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Big Dog, Small Space: Ways To Make It Work

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Dog Breed Lineup

Do you have a big dog and are needing to downsize but not sure how, or if, it will work?  With a few considerations, big dogs can do quite well in small living spaces.

An article in the March 2013 Dog Fancy magazine offers some advice and a few things to keep in mind:

Size/Weight Limits

If you’re thinking about moving into an apartment, check to see if there are size/weight limits for pets.  Many apartments say “pet-friendly” but limit the size of pets residents are allowed.

Breed Of Dog

What breed is your dog?  Some breeds, although smaller in size, don’t do well in small spaces.  Herding dogs, such as Border Collies, can develop behavior problems quickly in small spaces.  Some large breeds, such as Great Danes, can do quite well in small spaces.

Are Dog Amenities Nearby?

Does the new home have ready access to pet amenities like dog parks?  One way to keep your big dog happy in a small living space is frequent daily walks, so check to be sure there’ll be a place close so you’ll be able to walk him easily.

Once you’ve done the research and decided to make the move, there are some things you can do to keep your pet content in a smaller space:


If there are areas of your living space that are especially crowded, train your dog to stay out of those spaces.  This will make for a safer and cleaner home


Take your dog for several walks during the day.  Dogs are much more content when they have a chance to eat, exercise and go potty than if they’re cooped up all day

Keep Them Busy

Provide interactive toys to keep him busy when you’re away.  As you probably know, if dogs don’t have enough to do, they’ll often create their own entertainment.  Fill a treat dispensing toy, such as a Kong, with a favorite treat and give it to him as you’re leaving to keep him occupied.

Get Social

Consider socialization opportunities.  If there are doggy day cares in your area, consider taking your dog periodically.  This gives him time to make friends and have space to run and play

Keep Space Uncluttered

Consider the available space.  To give your big dog more room, minimize the number of side tables, ottomans and knick knacks you have in the house.  If possible, make one room the “dog-room” and keep it as open as possible to give him more play to romp.  Another option is just moving the furniture to the outskirts of the room from time to time to provide an open area for your dog’s play.

Living in a small space with a big dog can have a few challenges, but for those that love large breeds, it’s worth it!


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