Keeping a dog as a pet in a unit or apartment

By Alexis

Keeping a dog as a pet in a unit or apartment? 3 MIN READ

Don’t let the limitations of space or living hold you back from keeping a canine friend by your side. It is especially easy to own dogs in Australia, with the country being quite animal-friendly in all locations. A 2016 Census of Population (ABS) found that 10% of Australians live in apartments and with 40% of households already owning dogs (RSPCA), people are seeking dogs for their apartment more than ever.

Oftentimes by-laws allow the keeping of dogs through an approval process that is decided by the body corporate. You can request for approval if you are an:

  •  Owner 
  • An occupier
  • A prospective owner
  • A prospective occupier

Even better news for us dog-lovers is if there’s no by-laws that state otherwise, you are free to bring your animal companion to the lot without sending a request.

However, on the other end of the spectrum there are prohibitive by-laws which prohibit all animals without exception or prohibit animals under a certain weight (10kg is usually the limit). As the owner you have the right to dispute any rejected requests but also as the body corporate, they have the right to remove the approval if any rules are broken.

It’s generally suggested that some breeds are better fit for apartments/small spaces than others. These breeds may require less exercise or maintenance, its advisable to do your research before moving with your current dog or adopting one to your unit. Small dogs such as Terriers, Corgis, small Bulldogs, Spaniels, Pomeranians, Poodles etc. are more suitable with small differences within the types of each breed.

An important thing to note in regarding dogs in an apartment setting is that excessive barking is number one in the top five causes of neighborhood disputes (Yahoo Finance). Depending on your local council, barks between 9pm and 7am or barks during the night may be considered excessive. This may lead to complaints and concerns from neighbors which may lead to fines in cases of neglect or unchanged behavior.

If your dog is approved and you’re good to go, then keep on reading!

Common Property

Your puppy family member should be able to freely roam in all areas of your owned
space, while remaining on a lead and monitored in all common property areas. Dog waste should be properly disposed of and dogs should be regularly treated and groomed. Should your dog have an accident anywhere on common property – it is expected of the owner to take care of the cleaning.

Space and Exercise
When constrained to an apartment or unit, consider the appropriate dog age and breed – young dogs or energetic dogs may require more exercise and forms of entertainment. Does your apartment have a pet-friendly grass area or close parks? Will there be rooftop access? Inside the home, will the balcony pose a risk or is the ground level garden secure? It’s ethical to walk your dog as often as you can as being in a smaller space can affect their psyche and health. It’s also good practice to only keep dogs that you are able to dedicate time to look after.


It’s important to dedicate training time and playing time. In a communal living space such as an unit or apartment, the behavior of dogs when noisy or restless would impact your neighbors. A happy and cared-for dog lowers the chance of upsetting neighbors and getting your dog into trouble. Your dog will need a easily accessible toilet area somewhere in the home if no private garden is available. Regular walks outdoors may also help in this instance.

Everyone’s Friend

A good idea is to introduce your dog to your immediate neighbors if you’re friendly with them. In this situation, neighbors may be even more understanding to any disruption or even be able to provide assistance if you ever require it. This can also ease more anxious dogs if they are sometimes left alone – neighbor's noises and other noises within the complex may take some getting used to for certain dogs. Integrating your dog into the property community makes it more enjoyable for all inhabitants, including your dog!