How to Live With a Hyper Dog in an Apartment

We have a 1-year-old weimaraner at the time of this writing and a senior black Lab mix living in our 2-bedroom, 2nd-floor apartment. This post is all about how we live with a hyper dog in an apartment. 

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Our senior dog is very mellow, and he’s lived in apartments most of his life. Our weimaraner Remy on the other hand is a typical weim. Calling him high-energy would be an understatement! 

Some people think this is wrong, cruel even, to keep a large dog in an apartment with no yard. That’s up to each individual to decide, but I don’t feel one bit sorry for Remy. This dog has it good!

I’m proud I’ve walked my weimaraner almost every single day for the year and 2 months that we’ve had him. The first day we got him, we walked 1 mile. He was 8 weeks old. Most days we go about 3 miles, which isn’t enough, but we get by.

2019 update: Our senior dog Ace has passed away and our weimaraner Remy is now 3.5!

How I manage my hyper dog in an apartment

You’ll notice that this is no different than managing a hyper dog in pretty much any environment!

How to live with a hyper dog in an apartment

1. We go for walks every single day.

And I mean EVERY day. We can’t miss a day.

Even on the day Remy was neutered, we walked before I dropped him off at the vet. The following day, we still walked 20 minutes with the vet’s approval. The day after that we were back to our usual 40 minutes.

If you have an active dog and you live in an apartment, you walk. A lot. Period.

More dog exercise ideas here.

2. We have clear rules for our hyper dog.

Dogs need to learn boundaries whether they are tired, excited, bored, playful or anxious.

We live in a small space, and we can’t have our maniac of a dog tearing around non-stop even if he has energy to burn.

So, we don’t tolerate a lot of rough play, chasing games, wrestling, etc. It helps that our senior dog does not tolerate this either. I will play tug with Remy for about 5 minutes most days, and then I put the toy away.

Here are some of our other rules. Our dogs understand these rules because there are no exceptions.

Rules:

  • No dogs on the couch.
  • No paws on the counter.
  • Begging for food is not allowed.
  • No chasing the cats.
  • No chewing our stuff.

Now, if I could also get Remy to stop jumping on me, we’d be doing pretty good …

how to live with a hyper dog in an apartment

3. We use a kennel/crate for our hyper dog.

We use a kennel as needed to give Remy (and us) some down time. He sleeps in his kennel at night and even though we work from home, we put him in there for about 2 hours on the average day. This is a place where Remy knows to be calm.

See our post: Is it mean to use a crate for a dog?

4. We stick to a routine.

We walk for a half-hour at 6 a.m. and again for 40 or 45 minutes at 4 p.m. nearly every day. Remy also has his potty breaks and meals at roughly the same times every day and we put him to bed around 9 p.m. every night so he knows what to expect.

5. We run together every Saturday.

Part of our routine since January has been to go for a long run every Saturday morning. For us, a long run is an hour or more.

This seems to keep Remy slightly less energetic until about Monday afternoon when combined with his usual daily walks. We’ve recently started training for an ultra marathon with our dog, so these Saturday runs will keep getting longer.

6. We go to training classes.

Training with a local obedience class helps me focus on making training a priority. I’m not good at planning training throughout the week so the class really helps because at least we have that 1 hour every Saturday where Remy and I work on heel, sit, down, stay and come.

Classes HELP us a lot!

7. Chew toys & bully sticks.

We give Remy things to chew on like:

He has access to something to chew almost all the time. Because of this, he hasn’t chewed up our shoes or anything else of much importance.

I recently bought the Kong Wobbler puzzle toy, and I’m so glad I bought this! You fill it with dry food or treats and the dog has to push it around to get the food out. This keeps the pup busy for 30 minutes or so! Amazing! If you have a hyper dog in an apartment, I highly recommend puzzle toys like this one!

Get the Kong Wobbler on Amazon HERE.

Kong Wobbler

8. Mental work & giving your dog a job

This is an area where I’m trying to improve. My dog is smart and he needs some sort of work to do. I’m not quite sure what Remy’s “job” is yet but he needs one. Maybe it’s our Saturday long runs. Maybe it’s wearing a dog backpack. Maybe it will be agility.

I’ve been playing “find it” with him where he looks for treats I hide throughout the room. He also has his new Kong Wobbler toy.

The point is, working dogs need to work and a walk generally doesn’t cut it.

9. Off-leash running

I have to admit I’m not very good at bringing Remy to places where he can run off leash, wrestle with other dogs or play fetch. This probably happens once every other month. I know, it’s bad!

I’m just not much of a dog beach or dog park person. But when I do take him, it makes a big difference. Probably more so than anything else we do.

So that’s pretty much it!

