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Hi...I am new at the whole dog game and I have some questions about living in an apartment with a dog.

I live alone and I've been wanting a dog for a while, but I've been concerned about leaving a dog alone in an apartment while I work. I went to the local Humane Society and asked for help choosing a dog that might have the temperament for apartment life, but they weren't very helpful...mainly, all they would give me was, "We don't know until you take the dog home". So I chose an older dog that seemed calm and unconcerned about all the hyper dogs barking and jumping around her, but friendly and not timid. Again, I asked a lot of questions, but for whatever reason, wasn't able to get much info out of the people there. (I understand that they can't know how the dogs will act once they leave the shelter, but I was hoping for a little more info so I could make a more informed decision.)

Anyway, I decided to give the dog a shot, after making sure they
had an acceptable return policy in case she was miserable living in the apartment. She is a 6 year old black lab/Australian shepherd mix named Sammie, and is very sweet. When I brought her home a couple of days ago, she seemed pretty excited and was playful for a few hours. She seemed a little stressed at first, but not for very long. She never seemed afraid of me; she warmed up to me pretty quickly and now sticks to me like glue. Also, she's not particularly jumpy or scared of loud noises.

After being playful that first night, playing tug of war with me and hugging me a lot, she seems to have really mellowed out. I took a few days off work to try to help her adjust, and I take her on a couple of walks a day (in addition to taking her out for potty breaks), which she loves, but when we are at home, she mostly lays by me or behind my chair. She does jump up when I walk towards the door, like she's eager to go outside, but she is not as interested in her toys or playing with me as she was the first night. I left her home alone for about an hour yesterday, confined to the kitchen, and she seemed fine. No potty accidents and no evidence of excessive barking or howling.

So these are my questions:

1) At her age, how much exercise does she need? Being in Phoenix, where it will routinely be 110-112 degrees every day pretty soon, there's not a lot of opportunity to get outside unless you want heat stroke. I thought of getting a bike and taking her with me on early morning and evening rides, but I don't know if she needs that much exercise or if the walks are enough. (No dog parks near me either, and she doesn't get along well with other dogs.)

2) Is the fact that she is so mellow when we are at home indicative of depression (maybe due to stress) or is it more likely that it's just her personality?

I really like her and I don't want to return her to the Humane Society, but I
also don't want her to be depressed because she's trapped inside all the time.

Any thoughts or information will be greatly appreciated!

P.S. I know people recommend small dogs for apartments, but I just really like bigger dogs...
 

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I would say a dog like that would need about 2 hours of exercise a day. I can understand it's super hot there and you don't want the dog getting overworked. Are there any places she can swim? Or any courtyards in your apartment where she can maybe play in a baby pool? Fetch is always a good way to burn off energy too. You can play fetch in your apartment or (if it's allowed) in the stairwell of the building. That burns a lot of energy! On top of that and being home alone a lot, maybe you could look into doggie daycare (if she likes other dogs). My dog loves playing with friends in daycare when there's bad weather and it really tires her out. Mental stimulation is always good for burning energy too. You can get her kongs or puzzle toys to play with while you leave for work, and train her to do some fun little tricks and basic obedience when you're home.

It doesn't sound to me that your dog is demonstrating too many signs of sadness, but just calmness. I mean does she have a droopy expression, sad eyes, does she sometimes refuse to eat or enjoy herself? If not, it sounds like she's just a middle aged dog who has a very chill personality, and in that case you made the right choice in picking this dog! I don't think she's struggling or showing any signs of distress, but if it really bothers you maybe ask a vet or trainer what they think. And some larger dogs do just fine in apartments, and small ones do terribly. It depends on the dog.
 

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Hi Haunted,

Welcome to the Dog Forum! All in all, I'd say that your new dog is doing very well. It sounds like she's rather content to be near you and relaxing in her new home. It's just going to take some time for her to settle in. Here's an article to give you some perspective on how long it can take an adopted dog to feel at home:

Three Ways to Confuse a New Dog

I'd highly recommend Patricia McConnell's book "Love Has No Age Limit."

