Big Dog, Small Apartment, No Problem!

Today, we are excited to have a guest writer on our blog. Mikayla, who works on Wags & Walks’ adoption team, is sharing her experience having large dogs in a small apartment - how it’s possible, why it works, and why you don’t necessarily need a yard to be a good dog parent.

This is Mikayla’s story:

I work in adoptions at Wags and Walks, and possibly the number one thing people say to me when they come in looking for a dog is: “I’m looking for a small one, because I live in an apartment and it’s not fair to the dog otherwise.” They don’t realize, of course, that they’re speaking with someone who has two 60 pound pitbulls in a studio apartment. And guess what? They’re absolutely delighted! Truth be told, the concept that a big dog requires a big space is an absolute misnomer; one of the best trainers I know once told me that dogs want to be near their person. They don’t care about square footage; if you’re in the kitchen, they’re going to be in the kitchen. They just aren’t the kind of creature who decides they need space, and if they do, their idea of space is scooting to the other end of the couch so they can get some shuteye instead of having mommy incessantly fawn over them (I’m a smotherer, okay?).

My Mae lived in a house before she came to live with me. She lived in it with 24 other pitbulls, where she was overbred and then abandoned when her owner went to jail. Weeks later, when neighbors complained about the noise and the smell coming from the house, police found her and her friends emaciated and neglected, without food or water for days. A few did not make it. Wags and Walks stepped up to save as many as they could, and I was assigned as her foster. That was my first experience with Wags. I decided to adopt her within 24 hours of her arriving at my apartment. I knew she was my baby.

Mae lives in half the space she used to. She doesn’t have a yard anymore, and she doesn’t care for the dog park. We go on long walks (she’s not a runner either) and we snuggle a lot. Sometimes she goes to daycare, and sometimes she goes on adventure hikes with her trainer. Occasionally she comes to work with me, but it makes her nervous so we don’t do it very often. She has a brother now, and they are best friends. It’s a good life, and I’m pretty sure she doesn’t miss her old one.

They broke a mirror once when they were wrestling. She got sick and pooped on my rug. Her brother, Bean, learned that he could jump the baby gate blocking the kitchen off and ate a dozen bagels. I bought a taller gate, and he learned to unlatch it and let himself in. He’s eaten a pound of christmas cookies, opened a bag of flour all over the kitchen, and got into my craft box and spilled confetti all over the floor. I invested in a Dyson and a childproof lock, and I make it work. It makes for great instagram opportunities.

Life isn’t perfect. Do I wish I had a yard for my dogs? Yeah. Do I wish I was a stay at home dog mom and literally spent every waking hour making sure they are happy? Absolutely. But I am a good mom, and I do the best that I can. That is all we can ask of anyone. My dogs are happy, they are safe, they are healthy, and they are cherished. They have everything they want, because all they really want is me!

You have all the tools to be a wonderful dog parent, regardless of your square footage, your work hours, or the status of your 401K. All you need to be a good big dog parent is love, patience, and a healthy sense of humor. The rest sorts itself out. So next time you visit our center, let me show you a squishy, hippo pitbull. Sit down and have a snuggle. Open your heart, and your home, whatever home that may be. The rest works itself out. That’s parenthood.


Thank you, Mikayla, for sharing your experience and hopefully inspiring others to open their apartment to larger dogs. If you’re interested in adding a new furry member to your family, check out our available dogs on the website! And don’t forget, we have a dedicated team of people, like Mikayla, who are there to answer any questions you have and support you throughout the adoption process.

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Team Wags