Dr Jo's tips for keeping you and your pets happy in an apartment...
Numbers of apartment pets are on the rise...
As the world's population increases, more and more people are living in apartments. While, in the past, pets were considered unsuitable apartment companions, this thinking now should be revised. In the absence of outdoor space and the confines of smaller living space, pets may be ideal 'friends' for apartment dwellers.
We do need to choose our pets carefully, however, and attend to their needs...
Choose your apartment carefully
Check that pets are permitted within your residence. You may also need to check which type of pet you are allowed and how many. Small dogs are often considered more acceptable in apartments, although they may have just as many issues as larger ones. this is often so that they can be carried across common space.
Consider whether outdoor space, either private or communal, is important to you or perhaps you would be happy with a park nearby. If you have a balcony, check that your pet is safe and cannot jump off or fall. In ground floor apartments or townhouses you may need to check that your pet is secure within the garden.
Choose your pet carefully
If your pet will be confined within your apartment for long periods of time, then smaller or less active pets may be more appropriate. Consider an adult dog or cat rather than a puppy or kitten. A Greyhound or a lapdog may have less need for space and exercise than a Kelpie or a Jack Russell Terrier. a goldfish may be the most suitable of all, if you spend all day every day at work!
Tips for happy apartment pets...
A pet’s eye view
Consider your apartment from your pet’s viewpoint. Get down on your hands and knees and view your unit from your cat or dog’s angle. Are there places to sleep; to get up high and feel safe; toys to play with; a place to eat; a private spot to toilet?
Room with a view
Most pets enjoy a view of the world around them so provide them with a window ledge or a table next to your window to look out. Be aware however, that disturbances outside may cause dogs to bark or cats to become stressed.
Views can also be internal. Cats like to sit up high and watch life within their home so provide shelves, sills, table and/or bench tops for them to have a ‘high rise’ option.
It's hot and it's cold
Pets often enjoy a sunny spot to snooze, especially in winter. In summer, however, you may need to block the sun’s entry into your apartment as temperature can quickly soar. Caged pets or those in tanks should be moved away from windows. Ventilation may also be needed but ensure that open windows are not escape routes!
Pets need access to a toilet area. This may be a litter tray or a specially designated toileting area on a balcony or in a bathroom. Ensure that your pet is able to reach their toilet at all times and that you keep it as clean as possible. Dogs can hang on until their regular walk but it still may be safer to provide a toilet area complete with pet’s toilet, pee pads or, at the very least newspaper.
Ensure your pet’s toileting habits do not impact on your neighbour’s enjoyment of their home. Always pick up poo in communal areas.
Fun and games
Pets like to play, especially those that are kept indoors so you must provide a range of toys for their amusement and to prevent any destructive behaviour. Rotate toys around to keep your pet’s interest and ensure you interact with your pet when you are home. Dogs appreciate regular walks and meeting other dogs, if they are well-socialised. Keeping your pet occupied and amused will help reduce any potential behaviour issues such as boredom, anxiety and noise.
Your pet’s behaviour may impact your neighbours, especially if your pet is extremely active or noisy! If you take your pet outdoors, ensure that you move them through the communal areas with care so that no stress, fear or mess results for your neighbours. Also consider how you would remove your pet should the unlikely scenario of an emergency evacuation arise.
If you are friendly with your neighbours, introduce your pet to them. Pets are a great conversation starter and your neighbours may appreciate having contact with a companion animal. They may even be able to help you walk your dog, feed your cat or provide holiday care. They may also be able to alert you if your pet is causing any problems in your absence. You never know – you may even be able to set up a pet community within your apartment block.
Dr Jo has been conducting City of Sydney workshops on keeping pets within apartment. Strata Paws and Petiquette are City of Sydney Strata Skills 101 workshops.