And, keep in mind that she's a mature dog. I have a slightly older senior dog that I adopted last year. He sleeps most of the day and night, and he's very content. I take him out on three walks a day and he does just fine with that amount of exercise.

I hope that you'll spend some time reading and asking questions on this site. You'll learn a lot on how to care for your new best friend. And, please post a photo or two!
 

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@Haunted, I've had my dog since he was about 5 months old, he's now five years old. He gets outside time, walks and time to run free a few times a week. He's not a huge toy fan, but once in a while will indulge his humans. When he's in the house, he mostly lays around on our bed, though he will come out from time to time for treats or if he thinks we're going to go outside. He's pretty chill, never has an accident in the house, never chews anything. :)

In short, your dogs sounds a little like my dog. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks everyone for the information and observations. Being so inexperienced with dogs, I don't have a lot of confidence in my own assessments of her behavior and this is very helpful.

traciek88, sadly the dogs aren't allowed in the pool area at the complex. Also, there are no interior stairwells or corridors. I can look into doggie daycare but judging from the few encounters we've had with other dogs so far, I'm not confident she'll get well with other dogs. Do they have a way of assessing that before signing up?

She doesn't have sad eyes or a droopy expression. She eats and drinks plenty of water, and she perks up whenever I speak to her. She seems interested when I'm talking and in things I do. I did buy her a toy that you can put a treat in, but she hasn't been very interested in that.

SusanLynn, thanks for the recommendation for the reading materials. I'll definitely take a look. I've already done a lot of reading on this website and others. It's nice to be able to ask questions about my specific dog rather than speaking in general terms. I will post a photo when I can get a good one. As I said, she isn't particularly afraid of much, but she is a little camera shy and hides when I try to take her picture.

Dia, thanks for the comparison. It helps to easy my mind a little.

I'm sure some of my anxiety is due to my inexperience, with a dose of "she's too good to be true" mixed in. She seems pretty perfect so far. I'm sure I need a few days to adjust and relax, just like she does.
 

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Hi Haunted,

I came across this site a year and a half ago when I was a novice dog owner myself. Obviously, I'm still here because I continue to learn from everyone's experiences and I hope that I can encourage others like me who bring home a rescue dog and then ask themselves, "Now what?" Patricia McConnell's book was recommended to me in those early days and I found it very helpful.

I see lots of good signs - she's eating and drinking well and she's paying attention to her. Every positive interaction with you is helping her learn that you can be trusted to take care of her. She's already starting to form a bond with you and that's so important. Just take everything slowly. Let her settle down and feel at home. Try to think more in terms of weeks and months than in days.

About toys, my Miles, who's now approximately nine years old, doesn't show any interest in toys whatsoever. He's much more content to snuggle next to me on the sofa. I have no idea whether he ever played with toys when he was younger, maybe not, but not having to buy toys has sure saved me a lot of money!

What's her name, by the way?
 

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traciek88, sadly the dogs aren't allowed in the pool area at the complex. Also, there are no interior stairwells or corridors. I can look into doggie daycare but judging from the few encounters we've had with other dogs so far, I'm not confident she'll get well with other dogs. Do they have a way of assessing that before signing up?
Some daycares require temperament tests before the dogs are allowed in. Many daycares also have trainers there. You can go and ask if they can test your dog with another dog (that they know to be friendly) in a controlled environment. You could also give the shelter you adopted her from a call and ask if they tested her with other dogs because you're curious about the results.

I notice you said that because of some of her behavior you're not sure how she is with other dogs. It's possible you're right and she doesn't like other dogs, but sometimes dogs can be "leash reactive" which means they bark and growl at other dogs while on a leash, because they feel restrained and therefore frustrated. Some of these dogs are also aggressive off leash, but some are totally friendly to other dogs off leash. Although it's not something you want to test in an open field or dog park!
 

