If you live in an apartment with your dog, here’s one of the most important training skills they need to learn

Woman walking down stairs with her dog
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Unless specifically stated, any expert comments quoted in this news piece have been taken directly from the Instagram post cited below.

Apartment living with a dog can be tough. There are a lot of potential challenges, from your pup feeling trapped or bored to trying to figure out how to deal with bathroom breaks.

However, while living with you fur friend in a confined space comes with its own set of unique difficulties, there are also a lot of positives.

The best dogs for apartment living can give you a reason to get up and be active, they can help you make new friends with other canine lovers in your block, and they're great company if you live alone. 

But according to expert trainer Julianna DeWillems, training and rewarding with the best dog treats becomes even more essential for city-dwelling dog owners living in small spaces.

So, what training skills should you focus on? Well, DeWillems highlights the most crucial one in a recent Instagram video, which we're summarizing below...

"If you live in an apartment with your dog, one of the most important training skills to rely on can be attention to you," she explains.

"Having your dog pay attention to you, which we will define as being oriented to you, looking at you, and/or staying close to you, can replace unwanted behaviors like pulling on the leash, jumping on people, and even barking and lunging."

DeWillems says that while there are many challenges that can arise with living in an apartment with a dog, one behavior that can have a positive impact across the board is your dog paying attention to you.

"Building attention around distractions requires lots of training at home before taking the skill “on the road.” It’s important to remember to bring treats with you when you leave your apartment so that you can frequently reward any attention your dog offers," she says.

Working in an empty hallway or lobby can be a great starting place. Once your dog is able to pay attention to you when nobody else is around, you can start to thoughtfully add in distractions.

Make sure to reward your dog heavily any time they're near you or looking at you.

"You want to make it really worth it for your dog to pay attention to you, even as the environment gets more distracting," explains DeWillems. 

Apartment environments can be really tricky — especially for reactive dogs — but when you focus on building a strong foundation of attention on you, you can greatly improve your training relationship with your pup, making it easier to navigate the challenges. 

If you're looking for more great advice for raising a dog in an apartment, I don't have a garden for my dog but I meet all her needs without one — here's how, is full of helpful tips for ensuring your pup gets the mental and physical stimulation they need to thrive. 

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.