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Bringing Home a New Puppy: 5 Things Renters Need to Know

There’s nothing quite as cute and cuddly as a puppy. But bringing home a new puppy to your apartment requires understanding what you’ll need to do for the puppy, both in the short-term and the long-term.

Having a dog is a big responsibility. From providing the right training to exercising the dog regularly, dog ownership should not be an impulse decision. They’re like children, requiring your time and financial resources.

However, they will also provide infinite amounts of joy and love. We don’t want to discourage getting a new puppy for your apartment — we just want to make sure you approach dog ownership with a solid understanding of what you need to do.

Make sure to check with the property owner first

Before we get started, the absolute first thing a renter should do is let the property owner know you are getting a puppy. Many property owners have pet fees, additional lease requirements, and breed-restrictions, which are mandated by insurance companies. So check first!

You then may have to fill out paperwork with the property owner before you can bring the puppy home. But please, take this step first — it can help you avoid potential heartbreak if the situation isn’t right!

Ok – let’s get to the fun stuff!

5 things renters need to know when bringing a new puppy home

In this post, we reached out to Shannon Skolaski of the Madison-based Dog’s Best Friend. Shannon is a behavior consultant and group instructor that works with individual dogs too. Dog’s Best Friend uses positive reinforcement to help train your dog (and the owners too!)

Shannon Skolaski, Dog’s Best Friend
Shannon Skolaski, Dog’s Best Friend

Shannon notes there are five categories that Dog’s Best Friend emphasizes for dog owners. We’ll touch on these first, then dig into some common questions about puppies.

1. Housetraining (potty) training: Keep them confined to a space

Puppies will want to go out often. But how frequently should you take them out? Shannon’s motto: “When in doubt, take them out.”

When the puppy first comes home, you’ll want to keep them confined to a space. This can be a crate or a blocked off area of the kitchen. If you’re renting, you’ll want to avoid carpet or porous areas.

Shannon recommends getting a good enzyme cleaner for the times when you can’t make it outside. Enzyme cleaners work at the molecular level to take away the odors people can’t smell.

General detergents or upholstery cleaners will leave evidence behind, and that’s not good. “Dogs are scent markers,” Shannon notes. If they leave a scent on a specific location, they’ll be attracted to that location time and time again.

Dogs are scent markers.

If your puppy continues to have accidents, time and time again, Shannon recommends either taking your dog to a vet or a trainer like Dog’s Best Friend. She also has the following potty training tips:

Here’s a video on potty training system designed for apartments and condos. It’s one option to consider:

2. Crate training: Give them a safe space

Shannon recommends crate training for all dogs. Crates provide a safe place for the dog, and it’s security for you as you’ll know exactly where you dog is. In the event you have to travel, the create provides consistency and mobility for your puppy.

To choose the correct crate, make sure it’s size appropriate for you dog. Also make sure your dog can stand up and turn around completely.

Make sure your crate is size appropriate.

If you buy a small dog that’s going to turn into a big dog, you can get larger crates that can be divided, so you can provide them with separate spaces for them to grow into. Here are some additional tips on the crate.

3. Chewing (chew training): Show them what’s appropriate to chew on

Chewing is a normal activity for puppies. They love to do it. Our goal is to provide appropriate things for your puppy to chew on.

Chewing is normal for puppies.

Shannon stresses room management first and foremost. Gate them from offices or areas where you have a lot of house plants. The idea is to prevent them from chewing on electrical cords or house plants.

You also want to provide appropriate chewing options for the dogs. That might include a KONG® toy with food stuffed inside, or toys and balls.

The other thing you can do is teach your dog to fetch. When you train them how to pick up things and drop them, then you will have a command when they pick up something that isn’t appropriate.

4. Puppy biting: Startle and redirect

Puppies bite because that’s how they explore. “They don’t have opposable thumbs, so they explore the world with their mouth,” Shannon said.

Puppies explore with their mouth.

The reason puppies have sharp teeth is because it helps them socialize. When they wrestle with their littermates and bite them, their fellow puppies will yelp, and they’ll get an understanding of what’s playful and what’s painful.

You can use the same methodology to discourage biting. Shannon recommends “startle and redirect.” If they nip you, make a loud noise. Say the word NO, clap your hand, or shake a soda can with pennies.

Then redirect. Provide them with a chew toy, or something that is ok to bite.

