You’ve got your heart set on a Golden Retriever, and who can blame you? Golden Retrievers are the third most popular dog for good reason.
They are a gentle, affectionate, easily trained breed, and their sweet, smiling faces and easy-going temperaments are hard to resist.
Chances are you already know that Golden Retrievers are excellent companions, great with children, and are friendly and outgoing, but what if you happen to live in an apartment?
Is your dream of owning a Golden Retriever even possible? Let’s find out.
Are Golden Retrievers Good Apartment Dogs? Yes, as long as they are given adequate exercise, are properly trained, are provided with frequent mental stimulation, and are groomed routinely, Golden Retrievers can adapt quite well to apartment living.
Some breeds are famous for being really good apartment dogs. French Bulldogs, Yorkshire Terriers, Pugs, Bichon Frises, English Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Maltese, and popular mixed breeds like Maltipoos come to mind.
So, what about larger dogs like Golden Retrievers? Can they be happy living in an apartment? Can it really work? Absolutely! Keep reading to learn how.
7 Tips for Success
Just because you live in an apartment doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the company of one of the most charming breeds around.
It’s true, you might need to make a few concessions, and there will be a period of adjustment, but it will be well worth the extra effort.
Without further ado, let’s get on with the tips!
1. Understand the Breed
Expecting a healthy Golden Retriever to behave like an English Bulldog, for example, content to lounge around for most of his waking hours, will only set you up for disappointment.
You need to be realistic in your expectations when bringing home a Golden Retriever.
Golden Retrievers were purposely bred to be active, energetic, intelligent dogs with a strong desire to work alongside their owners in the field for hours at a time.
These dogs are not couch potatoes, but they aren’t hyperactive either. Active? Yes. Out-of-control energy levels? No.
Not Guard Dogs
Counting on a Golden Retriever to bravely and ferociously guard your home and valuables while you’re away is a waste of time. Guarding behavior and aggression simply aren’t in their nature.
They may bark to alert you when someone approaches your door, but they are more likely to try to make friends with an intruder than to actively guard your possessions.
Goldens are famously friendly and loving. These sweet-natured dogs love to be around people, especially their family, and thrive when given plenty of attention and affection.
Be prepared to meet lots of new people when out walking your Golden because, as you’ll soon discover, people are drawn to Golden Retrievers like flies are to honey.
Strangers will likely approach often to ask if it’s okay to pet your dog, and your attention-magnet friend will relish the extra adoration.
Golden Retrievers are not yappy by nature, but they aren’t totally quiet either. Some barking is to be expected.
Golden Retrievers live life with such exuberance and care-free attitudes that they might bark with delight at anything that brings them joy or excitement.
Spotting through the window a squirrel leaping from limb to limb may elicit a bark or two as might someone ringing the doorbell or children outside screeching with enthusiasm while they play.
Situations that confuse or frighten them may also cause a few barks.
Dogs at Heart
Expect your Golden Retriever to act like a Golden Retriever, not a dainty, little lapdog or a cat, and be prepared to make a few adjustments or compromises to your lifestyle along the way.
Anticipate a dog with a good bit of energy; a friendly, loving, and pleasant temperament; and a bit of noise now and then, and you’ll be just fine.
Ensuring your Golden Retriever receives enough daily exercise is key to happily cohabiting in an apartment setting. This really can’t be stressed enough.
Goldens are rather energetic and need a proper outlet for their energy, or bad behavior may result.
Granted, most apartment dwellers don’t have the option of sending their dog out the backdoor to play in a secured yard, but apartment dogs need exercise just the same. (Here’s where the lifestyle adjustments start to come in to play.)
Two exercise sessions lasting 20 – 30 minutes each will usually be enough daily exercise for the average Golden.
Don’t limit the exercise to only brisk walks though, as you’ll both soon grow bored of the monotony. Try jogging, hiking, or teach your dog to trot beside you while you ride your bicycle.
This breed loves to swim, so if there’s a nearby lake, put it to good use.
Goldens typically get along quite well with other dogs, so a weekend trip to your local dog park is another option to burn off your dog’s energy.
Dog parks also give your pup the rare opportunity to run free, so be sure to bring along a tennis ball or Frisbee to play fetch with your retrieving pal.
Tip: On rainy days, run up and down an indoor or covered staircase several times with your Golden for a challenging physical workout (for both of you).
Because space is often limited in apartments, training your Golden Retriever is critical. Good doggy manners will go a long way towards an enjoyable relationship.
In addition to basic commands, you’ll want to establish some clear house rules, such as no jumping up on the furniture or no begging during mealtimes.
It almost goes without saying that the sooner your Golden Retriever is completely housebroken, the better.
This training is admittedly harder to accomplish for those living in apartments, but with some extra effort, it certainly is possible.
Some owners choose to allow their dog to use doggy pee pads during the night if the need arises to avoid having to take their dog outside in their pajamas.
4. Mental Stimulation
Bored dogs often get into trouble, and Golden Retrievers are no exception.
These intelligent dogs need mentally engaging activities to keep their mind busy and prevent destructive behaviors associated with boredom.
Car rides, visiting pet-friendly stores, playing games like hide-and-seek, socializing at the dog park, and figuring out a tricky puzzle toy are all great ways to encourage your dog to use his mind.
For more tips and inspiring ideas, be sure to read our guide to mental stimulation.
It’s a fact that Golden Retrievers shed, especially in the spring when they blow their winter undercoat.
You’ll soon discover that the beautiful, long, golden coat looks much better on your dog than scattered throughout your apartment.
The secret to controlling the mess is to brush, brush, brush. The more loose fur you remove with the brush, the less will accumulate in your home.
6. Safety Precautions
Balconies and windows that are within reach of your Golden Retriever can be dangerous.
Never leave your dog unattended on a balcony or porch, and consider installing window safety guards, especially if your apartment is not ground level and you often open the windows to enjoy some fresh air.
7. Have a Plan in Place
Golden Retrievers are very sociable dogs, so leaving yours at home all day while you’re at work is not ideal.
Another idea is to solicit the help of a neighbor during the day. Apartment dwellers really have the advantage here as there are so many people nearby.
Ask a fellow dog lover if he or she would take your Golden for a quick walk once or twice during the day in exchange for free babysitting on the weekends.
Get creative with your bartering and you may not ever have to pay a dime to make sure your dog isn’t too lonely while you’re gone.