  • 2 walks per day
  • 1 long run on Saturdays
  • 1 training class a week
  • Plenty of chew toys.
  • A crate for when we need a break from Crazy!

He’s rarely tired but at least he’s manageable!

Other ideas

A dog backpack. Add it to your shorter walks (We’ll be getting one soon!)

Dog daycare. Try it once a week and see if you like it and if it’s a good fit for your dog. I’ve thought about it but haven’t tried it yet.

Hire a dog walker once a week: Use this in addition to the walking you’re already doing or to give yourself a break once a week.

Join a dog walking group. This is a good way to tire your dog out mentally as he’ll be walking in new places and seeing other dogs.

So as you can see, living with a super high energy dog in an apartment is a lot of work but it’s really not that bad. You just have to change your routine quite a bit and be dedicated to exercise. Otherwise, it’s not fair to the dog and he’ll probably start having more serious behavior problems.

Sometimes we joke about how Remy might be if we never walked him … he’d probably be at the humane society by now!

Do you have a dog in an apartment?

What are your management and exercise tips?

Let me know in the comments! It is helpful for myself and others to hear from people who understand the madness! Haha.

This post was originally published in 2017 and was updated in November 2019.

That Mutt is a participant in Amazon’s affiliate advertising program. As an Amazon Associate, That Mutt earns money from qualifying purchases.

Lindsay Stordahl is the founder of That Mutt. She writes about dog training and behavior, healthy raw food for pets and running with dogs.

21 thoughts on “How to Live With a Hyper Dog in an Apartment”

  1. I effectively keep a large working breed in an apartment (smaller house, divided so the cats have a safe dog free zone). My GSD lives on one floor and the cats have free access to the other.

    Granted, we have a fenced yard so that does help. But it’s a small city lot and relying on that for exercise would be inadequate.

    So we do:

    -Walking. Three miles is a normal walk for my girl. Four or five is better when I have enough time and energy. When we are walking as much as we should, we’re hitting 15-20 miles in a week. (Doesn’t always happen.)

    -Doggy daycare once a week. Usually we try for midweek to burn off some energy. She loves it. She isn’t always the most active but will play on and off during the day.

    -An empty field, a long line, and a Chuck It. We let her drag a 50′ line and throw the ball. Twenty or thirty minutes usually will do it.

    -Off leash hiking areas. Dog parks, yes – but we choose parks with hiking trails so no matter how many dogs are there, she can at least range and sniff. If there are other dogs to play with, great, but if not we are at least getting in a long walk without a leash. She probably trots 2-3 miles for every one I walk.

    -On leash hiking with a backpack. Sometimes we throw her in the car and head for a state park for a hike. She can carry her own water and poop bags.

    -Games in the house (“go find”).

    -Dog sports! Nosework is our sport of choice, but whatever your dog likes is good. Work the body and/or brain.

    The long and short of it is to be purposeful about exercising your dog. If it’s a walk and running obedience in the house or yard, that’s still something, but if you can plan ahead and build in opportunities for your dog to exercise mentally and physically, it really isn’t hard to keep a large, smart, vigorous breed happy in a small space.

      1. Oh, and once it isn’t so darn hot, I will strap the backpack on my dog and we will be trekking to our favorite liquor store, where I will purchase two bottles of wine. She will carry them home for me. She should be good and tired after that.

        It’s only a two-mile round trip, and she’s gone six with the backpack, but it also wasn’t as hot as it’s been the last couple of weeks.

          1. We have that Ruffwear backpack (the Approach) and really like it. We don’t have a need for it to come apart and just be a harness (which I think the Palisades does, but don’t quote me on that). The Approach is pretty lightweight and she doesn’t hate it too much, once she figured out it meant going somewhere fun. The pack holds an alarming volume of stuff (hence the two bottles of wine), so it’s pretty versatile.

  2. If you have stairs , especially carpeted ones, then play fetch. My dog gets a super workout when it’s raining or icy by running the stairs

    We also play fetch from the bed. If you allow your dog on the bed after jumping up and off the bed to chase a ball even a short distance for 15-20 minutes, that wears them out!

  3. We live now in a townhouse so we don’t have a yard, as such. I walk with Lambeau twice a day on most days. We’ve been trying to take him for a long walk on Sundays. We have a lot of parks and trails near us, so he can go to new places. He does wear his backpack unless there will be water for him to go into. There are a couple of big open grassy areas in the development where I can play fetch with him, so I try to do that daily, as well. I also keep working on his tricks and behaviors, and try to add in new ones just to keep him working on something. I enrolled him in an Attention class beginning in a few weeks, so we’ll see how that goes! I am hoping it will help both of us, by getting him to pay more attention to me with distractions around, and giving me better ideas on how to develop that attention. If we get through the two levels of that, I would love to try him at Agility. He always loved the few pieces of equipment he’s been exposed to, and I think it will help him burn off some energy.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I’m curious to hear more about the attention class! I would also like to try agility with Remy.

