Apartment, condo, townhouse, and other shared-living dwellers have just as much ability to have dogs and raise puppies as house dwellers.
But, having to consider your neighbors in such close proximity can make crate training a bit more daunting as puppies are certainly not shy to share their voice.
Crate training in an apartment is difficult mainly because of the noise. Introduce the neighbors to your dog, make sure the crate is the right size, set a routine, make the crate the best place to be, and reward quiet behavior. Worst case scenario, soundproof the crate.
In this article, I will help all of the shared-living residents effectively crate train their puppy and stay on the neighbor’s good side!
Ready? Let’s dive in.
If you think about it, your puppy has spent the first few weeks of their life being vocal to express their needs. So when your puppy comes home to you, you have to expect your new canine best friend to continue to be very expressive.
Where this can be something easy to handle in a house, sharing walls with other people can be a bit problematic.
Most complexes have their own noise ordinance and bylaws regarding nuisances. A whining, screaming, or crying puppy may cause some tension between yourself and the neighbors above, below, and next to you. In extreme cases, this could even lead to fines and violations!
Unless you live in a penthouse, most apartments don’t have a very large footprint. Where this can make minimalist living a dream, it can be difficult to teach your puppy how to be alone if there isn’t a lot of space to keep them alone. One of the biggest challenges apartment dwellers face is combating separation anxiety.
Considering your neighbors become unintentionally involved when you share walls, there is an idea thrown around amongst dog trainers that you should introduce your puppy to your neighbors. Although this is very dependent upon someone’s individual situation, I think it could be a great idea.
If you’re friendly with your neighbors, ask if they’d be interested in meeting your newest family member!
This can be an excellent way to introduce the prospect of a new furry resident in the complex, explain that you’ll be crate training the puppy, and also express that you understand that puppies can be loud, and you will be doing everything in your power to mitigate any noise.
Opening the dialogue can create friendlier neighbors and a lot more leniency when the puppy is being a bit loud, and you’re trying to calm them down.
From your dog’s perspective, look into introducing them to your neighbors in the hallway or somewhere outside your apartment door. This begins to get the wheels turning in your dog’s head that anyone walking past your door is likely a neighbor, and it’s no big deal!
Vocalizations can come from the shock of hearing strange noises from the hallway and not being able to see what they are.
Now that you’re ready to crate train your dog in your apartment home, here are some tips to help make a difficult situation much easier. Most of the crate training routine is identical to being in a house with just a few considerate tweaks to ensure your neighbors don’t label you as public enemy #1!
The best way to crate train in an apartment is to mitigate potential problems before they even begin.
Because you don’t have the luxury of privacy in shared-living like you do in a house, you won’t have many chances to make loud mistakes. The first way to quickly prevent problems before they even begin is to make sure you pick the correct sized crate.
Picking the wrong crate will encourage screaming or crying in your dog and accidents inside of the crate. Both of which are a massive nuisance in an apartment!
If your dog is being very vocal, especially at night, it can be disturbing for those who live near you. Having accidents inside of the crate requires late-night emergency baths and cleaning, which will not only make you incredibly exhausted but can also be something that wakes up your neighbors.
Potty training will also set back a lot, which can be very stressful for a renter since renters need to worry about damage to the landlord’s floors.
The right size crate for your dog is one in which they can comfortably stand up and turn around but cannot walk around in it.
Next, setting a schedule for your puppy will also prevent many problems that your neighbors or landlord won’t appreciate.
Puppies thrive on routine because their mind and body work best when they know what to expect. Even older dogs (if you adopted a shelter pup or rehome that you are crate training) do really well with a structured schedule.
The schedule you set will dictate feeding time, potty time, playtime, and crate time. Your dog will know what to expect when and be much more behaviorally sound as a result. Plus, this allows you to work and have a puppy and live in an apartment because you can adjust the routine to accommodate both your pet and yourself.
The crate can’t shock your puppy’s system - even if your puppy had started on some crate training before arriving, act like they haven’t!
Leave the crate door open so your puppy can come and go as they please, opening up the freedom to become familiar with the kennel of their own volition. The more they explore because of their own curiosity, the better it’ll be because the crate is no longer a scary place.
