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If you’ve fallen in love with Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers, but live in an apartment, you may be wondering how feasible it is to live in an apartment with a Toller.

Whether or not a Toller is a good fit for apartment life depends heavily on the exercise and stimulation you can provide to your Toller, and how much time you’ll be able to dedicate to their needs.

I have personally lived in an apartment with both of my Tollers, and while we made it work, they are much happier in our current home.

We’ll dive into how you can make apartment living with a Toller a possibility, as well as thoroughly look at what a Toller needs so you can determine if a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is good for you.

Considerations for Dogs in Apartments

First, let’s take a look at things you need to consider when you live in an apartment with your dog, rather than a house. These are especially applicable if you are renting an apartment, duplex, or other shared living space rather than owning a home.

The biggest worry of many apartment dwellers is the noise that their dog makes. Barking, howling, playing with toys, and wrestling can all cause neighbors to resent your dog due to excessive noise.

You’ll want to consider your apartment’s policies on noise, as well as your current neighbors.

Tollers are not known for being an especially loud breed in general, but they certainly have their moments.

Many Tollers are capable of emitting the “Toller Scream” when excited or frustrated, which is described by the breed club as if your Toller were being fed tail-first into a woodchipper!

They also often will bark at potential intruders – read: everyone in your apartment hallway – unless trained otherwise.

Training a Toller to be quiet in an apartment setting often takes time, and understanding neighbors as you work with your Toller to learn to be quiet when you leave them or when they are playing.

It’s also important to consider the logistics of owning a dog while living in an apartment.

When I lived in an apartment with my Tollers, we lived on the top floor of the apartment. The balcony was lovely, but I wouldn’t have wanted to potty train my dogs while living floors away from the grass.

Both of my Tollers came into the apartment with a history of potty training skills, as they were 1-year and 6-months when they came to live in the apartment, respectively.

If you are bringing a new Toller puppy into your life and currently live in an apartment, strongly consider a plan for potty training to ensure success.

You’ll also need to run your dog outside for bathroom breaks, rather than letting your dog outside into the backyard.

I personally much prefer being able to send my dogs outside without putting on snow boots, hat, and coat in the winter.

Finally, you’ll want to consider the space of your apartment.

However, other factors – such as if you can provide the exercise your Toller needs – are much more important than the size of your apartment itself.

If you can comfortably fit their crate, toys, food, water, and other necessities, you can make the space work for you and your Toller.

Even living in a home with much more room than our apartment, my Tollers still require frequent exercise and attention.

They enjoy having the backyard to run, and the increased floor space for when they get zoomies inside, but having a home does not negate their exercise needs.

Meeting Your Toller’s Needs

The bigger and more important conversation when you are deciding if you should live in an apartment with a Toller is how much time you can dedicate to meeting their exercise and mental enrichment needs.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers are very active breeds, and they are also incredibly intelligent.

This means that they require plenty of exercise outside of the home, as well as training and puzzle toys to keep them occupied.

When my Tollers and I lived in our apartment, their exercise and training plan often went something like this:

  • Daily walks around the neighborhood, usually 1-2 miles a day
  • Trips to a park where they could run on a long leash or hikes where they could sniff and explore at least 2-3 times a week
  • Daily training sessions for a total of 15-60 minutes
  • Kongs and other puzzle toys for almost every meal

At one point, I even took up running for a while (and I am NOT a runner!) in order to give my older Toller some more exercise.

If I happen to be sick for a few days, or exceptionally busy, my Tollers are more than capable of resting and spending more of their time inside.

However, it’s not a sustainable plan to only take your Toller on a few occasional outings or adventures and have them be content living in an apartment.

If you are searching for a versatile companion that will be up for every hiking adventure, attempt at trying a new sport, or other activities, a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever can very well be a good fit for you.

However, if you’d like a dog that can comfortably hang out around your apartment most days without extra effort, Tollers will likely not fit that bill.

Apartment-Friendly Exercise and Enrichment Ideas

  • Collect enough Kongs, Toppls, and other food puzzle toys to feed your Toller for the week. Once a week, mix their kibble with wet dog food, applesauce, plain yogurt, or the mixings of your choosing and freeze the puzzle toys. Each day, feed your Toller from these puzzle toys. You can replace their entire meals with stuffed Kongs, or offer them in addition to food in their bowl.
  • Find local parks, fields, or parking lots where you can let your Toller stretch their legs. Make or buy a long line – anywhere from 20-100 feet depending on the space. Let your Toller sniff and explore, or play a few repetitions of fetch or chase games.
  • Use a flirt pole. Imagine a giant cat wand toy, for dogs, and you’ve got yourself a flirt pole. This toy can be used to offer your dog short repetitions of high-intensity exercise and is perfect for busy days or when you have limited space to let your Toller physically exercise.
  • Spend time training. Tollers are incredibly smart and thrive on learning new cues. Consider working towards virtual titles or even enroll in a class – local or online – to keep you and your Toller motivated to learn new skills.
  • Take a sniffari. It’s much more enriching for your Toller if you take them on a walk where they can sniff and explore than it is to go on a walk with your Toller remaining in heel position the whole time. Many Tollers have an incredible nose and they are even used as avalanche search and rescue dogs in some locations.
  • Find places to run errands that are dog-friendly. On busy days, I would often choose places to run my errands that would allow dogs if I had the choice so that my Tollers could get out and about while I did necessary shopping. Check ahead of time to make sure pets are allowed, and never try and pass your Toller off as a service dog to get them in a store where pets aren’t allowed.
  • Invest in an assortment of puzzle toys. On days where you want to provide extra mental enrichment, but don’t have a frozen Kong already prepared, you can utilize other options such as snuffle mats, Buster Cubes, the Hound Games Hide N’ Treat, Licki Mats, Nina Ottoson puzzle toys, and many more options as a quick way to prepare a puzzle for your dog.
  • Create DIY enrichment opportunities. Using egg cartons, empty boxes, and toilet paper tubes, you can hide treats within to let your dog shred and destroy. Many dogs also love sniffing out treats hidden around your home.

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