Can you raise a Golden Retriever in an apartment?

Is it possible to raise a golden retriever in an apartment? The short answer is yes, it is possible as long as you’re doing these 4 things. I break it down in the video below (and in this post).

To be honest, there are SO many people who have a YARD and don’t give their pup these four basic things, because they think the “yard will take care of it.”

This is why I’ve found that many people who raise bigger dogs in apartments have more mentally healthy dogs because they make a mindful decision to ensure their golden retrievers needs are met. So let’s get into what these four things are!

What are the components of making sure biological needs are met?

The first is ensuring your pup has proper nutrition.

Nutrition affects behavior — just like it does with humans. Imagine eating cheeseburgers and fries for every meal…eventually, you’d feel pretty crappy right? Same with our pups — if you’re feeding low-quality kibble every day, this can influence their behavior.

Second, ensure your golden retriever is receiving age-appropriate exercise.

Keep in mind, puppies do not have their growth plates fully set in so it’s important we don’t OVER exercise your pup.

Check with your vet how much exercise your golden retriever puppy should be getting.

If you’re unsure what is appropriate, this is a great conversation to have with your vet. As an adult, your golden will need a LOT of exercise, so you can play fetch on a long line leash, plan play dates with your friend’s dogs, or even go on a hike.

The biggest consideration with an apartment dog is that if you don’t have a yard, you’re either going to have to take your dog out each time to use the bathroom or have a potty patch.

If you’re adopting a golden retriever puppy, I recommend getting a real grass potty patch on a porch as pee pads are too similar to the ground and can cause your pup to have accidents. This is because puppies can “hold it” for about 30–45 minutes at a young age, so you’ll have to get a potty patch (unless you want to spend the majority of your time standing outside trying to get them to pee).

First is consistency — scheduling consistent times you go out with your dog on walks, helps keep your pup mentally healthy. This is because dogs are creatures of habit — they like to have consistency in their routine.

Second — make sure to spend quality time with your pup. This can be walks (no texting & walking), massages, or snuggling on the couch. If you’re gone for 8 hours per day at work, then come home to let out your pup, then go to happy hour…they’re missing out on that social interaction which can have a huge impact on their social needs.

My favorite way to spend quality time with my pups is to take a sniffari walk (aka ‘sniff n stroll’ walk). This is taking a long line leash, and taking your pup to a field where they can sniff. This is not only mentally stimulating (which we’ll talk more about next) but also relaxing as sniffing created anxiety relief. Try not to be on your phone and use this as your “zen” time as well!

Is there a secure place you let your pup hang out? Constantly redirecting or saying ‘no’ to your puppy will also tarnish your relationship. Rather than reacting to ‘naughty’ behaviors, try to be proactive and set up your apartment for success. Put away shoes in the closet so they can’t reach them, and have a safe area for your pup to hang out where they can stay out of trouble.

My favorite way to stimulate dogs’ brains is through force-free training. The basis of force-free training is showing your pup what you WANT them to do rather than what they’re doing wrong. I break this down IN DETAIL in my free on-demand webinar — 5 biggest training mistakes (& how to avoid them).

Another way is through problem-solving — I love using a CLICKER and using a technique called shaping which makes your pup use their brain.

I make sure EVERY meal is fed in some sort of mentally stimulating way whether it’s a snuffle mat or a puzzle toy.

Finally, I also don’t keep TOYS out at all times — to keep toys exciting, I rotate toys. For example, having 3 toys out at a time and rotating them out, helps keep your toys novel and exciting.

ALL IN ALL, as you can see, NOT HAVING A YARD is a very minor thing. Now if you’re going to adopt a golden retriever puppy, there are more considerations like making sure all of their socialization is done, potty training, crate training…

This is why I’ve created a mini-course called New Puppy Survival Kit that gives you everything you need to make sure you start your puppy off on the right paw.

It has everything from handling exercises, socialization checklists, crate training info, and more….

Basically everything you need to ensure your pup grows up to be a well-behaved family member.

Right now, I have a limited time special offer to get the course for just $29.

If you want some support from other like-minded pup parents, be sure to join my free PAWsome PAWrents Facebook Group.

Originally published at on February 8, 2021.



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Lisa Ullery Gallegos

I’m a Certified Professional Dog Trainer with free training videos on my YouTube channel, “Lisa Gallegos Dog Training”