I think my roommate's new dog is way too big for our apartment. Advice?

I live in a tiny apartment in Brooklyn. I don’t know any specific measurements, but my bedroom just barely fits a full-size bed (and nothing else) in it, and my roommate’s room is only slightly larger. Our living room/kitchen area is big enough to fit a couch, a bookcase, a desk, and a few other items of furniture. It comfortably accommodates maybe 5-6 people at a time. I live here with my roommate and, recently, his boyfriend and have for two years.

So far so good. I like my apartment and its location, and I don’t need a lot of space.

Last weekend my roommate’s boyfriend brought home a dog that he apparently acquired from a relative who could no longer take care of it.

The dog is an adult chocolate lab. Frankly, I know nothing about dogs, so I can’t really say if it’s of typical size, but based on my limited knowledge I’d say that she is. When she jumps up on me her paws come up to my shoulders, if that gives you any indication. I can post pictures if I get a chance later.

Originally I thought the dog was going to live with the boyfriend, whose apartment I have never seen. Turns out I was wrong, the boyfriend now lives with us, and so does the dog.

Firstly, I’m not even sure if you’re allowed to have pets in this apartment. I’d guess “no” just based on its size, but I really have no idea.

My bigger issue at the moment is that I don’t think this apartment is anywhere near big enough for a dog this size. When she lays down in the living room, she takes up almost all of the available space in it. Again, though, I know nothing about dogs, so I might be wrong.

I just came home this evening for the first time to the dog sans either my roommate or his BF. They’re out for the night. This is where I solicit the advice of Dopers wiser than I.

Firstly, the dog won’t stop crying. I feel bad, because she really is a sweetheart and I can only imagine that it’s been traumatic having three homes in as many weeks. I also don’t want to have to be the one to talk to the neighbors when/if they complain.

Secondly, she keeps pacing back and forth in what limited space she has. Again, I feel bad, because there’s really not that much for her to do here. Occasionally she spends some time looking out the window, which calms her down, and she seems to like it when I pet her, but these are only brief breaks in the crying. She doesn’t really have any toys aside from a little bone.

So my questions are firstly, whether I’m right in thinking that keeping a dog that size in a small apartment is, at best, ill-advised, and secondly whether any Dopers have any advice re: living with dogs in small spaces or can think of anything I can do to make this transition easier for her.

Any advice would be appreciated. I feel really bad for the poor dog.

It’s ridiculously ill-advised. A dog that big, of that breed, needs space, and it’s unfair and completely unreasonable for them to expect you to share your home with a big, loud dog.

So, firstly, you’re right to think it’s ill-advised and if anything you’re being very reserved in your criticism. Secondly, there is probably nothing you can do to make this any better for the poor thing, aside from buying it a few more toys or taking it for walks, but quite frankly

  1. You should not be out money and time for someone else’s dog, and
  2. That would set a bad precedent whereby you’d end up taking care of it.

I’d suggest you tell the roommate the situation is cruel tothe dog and unfair to you. That might not be easy to say but if there are any other solutions I don’t know them.

On another note, I’d also tell your roommate and their boyfriend that they should pay more of the damned rent, if they aren’t already.

That dog needs to run and streach out. Do you know how old it is?

Thanks so much for your quick reply, RickJay.

The situation is a bit complicated as I was informed earlier this week that I must leave the apartment within three months so that he and his boyfriend can occupy it exclusively. I have been subletting here for the past two years, so my roommate reserved the right to ask me to leave at any time. As it stands, I will be sharing my remaining few months with my roommate, his boyfriend, and the poor dog.

This is what I was afraid of.

Number two wouldn’t even be so horrible (I feel so bad for it), except that, as I mention, I simply won’t be in the dog’s life after I relocate.

In my experience, labs turn into big fuzzy slugs at about 2 years of age… however, they do still need and enjoy exercise. If your roommate/roommate’s boyfriend aren’t walking it sufficiently then a small appt. is certainly going to be too little space.

With the whining and pacing thing… To me, it sounds like the dog needed to go out and pee (etc). Something that shouldn’t be your responsibility, but could also potentially be a problem if your apartment mates aren’t taking care of it.


I’m afraid that I know almost nothing about it. I vaguely recall my roommate’s boyfriend saying that whoever he got it from had owned it for seven or eight years, but I’m not really sure.

The dog has calmed down somewhat from my playing with and petting it, but she still finds her way to the front door to whine afterward. My roommate left a note saying to put her in his room and shut the door if she gets too annoying, but that seems, well, mean…

The note they left said they had taken it out immediately before leaving, so I don’t think that’s it.