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Looks like you are off to a good start.

Some things to keep in mind is that dogs usually don't like being hugged. Most tolerate it, but petting is a better way to show affection.

Your dog may have been more playful initially because she was just trying to make a good first impression and would go along with anything.

Being calm and sedate is a GOOD thing, not really a sign of depression.

You mentioned in passing being reluctant to go to doggie daycare due to how your dog reacts to others. Have there been some instances where your dog interacted poorly with other dogs? If so that's something that can be worked on. Otherwise, finding your dog a 'play group' can be very good for the dog. Note that this doesn't take place of regular exercise. Also note that public off-leash dog parks can have bad behaving dogs and inattentive owners so can be a bit risky.

I'd suggest you start giving your dog some basic training. Teach sit, lay down, all those 'classics' just the act of training brings dogs and owners together and dogs need mental stimulus as well as physical stimulus.

You are right to be cautious about the heat. Note that you can to a degree counteract this by bringing water with you for the dog to drink. Dogs don't sweat, they pant, but you can simulate sweat by pouring cooling water on your dog.

Dogs also have different interest levels in toys. It can be both related to breed of dog but also of course individual dog preference. Terriers seem to really like squeaky toys, where retrievers like to play fetch the tennis ball. If it can be done in not too hot weather I'd suggest trying to play fetch. Labs also love water, so maybe on the weekend drive out to a lake and see if she likes to wade or go for a swim. Google tells me Cortez park has a lake for swimming and fishing, I'd suspect that would be okay to have you and your dog go there, if it is close.

You may be able to find dog-friendly places where you can take you dog into the air conditioned large space and walk around. Here in MN we do that due to the bitter cold weather. Both Home Depot and one of the other big chain hardware stores allows dogs into their buildings.

Finally, dog shelters do a lot of guessing. Your dog may be older than they stated or may have had a rough life, and so may just not have as much energy as a dog a few years younger.

P.S. Post some pictures!
 

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If she's just been with you a couple of days then she's likely just settling in and getting rid of the stress hormones that would have built up in the shelter. It's like when human has a really bad week, Saturday comes around and the person spends that day just relaxing and letting go of the tension that built up during the week.

In the coming weeks she'll start to show you how she really is. You may find she becomes more playful or she may never have much interest in toys She may be more energetic then you are seeing now. She may become more or maybe less reactive around strange dogs. Enjoy getting to know her, set up rules that you want her to follow, and figure out how best to manage her and her environment so that she does not have the chance to break them. Like if you don't want her to learn to counter or table surf then don't leave stuff on them that'll tempt her up. If you don't want her on the furniture, don't call her up and get her a cozy bed of her own and make using it the best thing ever.

Exercise her when it's not hot, and I do agree that she'll likely need 2 hours of exercise minimum. To further tire her out work her mind, train her, feed her out of food puzzles, and do nose games with her.
 

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Hi and welcome to the forum. We have always had rescue dogs, and just recently got our first pup (never again hahahaha). it sounds like you are both doing well. Samie enjoys being with you and lies at your feet and enjoys cuddles. She dosent stress out when you leave her, she is eating and drinking and not pooing or peeing, or being distructive or howling or crying when she is left...to me it sounds like you have your 'heart dog ' :)..by the sounds of it she is more than happy to be with you-well done !!! As far as toys go, not all dogs like toys, but as you dont know her past , maybe she never had toys are will need to be shown how much fun they can be . If she has lab in her she will most probably enjoy toys like stuffed kongs or interactive toys where food is a reward. Mental stimulation will tired her out too :). At 6 most of my rescue dogs were still very active, your dog has 2 active breeds so a couple of hours a day is probably what she needs. Maybe an hour first thing and again in the evening when its cooler. Swimming is fab exercise, and keeps them cool...if you have anywhere close by im sure she would love it. Fetch will bring out her retrieving instincts, although if she hasnt been played with much you may need to teach her. But at the end of the day , she will be your guide. If you have a happy chilled dog that sleeps all night chances are she is getting enough exercise :) Once again, welcome , and thankyou for giving this girlie a home . Dont forget pictures and updates , Beth
 

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Thank you all for all your helpful replies and information. It's all greatly appreciated.

