogs and it’s actually hard for my golden to not make friends with anything standing on legs.

– Tristen19 (Reddit)

The best time to start socializing your Golden is around 3 to 12 weeks of age. However, it’s probably best to wait until your puppy gets all his or her vaccinations first. That said, we would suggest you start letting them play and interact with others around 7 to 8 weeks of age.

During this time is the “golden period” of your Golden Retriever. In other words, it’s the period of time where they are the most adventurous and free-spirited. They won’t be as cautious and will get to meet all types of people, dogs and animals (if you let them).

By interacting with all people and dogs, they’ll get to learn how to differentiate the good from the bad. In addition, a socialized Golden will be better at perceiving whether something is a real threat or a friendly encounter. Again, this is crucial in a crowded building like an apartment complex.

5. Obedience Training with Golden Retrievers

We’ve already discussed how and why mental stimulation is needed for a Golden Retriever living in an apartment. And yes, obedience training is a great mental exercise for these dogs. However, I want to dive into obedience a little more and discuss why its so important to be mentioned twice.

When living in an apartment complex, it’s not like you’re on a farm where the next neighbor may be a bit of a drive away. Your Golden Retriever will constantly be presented with all types of stimuli and reacting to it. After all, it’s in their instincts to react.

That said, it’s best that you practice obedience training with your Golden Retriever. And I’m not saying you should be striving to compete in the dog trick championship (though that would be cool), but at least your dog should learn the five basic commands:

  1. Sit
  2. Stay
  3. Come here
  4. Heel
  5. Down

So why is this important? Just imagine you open your door to get the mail and your untrained Golden Retriever leaps out from underneath. The dog spots and runs towards a small child to play with. Though with good intentions, your dog knocks over the child and sends her into tears.

This is a scenario that all Golden Retriever owners want to avoid. And this scenario most likely could be avoided with strong obedience training. For example, you could very quickly command “come here” or “stay” to stop your dog in his or her tracks.

Sure this is just one scenario but you get my point. All types of things can happen in an apartment complex and you want at least some control over your dog’s actions. Something awfully bad could happen when an untrained dog is presented with too many stimuli.

The good news is that Golden Retrievers are extremely easy to train in obedience. They are people-pleasing dogs in most cases, and will do whatever it takes to make you happy. Just make sure to always use positive reinforcement with your Golden.

Why Goldens Retrievers in Apartments Can Be Bad

Now that we looked at why and how Golden Retrievers can be fantastic dogs for apartment-living, it’s only fair that we look at the other side. The truth is, there can still be a lot of disadvantages and downsides to this living situation, especially if you don’t follow the 5 tips.

First I want to say that raising a Golden Retriever is not an easy task. Actually, it’s far from it. These dogs require a ton of time commitment. So if you’re too busy to look after these dogs, try some other dog breed. When living in an apartment, they’ll require even more time.

So you may be thinking, what actually happens if you don’t follow these 5 tips and still bring your Golden into your small confined apartment? Well, things can get bad and troublesome for you.

When these basic needs aren’t met (especially with exercise and socializing), you can expect your dog to take it out on everything in the apartment. They’ll bark until your neighbors complain and most likely destroy your favorite pair of shoes. And the thing is, you only have yourself to blame.

This destructive behavior can come in the form of excessive barking, whining, scratching at the door, ripping up the couch, knocking over trashcans, and so much more.

Remember that it’s even more important to provide your dog with obedience, socialization, physical activities, mental exercise and crate training, when living in an apartment. If you can’t do this, don’t own a Golden or move to a larger home with a large yard.


So what’s it like living in an apartment with your Golden Retriever. Do you have any tips and suggestions for those trying to do the same? Let us know in the comments section below!

RELATED QUESTIONS:

  • Are Golden Retrievers Good Guard Dogs? – Thinking your Golden Retriever can just guard your apartment all day while you’re at work? Think again. Here’s why these dogs make terrible guard dogs, though with some help, they can at least be watch dogs.
  • How Much Do Golden Retrievers Cost? – Got your apartment and ready for a dog? Here’s how much you should be expecting to pay for a puppy Golden Retriever. Plus, some alternatives on how you can get your hands on one of these amazing dogs.
  • Are Golden Retrievers Good With Cats? – Do you already own a cat and you’re looking to bring home a new puppy Golden Retriever? Here’s the complete guide to Golden Retrievers for cat owners.

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