But I really have no idea - how often do labs have to be taken out?

Some large dogs can live in a tiny apartment, not a lab. A lab needs a lot of exercise, it’s a hunting dog, damn near impossible to exercise it to its heart’s content in the city.

BTW, my lab didn’t quieten down for the first 7 years.

I would consider that keeping a lab without giving it a hour’s run outside twice a day, minimum, to be pure cruelty.

If you can’t walk around your own living room because the dog is sprawled out and there is now room to maneuver, the dog is TOO BIG.

Even if the dog has enough space to be totally happy and healthy, what about you? It doesn’t sound like a good situation. But what I am reading between the lines, and right in some of the lines, is that you already know this. Good luck.

Oh, absolutely. It’s a crappy situation all around, but I can deal with it. If nothing else, it won’t be my problem once I move out. I just can’t say the same about the dog.

*Edit: I wish now that I had asked whether and to what extent they had exercised the dog today. I was out all afternoon so I really have no idea.

There is no way a Lab could possibly be happy in an apartment of that size. There are many dogs that are suitable for tiny apartments; labs are not among them. They are big, as you know, and rather energetic. They were bred as retrievers for hunting, and absolutely need to exercise and run a lot. I would recommend you advise your roommates to try and find a more suitable home for her.

Find out if having the extra person and dog is even allowed under your lease, you don’t want to lose your home because of your roommate’s actions.

I don’t think the dog is happy at all.

New issue: Every time somebody enters the building and/or walks up the stairs, the dog thinks it’s its owner and flips out and occasionally barks.

Will that… stop?

Took the dog for a walk. She ate and is resting now, so that’s good I guess.

The fact that they left her all alone and you came back to her crying is sad. Along with the fact that she spends so much time alone. I don’t think your roommate should have any dog, even a small one. They pretty much all need companionship.

Jesus. Is your roommate a total douche or what? Shove the dog in his room if it bugs you?

GAH! Personally, I think you and the dog should take off togther and ditch the roommate/new BF, but that may not be what you had in mind.

In the short term, the more walks you take the dog for, and if you could take her out to play fetch so that she gets some exercise she will be a bit less crabby, I think.

Really, though, expect angry letters and calls from your neighbours soon. I imagine that she’s probably barking her face off when she’s there alone.

This is exactly my concern.

When I got home this evening, I could hear her crying as I approached the apartment from the street. My roommate and his BF had no reason to think that I would be home anytime soon (in fact, it’s rare that I spend a Saturday night in; I stayed in tonight to finish up my law school apps), so what was going to happen if I never came home? The dog gets to spend all night crying and barking alone in the apartment?

I’m more concerned about what’s going to happen during the week. I don’t know my roommate’s BF’s schedule that well, but both my roommate and I work in Manhattan and are out of the apartment for at least twelve hours a day almost every day.

Your roomate sounds like a bad pet owner, getting a dog, when he apparently isn’t going to spend much time with it, but I’m going to disagree with the crowd on the dog/apartment issue. I have a Lab. I don’t have an apartment, but the Lab spends 99% of her inside time gated* with the people, into a living room or a kitchen that has to be smaller than your apartment.

She needs daily exercise. So do I. Neither of us (or the beagle) exercise in the house. The house is for relaxing, not for scratching the floors by running around with sharp nails in.

*she’ll stop being gated as soon as she’s old enough to have some self control.

Again though, it doesn’t sound like your roomate needs a dog in a home of any size. Getting a pet and never providing it with any companionship or exercise is cruel.

Oops, I went on and on about, and forgot to get to the main point of the thread. Twelve hours is a really long time for a dog to go without using the bathroom. People leave their dogs for eight hours, but that’s pushing it. I’d ask your roomate what is plan is for exercising and letting the dog out while you two are away. NYC should have its share of dog walkers, and at the very least, he needs to have someone come by daily to let the dog get some exercise and relieve itself.

I’d think if she’s getting enough exercise and attention she would be fine in a small place, especially if she’s a bit older, but even an older lab needs exercise. My family’s eight-year-old somewhat arthritic yellow lab still lives for daily sessions of Kong retrieval and few things make him happier than going to the dog beach, in warmer weather. (He’d probably love it just as much in the cold, but he does have arthritis. It doesn’t seem like it’d be fair to him!)

However, it sounds like the roommate and boyfriend have no idea what to do with her, which is a crying shame. Labs are awesome dogs. Poor pup.