  4. We have a 14 week old German Shepherd. It was very difficult getting her energy out while she was still confined to inside only (per vet’s advice until vaccinated). This week she has been set free.

    We have a dog park at our apartment which is SUCH a life saver. She loves just roaming around outside without a leash. There’s a couple kids in apartment complex that love to practice her commands/tricks with her (she gets homework in her training classes) so she gets to associate with humans other than us at home. 🙂

    Love your idea of joining a dog walking group. I will look into that!

  5. I couldn’t agree more with you, Lindsay – it’s definitely doable to share an apartment with higher energy pups! When I started raising Missy & Buzz, we also lived in a 2 bedroom apartment, and just like you, we walked A TON!! I got backpacks for the pups when they were about 8 months old (checked with the vet to make sure it wasn’t too early and wouldn’t hurt their joints), took a basic obedience class, went for hikes on weekends, and socialized the puppies on our apartment complex grounds. We lived within walking distance of a shopping center with a Starbucks and a grocery store, and would also walk the pups over there. We got them 50 ft leads that we brought along on hikes so that the pups could stretch their legs and go for swims.

    So yes, it’s definitely doable, just requires time & energy!

  6. Danitra Walker

    I have a medium over hyper dog in my apartments he is a rat terrier mix beagle and we go on 4 walk a day the first morning walk is an hour long then at 1pm its 20 mins basically then again at 6pm that’s the hour walk when its cooler out then one last 15 or 30 min walk at 9ish. At night he sleeps on the couch and the kitchen is gated off so he dont go in the trash. Then only time he is in a kennel is when I’m gone longer then 4 hours during the day because during the day he has pee accidents not so much at night as he does during the day. It’s a big enough kennel to have food and a bed in but he always chews up anything that’s in the kennel with him he hates the kennel. We also go to dog parks on my off days because he loves playing with other dogs. But sometimes I feel selfish for keeping him and not getting more of a smaller lap dog when we dont have a back yard.

  7. Im thinking of adopting a dog rescued from china by a friend. Its been housed by a foster family with 2 kids. To me it looks to have border collie and labrador so im expecting high energy. However we live in a 2 bed flat and have a 3 year old so im wondering if this is a bad decision. Then again i work from home and can therefore get hom out for 4 walks a day around school run and in the lunch break. The dog would be about 7 months old if we take him. Im in the middle of making a decision any thoughts appreciated

    1. The issue I have w my weim is the he loves to walk but he is scared of noises. We start out great with a little trot but then after we go a short block or two he hears something, stops in his tracks and pulls us home like a sled dog. Any thoughts on getting Gunther to enjoy a walk without the anxiety?

  8. Hi, I have a 7 month old Dalmatian pup and I am considering moving into a downtown city apartment. I currently live in a more rural area with a yard for my pup to run around in. I have put him in training for two months and he knows the basic commands ( Sit, Down, Heel, Wait, etc.) and he is pretty good at leash walking. Our current struggles lie when we go into the city now, if it is not a super super busy day on the streets he behaves very well for such a young pup, but on a busier day he starts to get nervous. When he gets nervous he will attempt to jump on passing bystanders (obviously I don’t let him) but it is a struggle and worry that I have about moving into a big downtown area like London. I was curious if this was a struggle for you while your Dalmatian was a puppy and if so how you dealt with this. I plan to take the subway and public transportation, so before I move I want to be able to trust that he will be civil and respectful in a public setting. I was also wondering what you do with your dog while you are at work?

  9. I live in the middle of New York City with my six-year-old German Shepherd and siamese/X cat. We have a kitchen, bathroom, short hallway and main room; all that just to say that it is not a large place. When I first brought home my current dog, Kilo, I had a lot of trouble channeling all his energy. I have had a number of dogs in this apartment over the years, but Kilo was unique in that he required (and still requires) a great deal of attention and management. There is a dog park not far away, But it was “down-sized” and is now so small that it’s dangerous. (thirty strange dogs in a very small pen is a recipe for disaster.) so, in addition to his regular guide work, kilo gets time in an underwater treadmill. this helps a lot. We, too, have a lot of puzzles, mostly the Nina Ottosson kind as well as indoor ball playing. I would give anything to have a place he could run off-leash outside, but such is not the case. he’s gotten much better then when I first got him. He no longer choose things or devours paper towels. There are times when I still feel as if I have a six-year-old child Who is constantly yelling, “ look at me!” But he’s a smart funny dog and I think the world of him. earlier this year, he had surgery on his paw and couldn’t do anything for six weeks, other than short trips outside to relieve. We drove each other up the walls, but we managed. so, if I can do it, so can you.

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