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Puppy Raising in an Apartment or Dorm

It's not as hard as it may sound.

A big misconception about puppy raising is that it requires a house and a yard. That could not be further from the truth! Puppy raising can successfully be accomplished in a small space with some creativity and well thought out planning.

Maximizing your Space

Living spaces such as apartments and dorms can sometimes be cramped for space and can require using every inch purposefully and creatively. Here's some tips to maximize your space:

  • Set up a designated space for your crate

    • This could be in your bedroom or living area

      • We've seen raisers lift their bed and fit the crate under it or clear out a space in their closet (leave the closet door open of course!)

    • If you have roommates you'll need to consult them on the best spot

  • Turn the top of the crate into a puppy storage area

    • Collars, training treats, treat pouch, vest, poop bags, and other supplies can be put in a basket that is placed on top

    • You may even be able to put your food in a container on top if it's not too heavy

  • Command hooks can be used to hang your leash, vest, and treat pouch


The good news is that this isn't much different from living in a house. When potty training your pup be sure to carry them outside to prevent accidents in the hallway or even worse the elevator - it's better to be safe than sorry! Carrying them to their relieving spot also ensures that they relieve in the correct spot and not right out the front door. Most pet friendly apartments have designated relieving areas for the resident dogs. If your organization requires your dogs to relieve on concrete only, it can be more difficult to find an appropriate area. Find a concrete space in a quiet location of your complex for your pup to use the bathroom. Remember to always clean up after your dogs and dispose of your poop bags in the designated pet trash cans.


A yard is definitely not necessary for exercising your dog! Utilizing the sidewalk paths near your residence or local walking trails for walks are great ways for you and your partner to get fresh air and exercise. These are also great opportunities to practice loose leash walking and ignoring distractions commonly seen in every day life such as other dogs, trash or food on the ground, and small animals. If your organization allows, dog parks and fenced in open spaces can be great places to allow your dog to run, sniff, and have fun! Having trouble finding enclosed areas for your dog to play? You can use a long line to help your pup get their zoomies out.

Housing Laws

One possible barrier to puppy raising in a rented space is having the conversation with your landlord about your service dog in training. The good news is as long as your SDiT has public access in the state you shouldn't have to pay pet rent and your landlord legally has to let your puppy in training live there. Getting them to understand that can require some work. You can learn more about this and how to advocate for yourself in our resource on Access Laws.

Do not let where you live stop you from becoming a puppy raiser. These dogs may one day live in an apartment, be matched with a college student, or stay in a hotel and need to be prepared for each situation. Apartment and dorm living provides excellent training opportunities that a house sometimes cannot.

So many wonderful working dogs have been raised in dorm rooms and apartments.

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