I have no lakes close to me, man-made or otherwise. And I appreciate the sincerity of your suggestions to exercise her when it's not hot outside, but in the summer here, it is generally in the 90's by 5 in the morning and over 100 degrees at 9 in the evening. It is going to be a real challenge to get her the exercise she needs in the coming months.

Stay tuned for updates and photos...
 

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Congrats on the dog! I'm looking forward to pictures :)

Are there any training areas near you? Maybe you could look around for a class - that would help you both get a good obedience foundation, maybe find you some contacts if you ever needed in-person advice, and hopefully would be held in a good indoor center where your dog could get exercise/mental stimulation while beating the heat. They may have dog sports you could dabble in as well.

That said, I think you just need to feel out what her energy level is, and it may change. She's a mix of higher-energy breeds, but that's no guarantee she won't be more mellow. I had a Lab/BC mix that based on her breeds should have been hyper as all get out, but in fact she was very sweet and chill :).
 

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Welcome to DF and congrats on your new girl!

I'm sorry that the Humane Society people weren't very helpful. It sounds like you got yourself a great dog that just needs a little bit of time to come out of her shell. As long as you provide the mental and physical stimulation, dogs don't know if they're living in a studio apartment or a mansion.

I recommend puzzle toys and kongs for home. As much as the weather allows, walks are great. If you have a fenced in area near you where she can run off leash, that would be great for her.

I also recommend finding a local trainer (one that uses Positive Reinforcement methods). Based on her breed combination, I bet she's super smart! Start with basic obedience and if you wanted to move on to agility or trick training, I bet she'd love it. Training is a great way to bond with your dog and mentally stimulate them.

Looking forward to updates and photos! :)
 

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Thank you all for all your helpful replies and information. It's all greatly appreciated.

I have no lakes close to me, man-made or otherwise. And I appreciate the sincerity of your suggestions to exercise her when it's not hot outside, but in the summer here, it is generally in the 90's by 5 in the morning and over 100 degrees at 9 in the evening. It is going to be a real challenge to get her the exercise she needs in the coming months.

Stay tuned for updates and photos...

Back when the weather did that here in Texas in 2011 what I did was exercised my boy in the morning and late evening. I made sure to stay in the shade as much as possible, and did not walk him on surfaces that were still radiating heat.

As has been mentioned, walking her around dog friendly businesses like pet shops, and hardware stores are also helpful. 19 Dog-Friendly Stores Where You Can Shop With Your Pup - BarkPost
 
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Seems like shes going a great job adjusting and like others said - calmness is a good sign that she's comfortable. But that being said, her breed is known to be active and smart so providing physical and mental stimulation is still important.

I'm having the opposite situation over here with my new cattle dog mix - he still hasn't adjusted and is a ball of anxious energy when I bring him inside, even after hours and hours of high energy activity outdoors. He pants and paces when inside my apartment.

Good luck going forward with your new buddy!
 

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From a novice dog owner:
My boyfriend and I got our first dog in December and I was worried he was sad as well. He is very lazy inside and doesn't even like to play with toys except for fetching them when thrown and taking them back to his bed.
He is super energetic and excited when we go outside and enjoys walks and playing very much. But I guess being inside is just time for relaxing.

I understand hot weather and you sound like you have some good ideas with going out early morning and in the evening. Like others have mentioned just take some water with you and you'll be good.

Good luck! I hope you enjoy yours as much as we enjoy ours! :D
 
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