You can encourage this behavior gently by tossing some treats or a toy in there and letting your puppy go inside by themselves. Don’t put too much pressure because you want to ensure the crate remains a very positive experience.
The crate needs to be the happiest place for your dog!
Refrain from using the crate for punishment or any sort of negative association because that is counter to how you want your dog to feel about the kennel.
Let all the best things in the world happen inside of the crate, such as feeding time, treats, and toys!
Encouraging naps in the crate is also a brilliant idea as the space needs to be something relaxing and comforting. The more the crate is an amazing place to be, the quieter your puppy will be in there. There will be less protest and more sleeping!
The more active your pup is, the more tired they’ll be when they hit home sweet home! If your dog is too tired to protest or make noise, you’ll have a much more peaceful existence in your dwelling.
A well-exercised and mentally stimulated puppy is also more inclined to be happy in their crate because they won’t have pent-up energy. Many obnoxious crate behavior stems from having too much unused energy and the puppy having to dispose of it.
As we mentioned above about the difficulties of crate training in an apartment, separation anxiety is a real concern in smaller spaces.
Separation anxiety is a condition in which your dog becomes panicked, stressed, and extremely anxious at your absence. Although not all dogs are predisposed to separation anxiety, behaviorists still do not know why some dogs develop it, and others do not.
Regardless of the type of dog you have, practicing alone time is extremely important.
After your dog loves and is comfortable with the crate, you need to leave them in there for short time intervals - gradually increasing this time.
Of course, there is a limit to how long you can leave a dog in their crate depending upon age, but you should absolutely teach them that it’s okay to be by themselves.
If your dog is more inclined to be anxious, try throwing in puzzle toys or something to keep them occupied in the kennel.
Nighttime is where the real problems of living in an apartment come into play. Most puppies will cry in the crate overnight, and you have to be there to stop them. The first night is always the toughest, but you can do it!
Firstly, for at least the beginning two weeks that your puppy is home with you, keep the crate next to your bed.
This allows you to not only be well aware of whether or not something is wrong with your puppy, but it also offers your little one a bit of comfort in their new environment.
This becomes even more mandatory for apartment situations because you have to stop the whining before it wakes up the whole complex!
In a house situation, you would typically ignore any sort of whining so your puppy understands that vocalizing in inappropriate ways will not get them what they want. However, you have to make sure your pup isn’t being a nuisance in an apartment.
If your puppy makes loud noises in their crate, wait for a small gap of silence.
Once you find this silence gap, jump on the opportunity to reward with a tasty treat and praise. Once your puppy starts crying again, repeat the above (reward silence).
Within a couple of days, your puppy should realize that silence is rewarded, and vocalizations are not!
If your puppy doesn’t get quiet when you talk to them, tap on the crate or otherwise make a noise that causes your puppy to get quiet to listen to what you had just done.
The point is to mark the appropriate behavior and not reward the poor behavior. Dogs are smart; let that intelligence train them!
Even when you do everything right, sometimes you just have a difficult puppy (that’s okay, it happens!).
Patience and consistency are big things with training dogs to love their crate, but having to consider your neighbors is another part of that equation.
If all else fails, it can be a good idea to temporarily soundproof your crate so that you can quell the whining by ignoring your dog.
There are various ways to soundproof a dog crate. Still, the main thing to remember is that you have to ensure your dog can breathe properly and that the soundproofing isn’t causing them to overheat in the crate.
The first method of soundproofing is to cover your dog’s crate with a thicker material that absorbs sound. Unfortunately, it won’t silence the noise but will muffle it tremendously.
Some recommend using thick moving blankets as the material is pretty good at sound wave absorption! Just make sure there are some openings for your pup to breathe and leave a fan pointed towards to crate as the thick material traps heat.
Another is investing in absorption sheets. Absorption sheets are special types of fabric that absorb mid to high-frequency sounds and reduce echoes. These often mount to the walls of your dog’s crate.
The third is to soundproof the room where the crate will be rather than the crate itself. You can look into music production websites and similar places for products that can mount to your walls and muffle the sound. Most of what you’ll see are foam boards that attach to the walls.