How to navigate your apartment building with your dog
When I was moving out of Whistler and selecting a place for my dogs and I to live, my options were limited to basement suites or apartments/condos that were ground floor with direct access to the outside world. There was no way I was going to put Shorty through navigating the tricky labyrinth of apartment/condo living. However, not everyone can be as choosy as me, and thus, I present to you my guide on how to survive apartment living with your dog.
Get Tactical with your Gear
First off, you need the right gear to safely get yourself outside – You need to be able to control your dog in tight spaces and around blind corners. I recommend whatever from the following list works for you: head halter, front clip harness, martingale collar, or even a pinch collar. Your dog must be under control. A back clip harness with a flexi leash makes me want to poke my eyeballs out. However, your neighbours probably use these, so you need to be able to control your dog around other dogs zooming around.
If you are concerned about your dog possibly biting another person or dog, muzzle your dog. Train your dog to wear a muzzle – trust me, muzzle training can be fun – a legitimate barrel of monkeys. Be pro-active instead of reactive. Keep everyone safe, including your dog (remember, your dog is MOST important!).
Choose your routes – when I stay at hotels with Mulder and Shorty, we are rarely parading through the lobby and using the main corridors. I find the stairwell that is closest to my room and then I strategically park my car closest to its exterior door so that I give myself the easiest access in and out of the building. Using the stairs may not always be an option, but when it is, it may not be a bad one.
Countercondition to the Triggers
Dogs learn very quickly that elevator doors may open to very scary things – such as strange dogs, cleaning staff and people! So every time that elevator door opens, your dog needs to receive something she/he loves. This is easy practice during quiet times, when you can open and close the door and counter condition the heck out of it! The same goes for corners, doors opening and closing, footsteps, the jingling of tags – anything that may set your dog off. And of course, get out the goods for people and dogs you may encounter.
Getting out of your building may be like running the gauntlet, but with the right gear, rewards, a good attitude and some practice, you and your dog will be navigating your hallways and neighbours like champs.
I would like to thank Tabatha, Angela, Leslie and Karen for the awesome pictures (for once, my blog doesn’t feature my dogs!)