5 Ways to Keep Your Reactive Dog Happy in an Apartment

Who’s a good dog?! Almost every dog owner believes that their pup is a perfect angel. And while it may be true for some canines, most have behaviors and flaws that aren’t always fun. In some cases, dogs have downright frustrating behaviors.


When you have a reactive dog, basic activities like going to the park or even just a bathroom break around the apartment complex feel like a major chore. These tips can help make your reactive dog’s life a bit more comfortable–and yours, too!


What is a Reactive Dog?


A reactive dog is a dog that overreacts to certain stimuli, according to the AKC. Reactive dogs typically have a specific trigger that causes them to become upset. This could be walking on a leash, particular genders of people, or something more unusual like getting in a vehicle.


Reactivity can have different causes, including past traumatic experiences like being bitten by another dog or neglect from a previous owner. Some reactivity is also the result of genetics–for example, a working breed dog reactive to other dogs may see the other dog as a predator threatening their “herd.” Additionally, reactivity can be the result of poor training. A dog that is uncomfortable on a leash may exhibit reactive behaviors due to being in an unfamiliar situation.


Reactive vs. aggressive dogs


Reactive dogs are not always aggressive; however, reactivity can escalate to aggression and become a liability. Reactivity typically looks like whining, pulling on a leash, barking, or cowering. Aggression, however, is often characterized by biting, snarling, and snapping. An aggressive dog is usually a reactive dog, meaning that the reactivity has escalated, and the dog feels the need to defend itself.


How to Soothe a Reactive Dog in an Apartment Building


Just because your dog is reactive does not mean you can’t move to an apartment and live happily! These tips can help you and your dog be more comfortable.


1. Pick a low-traffic apartment location.


Reactivity is often a result of stress and fear. If your dog is fearful of other humans, it may become stressed if you live in a high-traffic apartment where people are frequently walking past your door. When choosing a place to live, it could be helpful to pick a top-floor apartment with less foot traffic or a complex with fewer units per building.


2. Minimize mail carrier stress.


If knocking on the door is stressful or upsetting for your dog, start including notes in your deliveries. Whether it’s a sticky note on the door asking delivery people not to knock or a note in your GrubHub delivery instructions, minimizing knocks on the door can help your pup relax.


3. Plan walks and exercise carefully.


Exercising at an apartment complex might seem daunting if you have a leash-reactive dog. After all, where can you take them?! If you’re in a situation where your dog is reactive to other dogs when on a leash but fine when they aren’t, consider taking them to the dog park where they can safely be off-leash.


It can be trickier if your dog is reactive to other dogs in general. Living in an apartment complex likely means running into neighbors with dogs, and there are probably other dogs when you go out for walks. Try walking earlier in the morning, in the middle of the day when possible, or later in the afternoon when there’s less traffic. Alternatively, pick areas to walk where there’s less foot traffic. The dog park may not be an option except at odd hours.


4. Make your home comfortable for your dog


Having a comfortable and dog-safe apartment can help keep your pup calm. A few ways that you can make your apartment more calming include:


  • Keep a reliable routine so that your dog has a predictable day-to-day.
  • Keep your dog away from windows if they bark or panic when they see people outside, or install blinds or even window clings.
  • Work with friends and family to help your dog become accustomed to visitors.


5. You may need to turn to professional training. 


If you feel like you’ve done your best to address your dog’s reactivity to no avail, it may be time to call the professionals. Dog trainers can help your dog learn positive behaviors in place of their reactivity. They may come to your apartment or have you bring your dog to a training facility. Training and learning together can help build the bond between you and your dog!


Find a New Pad for You and Your Pup

Is your reactive pup howling for a new, quieter place to live? It may be time to find a new apartment. Explore apartment communities near you that have everything you’re looking for. ApartmentSearch’s advanced filters can help you and your best fur friend find the new space of your dreams. Start searching with ApartmentSearch today!