Skip to main content

Adjusting to NYC apartment living is a challenge in and of itself. Add a dog to the equation, and you’ve got yourself a real conundrum. However, just because something seems tricky at first, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Naturally, every dog owner would prefer if their puppy had a big yard and a mansion with many couches for endless lounging. However, life isn’t always that kind. Although the Big Apple isn’t a meadow filled with sticks and treats, the city is more pet-friendly than most people think. Some would even say it’s friendlier to dogs than people. Yes, life in New York with a pup does require more effort and discipline, but every New Yorker with a furry roommate would agree the companionship is worth the hassle. If you’re wondering how to help your dog adjust to NYC apartment living – you’re in luck. This article will fill you in on everything you need to know.

Find a pet friendly apartment and neighborhood

If you want to make the transition stress-free both for you and your dog, finding a pet-friendly apartment should be your top priority. However, finding a home in NYC can be daunting for anyone, let alone dog parents. Brace yourself for a lot of compromising and arm yourself with an abnormal amount of patience. Keep in mind that finding a pet-friendly apartment will likely require you to spend more money on deposits, fees, and many other things. Even if you start feeling frustrated and tempted to take the easy way out – don’t. Hiding your dog, no matter how small or well-behaved he is, won’t exactly keep the stress at bay.

In addition to finding a pet-friendly home, it would be a good idea to find one in a pet-friendly neighborhood. Not all areas are created equal when dogs are in question. If possible, choose a neighborhood that has many parks, off-leash areas, pet stores, vets, and other pet-related amenities. They will make your daily routine much more carefree, and your four-legged friend will feel it too. When trying to help an animal adjust to life in a big city, the least you can do is provide them with a patch of grass for those early morning number twos!

Don’t rush the process

Regardless of how big or small, transitions should never be rushed, especially when the participants can’t understand the reasoning behind them. You won’t feel comfortable in a new environment straight away, so don’t expect that from your dog either. Although it might seem counterintuitive, slowing down the process of adjusting will help speed through the awkward phase. Therefore, try not to expose your dog to too many new things at once. Go for shorter walks in less crowded areas of the city for the first couple of days if your pup isn’t used to the hustle and bustle of the concrete jungle. Minimize noises and stimulations in your apartment with long cuddle sessions and soothing music.

Moving is stressful enough even without adjusting to a lot of new things, so your dog and you need to get comfy in your new place before anything else. Luckily, NYC’s reputable residential movers can help you deal with the relocation without neglecting your pup’s needs and feelings. Remember, nothing is better than your undivided attention if you want to help your dog adjust to NYC apartment living.

Don’t skip the exercise

Exercise is vital for any dog’s wellbeing, and even more so if you’re helping them adjust to NYC apartment living. The Big Apple usually isn’t too generous when square footage and outdoor space are in question. Because of this, making an effort to include more physical activity into your daily routine is imperative. Both for the dog and the human! Try to squeeze in time for exercise at least two times a day, and even more if possible (this doesn’t include potty time). Depending on your furry friend’s likes and needs, the activity can range from long walks to playing fetch in the park. Whatever it is, make sure there is plenty of it! 

Exercise is essential for dogs who live in small apartments.

Once your dog is fully acclimated to living in NYC, you can feel free to take him with you when meeting with friends, running errands, or even going to work. If you’re lucky enough to be working in a dog-friendly environment, that is. Until both of you reach that level of comfort and confidence, however, stick to familiar areas and don’t try to push your puppy too much.

Train and socialize them

New York is a city that never sleeps, meaning you’re going to interact with people wherever you go. The moment you step out of your apartment, you will run into your neighbors. Passersby will want to pet your dog. Other dogs will want to sniff your dog’s behind. Even your landlord will probably want to meet your fur baby. To avoid any unpleasant encounters, it would be a good idea to socialize and train your dog as much as you can. Always keep him on a leash when outside, and don’t forget to reward good behavior. Avoid punishing him as this will only add to the anxiety and fear. If your dog doesn’t like to be approached by people or other animals, make sure that is very clear. Better safe than sorry!

Aside from crowded sidewalks, you will have to prepare your dog for other distractions as well. If you want to help your dog adjust to NYC apartment living, you will have to teach him that cars, loud music, and other noises aren’t a sign of danger. Gradually expose him to more and more stimulation and always keep an eye on his body language. If he becomes too excited or anxious, move to a quiet area until he calms down.

Make time for playtime

While exercise will keep your dog physically healthy, playtime will keep his brain fresh. And playtime shouldn’t only be reserved for the outside. NYC apartment living includes spending a good chunk of time inside. Therefore, it’s essential that time is well-spent. This doesn’t mean you should buy all the toys you can find (don’t tell your dog I said that). Depending on your dog’s breed and size, a couple of toys that are safe to play with even when they’re alone will suffice. 

However, this is not where the fun should end. Try to include brain-stimulating activities into your daily dose of playtime. These activities can range from learning a new trick to playing with various interactive toys and games.


Sufficient playtime is necessary if you want to keep your dog happy and healthy.

Whatever you choose to do, make sure your dog is never bored. While boredom in people isn’t such a big deal, it can be highly detrimental in dogs. A monotonous lifestyle can make an animal feel depressed, anxious, destructive, and even aggressive. So, embrace talking to your dog all day as if he is a human, play tug of war, go on long walks, and cuddle as much as you can. After all, these are the duties of a responsible dog owner.

Create a routine and stick to it

When opening your door and letting your dog out into a fenced backyard isn’t an option, a routine should come into play. To keep your dog both happy and healthy, set up a daily schedule for feedings, potty breaks, walks, playtime, and anything else you need to do. More importantly, once you find a healthy rhythm – stick to it. Your dog will learn it, and this will keep him well-behaved, patient, and content.

Include at least three outings and one or two very tiring activities or walks. However, keep your job and other obligations in mind and build the routine around them. The last thing you want is to get your dog accustomed to a schedule you cannot keep up with.

Avoid leaving them alone for long periods of time

Living in an NYC apartment means there will come a time when you will have to leave your dog alone. Since this is not something you can entirely avoid, it is essential to prepare for it. Introduce alone time gradually to avoid separation anxiety. Make sure your dog has safe ways to entertain himself when you’re not there.

Hiring a dog walker is an excellent idea if you have to spend long hours at work every day.

If your job requires you to be away for several hours a day, consider hiring a dog walker or a nanny. Remember, dogs don’t have the same perception of time as we do, so what you think is a short period is a lifetime in their eyes.

Final words

Contrary to popular belief, living in an apartment doesn’t have to be bad for your pup. In many cases, people who live in big cities tend to put more effort into spending quality time with their dogs. When trying to help your dog adjust to NYC apartment living, remember that sufficient physical and mental activity is imperative. Start training as soon as possible, and you can rest assured both you and your dog will enjoy your life in the Big Apple.

So your living in an urban metropaw-olis and your dog needs some more activities? Check out these 7 sports You can Do with Your Pup, starting pronto!

Photos used:

Skip to content