Dog Breeds Dog Training

Can a German Shepherd Live in an Apartment? Here’s 5 Things They Need First

Despite their size, can German Shepherds live in apartments?

So, you live in an apartment and you’re considering bringing home a German Shepherd. As active and large as these dogs are, you may be wondering: Can German Shepherds live in apartments?

Yes, German Shepherds can live in an apartment as long as the owner is responsible and provides the dog with it’s basic needs. In fact, many German Shepherds all over the world thrive in apartments. However, keeping these dogs in an apartment without meeting these 5 necessities can lead to destructive behavior.

With that said, there are things to consider when deciding whether to bring a German Shepherd to an apartment. Keeping large energetic dogs in small spaces boils down to management by the owner.

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German Shepherds in Apartments

German Shepherds can live in apartments if you meet these five basic needs of the dog.

The first thing you must consider is the apartment complex. Not every apartment building allows dogs, especially dogs of this stature. Though an apartment may be “dog-friendly,” they may have both weight and size limits.

Even though your GSD may be a small puppy, they’ll eventually grow to their adult size (in roughly one year). Make sure to consult with your landlord or apartment company before bringing home a German Shepherd.

As ridiculous as it sounds, some apartment complexes will outright ban specific breeds that they deem dangerous and aggressive. These type of dogs range from Pit Bulls to Bulldogs and even German Shepherds.

We personally think this is absurd because not all dogs are the same and environment/training play a big part into dog aggression. Still, this is the reality of apartment complexes and is something you need to consider.

The phrase, “but my German Shepherd isn’t aggressive like the others” probably won’t work well.

Be Honest

A common mistake that many owners is being dishonest with the landlord. For example, German Shepherds aren’t obvious as a puppy, especially to those that aren’t often exposed to dogs. They may claim that their German Shepherd is a Labrador Retriever or a Husky.

In the end, this can create a lot of trouble for you – both legally and financially. And because you’ll need to take your German Shepherd out all the time while living in an apartment, there’s almost no way of deceiving your neighbors and landlord when they’ve reached physical maturity.

Apartment Living: German Shepherd Basic Needs

The five basic needs for apartment living are: physical activity, mental stimulation, a dog crate, socialization and obedience training.

As mentioned, German Shepherds have a lot of basic needs that need to be met if they’re going to be living in an apartment. Don’t expect to leave your dog home all day and think that’s okay.

1. Physical Exercise

German Shepherds are herding dogs. As a result, they have a ton of excess energy that needs to be depleted on a daily basis. The problem with the lack of a large enclosed backyard is they aren’t able to get the exercise themselves.

One of the most important factors in German Shepherds thriving in an apartment is if you’re able to provide their physical needs. If you live in an apartment and you’re busy with work or other activities, then a German Shepherd is not right for you.

Daily activity not only keeps them physically healthy, but also mentally healthy. In other words, the last thing you want is a German Shepherd that’s bored out of his or her mind. This can lead to destructive behavior in the apartment while you’re out at work.

According to the American Kennel Club, these dogs need around 2 hours of exercise a day. Sounds like a lot to you? Then stay clear of these dogs.

German Shepherd Activities Outside Apartments

There are a lot of activities that would be perfect for when it’s time to take your GSD outside the small, cramped apartment. For example, hiking is a favorite among those with active lifestyles. Not only does this keep your German Shepherd’s exercise needs in check, but it can also help the owner too (that’s you)!

If your apartment complex has a pool and allows dogs to enter, then swimming is another fantastic opportunity to work out your dog. This is especially great because it can potentially work out your dog much more than it does you. German Shepherds that love swimming can easily get a great workout in an hour of dog paddling.

Playing catch with a ball or frisbee is a favorite among all dog owners with all types of dogs. German Shepherds will love this and it requires a lot less effort on your part. If you can train your dog to bring back the ball/frisbee every time, then all you need to do is throw!

There are a ton of other great ideas for exercise, you just need to put in the effort and time to do so.

2. Mental Stimulation

This is another highly important factor to consider when debating to bring a German Shepherd into the apartment.

German Shepherds are one of the most intelligent dog breeds in the world. And, they should be treated as such. Smart dogs need a lot of mental stimulation. German Shepherds are no exception.

In addition to a couple hours of physical exercise, I would suggest daily obedience training or puzzles to stimulate their minds. Obedience training is great, as these dogs are fantastic workers. They thrive best when they have a “job” to do. Whether it’s herding or commands, they’ll simply thrive at it. Make sure to bring in the dog treats.

Another awesome way to get some mental activities in is with dog puzzles. If you provide interactive and interesting puzzles for German Shepherds, they’ll be mentally occupied for a good amount of time.

My Favorite Dog Puzzles

  1. Outward Hound Ottosson Dog Puzzle – Sturdy and durable puzzle that requires your GSD to unlock the puzzle in order to access his or her favorite treats!
  2. PAW5 Wooly Snuffle Mat – A mat with several dog-safe scents to train your GSD’s sense of smell. Place treats in the mat and let them search for snacks!
  3. CHLEBEM Interactive Dog Toy Boy – A tricky ball where you hide treats. It’s fun, interactive and keeps your GSD from boredom. Plus, it’s 100% dog safe with non-toxic rubber.

These are just some of my favorite ideas to mentally stimulate your German Shepherd. It takes a lot less time than physical exercise but is nearly just as important. A little puzzle can go a long with with your German Shepherd confined in an apartment.

