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PaperclipHearts 06-02-2014 01:24 AM

Is raising a German Shepherd in an apartment advisable?
Hello all!

Firstly, I just want to apologise for the long post - I do have a lot to say!
This is my first thread (though I have been stalking these forums for years! :)) I wouldn't normally post, but I felt my situation was a teensy bit different, and it would be well worth getting some advice and (hopefully!) support before I make any commitments.
Before I begin, let me just say I have NO INTENTION of getting a puppy, as I am well aware that it isn't the right time to get one! So I am looking at getting a young female, between 1 and 3 years old would be ideal, though I'm not against adopting an older dog... It's all about whether or not we *click*, as I'm ultimately looking for a four legged best friend.
Regarding my situation: I am about to start University this September. However, do bear in mind that nothing is set in stone at this point - I figured I'll do a 6 month trial of life at uni, see if I'll be able to cope with having a dog.
I've got a great support network, my fiance lives half an hour away and will be able to pop in to take her out for walks if I'm stuck in lessons, and the parents have said they'll look after her if I need help (they have a GSD as well). Also, I never drink or party, so there won't be any late nights with her left alone (at least, not because of partying...I'll explain later).
I own the apartment; it's a two bedroom place, on the first floor with a small communal garden. But it's right next to this massive Park. I have checked and they have a few dog clubs, which run evening obedience courses and the like, which I figured would be great for the dog.
I suppose it also goes without saying that I will take her for walks and give her plenty of exercise as well. I used to walk and play with Jess for 2-3 hours a day, until she dislocated her hip, and although op went great and it seemed as though she was recovering really well, she passed away 3 months later in February.
This wouldn't be my first GSD, as I raised Jess as a puppy at 12. But, I mean, I've always grown up with dogs - from 3 legged strays to Lassie lookalikes - so I have had some experience with dogs.
I know it may seem like a terrible scenario, but do believe me when I say I'll love her more than anything. I have this void where Jess once was, I miss the companionship terribly. I miss having a second shadow - like, she would literally get up and follow me from one end of the room to the other! Or the cheeky growls she'd give me when we were having a "conversation". Or the nights she'd spend keeping me company while I studied. 8 years of great memories.
I desperately want that again, to have a companion, and even though I'm aware it might not be the most ideal of situations, I'll give everything I have to care for her.
I am fully prepared for the dog, financially; I always set aside £100 for Jess for her food, treats, toys, etc. And I've got another £500 at least, set aside at all times for any emergencies that might crop up.
The other thing is that I'll be studying medicine as well, which means that I might have all sorts of weird hours (toward the end of the course, when doing placements), but the fiance has said he'll stay over if I'm gone for too long, not to mention my friend is renting out the second bedroom, so between the three of us, we'd be able to work out who keeps the dog company - although i do imagine she will inevitably be alone for a couple of hours a day. Again, all this depends on what my study schedule is like, and I won't get a dog if my schedule is too hectic, and if you guys think it's not the best thing to do.
Now that you know of my situation, I would greatly appreciate any input on this - what is your honest opinion, based on your vast experiences as owners and breeders?
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I hope you have a lovely day!


Pax8 06-02-2014 01:35 AM

42 Attachment(s)
Honestly, you'll get out what you put in with this breed. I've never known the dog's living accommodations to make as much a difference as the way they are handled by their owner. It sounds like you have quite a bit thought out, and I'm always glad to see someone doing their research before getting a dog. :)

I got my pup in my senior year of college, and we currently live in a 420 sq foot apartment. He does just fine because I make sure he gets the exercise and stimulation he needs to be happy.

I think you can do well with a dog in an apartment. And getting an older dog is a bit easier because they tend to be a bit less needy than very young puppies.

mego 06-02-2014 02:37 AM

I did the college + puppy thing for 2 years and after doing it, it is definitely possible but I don't recommend it unless you have a really light schedule. Definitely wait six months/ a year to see what college is like for you. It's probably easier not getting a 9 week old puppy like I did, but the actual apartment thing is no big deal - it's the time. Also from experience, it sounds like you have people to help you but really really don't count on that happening because sometimes it can't and when it all comes down to it it will be your dog. Just be prepared to do everything, have backup plans.

If after awhile you think college isn't too bad and you have the time , go for it. It's nice to come home from class and have a nice buddy to hang out with :)

TommyB681 06-02-2014 05:15 AM

I had 2 while living in my 1 bedroom apt. Its all how you exercise them

Tauntingbull 06-02-2014 07:56 AM

Great question OP.... I am thinking of doing the same thing...

Shade 06-02-2014 08:01 AM

Sure, it can be done. Planning and scheduling is key :)

Traveler's Mom 06-02-2014 10:52 AM


Originally Posted by PaperclipHearts (Post 5590970)
Hello all!
- I figured I'll do a 6 month trial of life at uni, see if I'll be able to cope with having a dog.

This is the only statement you made that I'm not comfortable with. What happens to the dog if you find you can't cope? I hope the answer isn't that you would quit the university since that would make no sense. I agree with previous poster regarding the support network you think you have in place. Maybe it will work but be totally prepared for it to crumble and you'll be solely responsible for managing YOUR dog.

I commend your passion and forward thinking but I would suggest you try the university life for a while then decide about getting a dog.


Gretchen 06-02-2014 12:08 PM

Since you said you were studying medicine, I'd wait for a dog until after your first semester. These classes are really difficult unless you are naturally gifted at learning. I studied nursing, and at graduation one of the students got up and thanked her sister for taking care of her two Australian Shepherds over that last two years. This student was an avid jogger but still had difficulty finding time to exercise her dogs.

My daughter was able to get through college with a dog, but she studied Human communications, not so grueling as medicine plus she has a roommate who worked opposite shifts and was able to take the dog out when my daughter was gone. Having a dog in an apartment is not difficult though.

LaRen616 06-02-2014 12:17 PM

Sinister spent the first 8 months of his life living with me, my boyfriend and 2 cats in a tiny apartment that was the upper part of a house.

We did just fine although we did share a fenced in backyard with our roommate below us. Even though we had a yard we took him to the beach a lot for off leash running and swimming and we went for walks and had doggy playdates with friends at their homes.

It is manageable to have a dog in a apartment as long as the dog recieves proper exercise.

John C. 06-02-2014 12:41 PM

Sounds like you've thought this out and are prepared to put a lot of effort into making it work. Honestly, I think that's the most important thing, rather than whether you live in an urban or rural area or the size of your apartment.

I agree with others that you can have a happy, healthy dog even if you live in the city in a small apartment. As a child I lived in an apartment in New York City with my parents, a younger brother and a GSD. It was everyone's responsibility to take the dog for a walk - my brother and I took turns doing it every morning, my mother walked it during the day and my dad walked it when he got home at night. Between us, I'm sure that dog got more exercise and attention than most dogs living in the suburbs.

The only thing I'd caution you about is that even if you get a dog that's 2-3 years old, they can live another 10+ years. You may have good handle on what your situation is now, but depending on where your life takes you, that could change in a few years.

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