5. Socialization: Meet the neighbors

For puppies and dogs, the highlight of apartment living will be meeting and playing with other dogs. You’ll likely be meeting other dogs in the hallways and elevators of your apartment. It’s important your dog become socialized with the neighbors.

Shannon recommends quality over quantity when socializing your puppy. If you know a neighbor has a dog, knock on their door (without your own puppy) and ask if the two can meet. Then pick an outdoor location where the two can interact, preferably off-leash.

Puppy socialization is important.

What do you do if you run across an aggressive dog when you’re out walking? You don’t have to be friends with everyone. If you feel threatened by the dog, there’s no reason to say hello. Simply walk away.

Also be careful of dogs on-leash. Some dogs have had poor socialization on leash, and they can become overly aggressive. If you find your puppy is becoming too aggressive on-leash, you may want to seek the assistance of a dog trainer.

We’ve mentioned seeking the assistance of a dog trainer several times in this post. Here’s an audio interview with Shannon in which she describes what types of services are offered by Dog’s Best Friend.

Listen to it, and then scroll down to check out some frequently asked questions about bringing a puppy home.

Listen to Shannon discuss how Dog’s Best Friend works with puppies in this audio interview.

Audio Interview

Q&A: Other tips on bringing home a new puppy

When can you take a puppy home?

The ideal for puppies is 8-10 weeks of age. At this point, the puppy has had sufficient time with its littermates and mother, and it knows how to socialize with other dogs.

How to pick up a puppy

Shannon suggest using a scooping motion, like the one in this video. (The video also shows how to put a puppy back down.) Make sure this is only done by adults, and use two hands to be supportive.

What do you need to bring a puppy home?

Preparation is important, as you’ll be very busy when the puppy first comes home. You should have:

You may also want apply for a dog license, in the event puppy plots the great escape and steps out on his/her own. Here’s a link to apply for a dog license in Madison, WI.

Shop for necessities before your puppy comes home.

What to do before bringing a puppy home?

Puppy proof your apartment! Anything laying around should be picked up. That includes shoes (definitely shoes), plants, pencils, socks – if it’s on the floor, it’s considered a chew toy by your puppy.

You’ll want to invest in dog gates to confine the puppy to certain area, and then scope out a puppy bathroom area outside.

You should also research local veterinarians in your area. It’s best to pick one out before you really need one. Also, make sure you’re aware of the 24-hour pet emergency clinics, just in case.

What to do when you bring home a new puppy?

Plan to bring the puppy home when you’ll be there for a long stretch. Perhaps a weekend and maybe take a day or two of vacation. You may also want to consider hiring a dog walker (Dog’s Best Friend provides dog walking services, for example.)

How to welcome a puppy into your home?

“Slowly!” Shannon advocates. Take the time to introduce your puppy to the house. Go one room at a time, and always supervise your puppy to prevent any potty accidents.

Things to do with a new puppy

Besides playing, you can start working on teaching the basic commands – sit, come, down. You can get creative, too. How about a puppy high five? There’s also no better time to start with a dog training class than when they’re young.

A puppy high five can be fun to teach.

Bringing home a new puppy with another dog

If you have another dog in your apartment, you’ll want to follow everything we’ve mentioned here. Take it very slowly. Don’t leave the two dogs unattended with each other, and be sure your dog’s favorite bone, toy or food isn’t within reach of the puppy.

What if you have a barking dog and it’s upsetting the neighbors?

First, you might want to be proactive and let your neighbors know a new puppy is about to arrive. They might cut you some slack if there is some early bouts of barking while you train your puppy.

With a barking dog it’s important to identify the triggers. What could the puppy be barking at? People? Other dogs? Nothing at all?

You also want to consider the emotional status. Are they barking because they have separation anxiety?

Pinpointing the triggers is the key. If you can identify the sound, you can desensitize with things like a white noise machine. You may also want to leave behind a toy with food inside, so they have something to keep their brain active.

If the neighbors are complaining, your dog might be a candidate for doggie daycare. If there is someone in the apartment complex during the time when you’re away at work or class, perhaps they can watch your puppy.

How do you get a puppy to stop barking?

If you’re right next to puppy and they’re barking, teach them an alternative behavior. Make them go to their crate, or go sit down. Do not ignore the dog.

Bringing home a new puppy checklist

If you don’t currently live a dog-friendly apartment, be sure to check out Steve Brown Apartments listings. More than half of our properties allow dogs. Click on the link below!

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