A fenced yard is convenient when you own a dog, but it’s not necessary.

Sometimes people who would like to adopt a dog think they need to have a house with a fenced yard first.

Sure, that would be nice, but it’s not a requirement. Dogs can get enough exercise in other ways. It’s OK to have a dog if you live in an apartment.

I would love a fenced yard, but I’ve never had one as an adult. My dog Ace is 8 years old, and he’s never had a fenced yard either. He gets a lot of exercise, training, socialization and interaction without a yard. (2019 update: Ace has passed away.)

I take my dog for a walk every morning. This is something I would do even if we had a fenced yard. When he was younger, I dedicated even more time to exercising him, and we often went running for an hour each morning.

Dogs don't need fenced yards to get exercise

Reasons why a fenced yard is not necessary for a dog

  • You can take some dogs to off-leash dog parks or beaches to run around.
  • Most dogs don’t use their yards for physical exercise unless someone is interacting with them. Instead, they sniff, pee on things, dig, take naps or patrol the fence.
  • You could hire a dog walker or runner to help you out if needed.
  • About one-third of people in the United States rent their housing, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council. Meanwhile, half of U.S. households have at least one dog, according to the Humane Society of the United States. I think we can assume plenty of dog owners are renters.
  • I would even argue that dogs without fenced yards actually get more exercise because their owners are more likely to walk them. These dogs are then more likely to be better socialized and better behaved in public, meaning they get to visit even more places. For example, in the top picture, my dog Ace is visiting a Mexican restaurant. In the second photo, he’s visiting a brewery.

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Other examples of happy apartment dogs

Amy from the blog Two Pitties in the City lives in Chicago with her husband and two adopted pitbulls (pictured below). Her blog is all about how easy it can be to live in a city and still have bigger dogs, even with no backyard.

She said taking her dogs on so many walks has helped expose her dogs to new situations such as parades and festivals. This has allowed Amy and her husband to do even more with their dogs, and she said the dogs are well trained and in great shape.

If they had a yard, Amy said she and her husband wouldn’t have the same type of connection they have with their dogs. She said she really enjoys the family time they have together while walking.

I also follow the blog We Live in a Flat, which features Donna the adopted mixed-breed dog who lives in an apartment in Singapore.

Donna loves to be outside for walks, where she gets to meet other dogs as well as sniff every patch of grass possible, her owner said.

The blog is partly about Donna’s owner learning to manage and train her dog to be “a good canine citizen in a high-density living environment.”

One of the great things about dogs is how easily they really do adapt to our lifestyles as long as we provide them with their basic needs.

Not all rescue groups require you to have a fenced yard to adopt a dog

Unfortunately, some rescue groups in the United States require adopters to have fenced yards, but other groups are more realistic.

If you’re trying to adopt a dog, keep looking until you find a rescue group that’s more down to earth. Shelters are usually more flexible than rescue groups, and I wouldn’t rule out adopting a dog through Craigslist either.

Now I want to hear from you.

Does your dog have a fenced yard?

Let me know in the comments!

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