3. Proper Dog Crate

While in the apartment, there are a few things that you need. One of the most important and arguably your biggest one-time purchase is a dog crate. But why do you need one?

Because you don’t have a large backyard, we’re assuming your dog is living indoors (and not your apartment balcony). And for indoor dogs, you need to housebreak them.

Dogs, by nature, don’t want to soil the place they sleep (your apartment). So, you’ll need to teach them how to control their bladder and bowel.

Crate training is not cruel for your German Shepherd. Rather, there’s a lot of great benefits from crate training. One big benefit in your scenario is that it can teach your dog how to be comfortable in an enclosed space.

Now I’m not telling you to leave your dog in a dog crate and go to work for 8 hours. That would cause more anxiety and stress than necessary. Make sure you don’t leave your German Shepherd in the crate for more than 6 hours at a time, especially if they’re puppies.

The Best Dog Crates for German Shepherds

There are a lot of fantastic dog crates on the market. But after reviewing and trying dozens, we’ve narrowed it down to a few that’ll work great with German Shepherds – in apartments or houses.

  1. Midwest Homes iCrate – This is the best dog crate, hands down. It has all the features you need and want, plus more! There’s a reason why over 22 thousand before have given it an average rating of 4.5 stars.
  2. AmazonBasics Dog Crate – If Amazon puts their name on it, you can bet this is an excellent dog crate. It’s very similar to the Midwest Homes and is our second pick for GSD dog crates.
  3. New World Metal Dog Crate – Though it lacks some minor features of the first two, it’s a well-crafted dog crate at a very reasonable price.

Note: Always buy a dog crate for the full adult size of your dog breed. In this case, you’ll need a 48 inch dog crate. Considering limited space in an apartment, you can probably get away with a 42 inch for a female or smaller German Shepherd.

We picked these dog crates for a number of reasons. The first is that they come with a divider panel as an option or standard. Divider panels are necessary because your a German Shepherd grows fairly quickly. When they’re puppies, it doesn’t make sense to have so much space in a crate. With a divider, you’re able to adjust the living space of the crate according to his or her growth.

Another great reason for these crates is because of they’re foldable. Given most apartments are small, you want to be able to collapse these large crates into a compact carrier for storage or transportation.

4. Proper Obedience Training

We’ve talked about why obedience training is great for mental stimulation, which is absolutely necessary when the dog is living in an apartment. However, obedience training is crucial for another important reason.

German Shepherds are not quiet dogs. As a matter of fact, they will bark if they perceive danger. When you’re so close to your neighbors, you can expect sounds coming from all directions at all hours of the day. An untrained German Shepherd may bark at these sounds, causing problems with those around you.

For this reason, it’s very important that you teach your German Shepherd to have “manners.” In other words, they need to learn to not bark at any and everything.

If you’re lucky enough to find a dog-friendly apartment for your GSD, there’s a decent chance your apartment neighbors have dogs as well. I’ve been in a situation where another dog will bark, which sets off my dog into a barking frenzy. If possible, this should be avoided.

The best thing to do to avoid a “bark-off” is through obedience training. Keep them in check by teaching them being quiet is good! Always use positive reinforcement with your German Shepherd. For example, if they start barking, you should ignore them. The second they stop, give them high praise and even reward them with a treat.

It takes a lot of patience, but it’s well worth it in the long run.

5. Socialization

Again, living in a dog-friendly apartment means that there will be other dogs around – probably all the time. When it’s time to take your German Shepherd out for their daily activity, you may even come across a few other dogs.

So because of this, it’s important that your GSD gets a ton of socialization training early on. They need to be frequently exposed to other dogs and people to learn that they’re okay and not threats.

German Shepherds are large dogs and without proper socialization, they can seriously hurt and injure a smaller dog passing by. You want to avoid this at all cost.

Socialization can come in many forms. While they’re still small, take every opportunity for dog playdates. If you don’t have friends with dogs, no problem!

They can go to dog parks on the weekends and play with other dogs. Doing this at an early age makes them less intimidating to others dogs and people.

If you have some money to spare, it’s not a bad idea to take them to dog day care, especially when you’re at work. This provides them more opportunities to get exercise, but also helps with socializing.

At doggy day cares, your German Shepherd will be exposed to all different kinds of dogs.

Problems with GSD in Apartments

Without meeting the basic needs of German Shepherds, they can cause a lot of problems while living in apartments.

If you don’t provide your German Shepherd with these basic needs while living at an apartment, you may be in for a rollercoaster. And, I’m not talking about the fun kind.

A lack of mental and physical stimulation means that your German Shepherd will likely take it into their own hands to receive these basic needs. Destructive behavior may occur with these key necessities.

This means that your favorite pair of shoe may be torn apart by the time you come home. Or, it could mean that your couch will be ripped open after a long exhausting day of work.

None of these scenarios are something you’d want, but it happens a lot with neglectful apartment dwellers.

Unfortunately, apartment living with German Shepherds is no easy task. However, they’re highly capable of thriving in such a living environment. It’s really up to you to provide them with a way to make the best out of the situation.

Some owners even say they’re some of the best apartment dogs despite their energetic temperaments and size. However, not all German Shepherds are the same. Some takes a little more work while others fit right in. It’s up to you (the owner) to make this work for them.

Are there other tips you have to making apartment life work with a German Shepherd? Leave a tip in the comment section below to let us know! Also, if you have any questions, feel free to ask away.

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