So you’re getting a dog. Welcome to being a quasi-adult and the realm in which something depends on you to live. Your responsibility level is somewhere between houseplant and baby, so a dog it is. If your current life is also apartment-centric, you’ll benefit from doing a little research before snapping up a fur-baby like an impulse buy in the candy aisle. Avoid the pound at all costs before doing your homework or, like me, you’ll end up driving home with a dog in your car wondering how on earth it got there and what to do with it now.
Are they allowed?
This first one is a doozy. Are dogs allowed in your apartment? Is there a fee? Is it refundable? All things you should answer before buying the 40 lb bag of kibble and the sparkly collar for your new best friend. If your apartment doesn’t allow dogs, but you can’t move and you simply MUST have a loyal protector and licker of your face, be prepared for fines or eviction. Or just get a houseplant.
Shedding vs. grooming
There are dogs that shed and dogs that do not shed. If you hate being covered in someone else’s fur, as well as sitting on fur on the couch, and sweeping and vacuuming fur on a near-daily basis, getting a dog that sheds is a bad idea. The general alternative is getting a dog that doesn’t shed, but that requires grooming instead. Yes, you will have to give your dog as many (if not more) costly haircuts as you get for yourself, because grooming is not cheap. These dogs also typically require baths and brushing to stay snuggly. Either way, this thing’s hair is work. Just depends on how you want to clean it up.
It matters, but not in the way that you might think. Some larger breed dogs do just fine in apartment spaces, like bulldogs and greyhounds, surprisingly. If your apartment is shoebox sized, getting a Great Dane is not an impulse you should indulge. Toy dog breeds are the go-to apartment pet, but be sure to check the genetic proclivities of your new friend – some small breeds are far more energetic than larger breeds. In general, be sure you know how big it’s going to get (check the paws) before you buy. If you’ve got kids, be sure they’re big enough to not be squashed by a well-meaning giant of a dog. Squashing is bad for kids, we hear.
If you live in an apartment, presumably without a yard, you have to take your dog on a walk every time it has to pee or poop. Every time. Think about this for a minute. At least 4 or 5 times a day you have to drop what you’re doing, grab the leash, the keys, a poo bag and the dog and head outside for at least 10 minutes – even in the rain – while it does its business, which is usually not until it has sniffed 487 different blades of grass. Then, gloriously, you’ll be picking up its stinky gift for you and discarding it.
There’s no moment as proud as being seen picking you dog’s poo out of the grass. If you feel yourself incapable of poop duty, owning things that poop are probably not for you. Back to houseplants.
Some people want to come home to what is essentially an animate floor mop that will merely lay lazily on the couch while you watch your stories and decompress from a hellishly stressful job. Other people want to come home and take Fido on an hour long run through the park, followed by 3 hours of Frisbee and a drive around the lake. These people should not own the same kind of dog. Labradors, beagles, spaniels, and some toy breeds have energy to spare. If you’re looking for a sloth-dog, look into Bullmastiffs, the aforementioned Greyhounds and Bulldogs, as well as Puggles, Rat Terriers or Chihuahuas.
Good with kids
Do you already have children? Do you want them to continue to live healthy, safe lives unmarred by dog fights and inadvertent squashings? Most dogs are good with kids if raised with them, but some have poor tendencies with very small children (maybe they think they’re chew toys?) or are just too protective. Very large dogs carry their own baby-squashing dangers, so if you own tiny humans, make sure your prospective dog likes them, too.
Ah, yes. The most important part of getting a dog: finding the one that suits your fashion sense. Dressing your dog in obnoxious outfits is a crucial part of dog ownership. You will of course need reindeer antlers for Christmas and a costume for Halloween, but the dog clothing options don’t end there. Make sure your dog is the type to dress with flair and not merely lay on the floor pouting until you take the antlers off. Everyone likes a snappy dresser.
The illustrious author of this article, Stephanie Huey, is an itinerant writer, sub-letter of apartments and lover of craft beers. Her favorite sentences are those containing syllepsis or ones that mention Vietnamese food, of which is she is inordinately fond.