Can Golden Retrievers Live in Apartments?

Yes, you can have a Golden Retriever in a flat or apartment as long as you are mindful of their needs. This doesn’t just mean going to the toilet, but also if there’s enough space for them.

Golden Retrievers are large dogs with what seems like unlimited energy. A large house and spacious garden will help if you have space for them to run around and play with you.

However, it isn’t essential to have a large house or garden to raise a happy, healthy Golden, providing you make sure they still receive plenty of exercise and opportunities to stretch their legs.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about keeping a Golden Retriever in a flat – the problems, tips to help toilet train your pet, and more!

Problems With Having a Golden Retriever in a Flat

There are problems unique to living in a flat or apartment when owning a pet. But aside from that, you should check that pets are allowed in the building. Certain places (especially if you’re renting or letting) might have clauses in the tenancy agreement about pets. You can learn more here.

When we got our first Golden we were living in a large first-floor flat with communal yard space. From experience I can think of several reasons why you may want to consider carefully before getting a dog if this is your situation:

Toilet Training

Toilet training will be significantly more complicated in a flat or apartment.

Putting on a harness/ collar/ lead and taking them down a flight of external stairs every time they needed to go out is time-consuming and can be the reason why accidents happen.

Sometimes my Goldie had accidents because the time between her alerting us she needed to go and the time it took me to coat/shoe up, put her harness on, and actually get out there, it was too late.  

Taking your dog out in the night while they’re still learning, meant getting out of bed and layering up in jackets and woolies to stand out in the car park for several minutes in the freezing cold. Compare this to opening the back door of a secure garden and watching from the doorway – one is definitely easier (and warmer).

Minus points if you run into a neighbour while you’re out there and you get caught up politely making small talk hoping they don’t notice your PJs and slippers.

I have a distinct memory of standing outside in the cold for upwards of 15 minutes pleading with my pup to “please just go already, what do you want? More treats? More toys? Less baths?” While wondering how she’s holding in a six-hour-backlog. 

Vaccination Status

Taking her out before her course of vaccinations were complete was stressful.

Before your pup has finished their course of vaccinations you should keep them away from anywhere that other (potentially unvaccinated) dogs may have been. Just in case your pup picks up a nasty (but preventable) disease from a contaminated area.

Living in a flat meant no private garden. Our neighbour had a dog too but we knew her fairly well and knew her dog was vaccinated. But you can bet that I stressed about it every single time I took our dog outside to relieve herself.

It also meant that we had no private place away from the general public. This meant that we had a fair amount of random people walking their dogs seeing her and approaching with their dogs without realising the situation.


Being a decent neighbour whilst training a puppy was hard.

Our pup loved to bark. She would bark at her reflection in the shiny fridge door, her food bowl, people outside the window, you name it. Let’s not even start on the cries every time we went to the shop without her. 

As you can imagine, we were very conscious of all of our neighbours hearing this all the time. We prioritised training to stop the barking as early as we could.

Another thing our pup liked to do was to wildly zoom around multiple times a day, no matter how much exercise she’d had that day. Our poor downstairs neighbours were probably wondering what was going on. Luckily for us, they adored our pup so it made things a little easier.


Important training didn’t go as smoothly without the safe open space.

Training recall is a vital part of being a good dog owner. We had no ‘safe space’ for her to be off lead outside which meant her recall training was all done inside (where it was lovely and quiet). 

I thought this was fine because she was really good at it… until we were outside and suddenly there were birds, people, other dogs, leaves blowing, and other voices. This was all just too overwhelming for her and she forgot all the commands. 


Golden Retrievers shed a lot. They also need regular baths – even more so if they’re muddy or dirty from a walk.

One disadvantage of having a flat is that you might not have a hosepipe and space where you can rinse your pet off. This means you’re Golden Retriever has to walk through your flat and use your bathroom to be cleaned.

You’ll also have to vacuum constantly – Golden Retrieves shred non-stop. Without the option to go outside, it means all the excess fur will be floating around inside and need to be cleaned.

Tips for a Golden Retriever Friendly Flat

If you’re looking for ways to make your flat (or apartment) more pet-friendly for your Golden Retriever, look no further.

Top 10 tips for Golden-proofing your flat:

  • Free up floor space: This means your Golden can move freely and has space to play.
  • Allow natural light: Goldens (like all animals) need sunlight. Opening windows for ventilation is also beneficial for their health.
  • Put away anything fragile: From excited jumping around to swishy tails, Golden Retrievers could easily knock over your favourite vase without even noticing.
  • Stick to a routine: For example, taking them outside shortly after eating every day. Goldies thrive off structure and routines.
  • Keep up with their exercise: Make sure you go on long walks to burn their energy and let them have fresh air.
  • Make sure they have stimulation: Kongs, toys, and puzzles can keep your pet happy for hours while they’re alone – reducing the risk of them being bored and destructive.
  • Dog-proof the apartment: This includes securing any windows and doors that are dangerous, especially if you’re high up.
  • Let them explore and get used to the flat: In a building with multiple people following different routines, there’s going to be noise most of the time. Letting your Golden get used to this will mean they aren’t so nervous.
  • Make sure their vaccines are up to date: You’ll be spending a lot of time outside, so having updated vaccinations will reduce the chances of parasites and illnesses being passed to your pet.
  • Train them: This covers toilet training, teaching them not to bark, not chewing, and more. This will allow for smoother living for you and your neighbours.

Tips for Toilet Training in a Flat or Apartment

If you’re trying to figure out how to toilet train your Golden Retriever, check out these tips:

  • Take them outside often: This gets them used to going to the toilet outside and forms an association between toileting and outside.
  • Use the same spot: Your dog will like using the same patch to go to the toilet. They’ll pick up their own scent and figure out what to do faster.
  • Praise them for getting it right: When they successfully go to the toilet outside, give them plenty of cuddles, kind words, and maybe even a treat. This’ll teach them that it’s a good thing and make them want to do it again. 
  • Take them outside before they’re left home alone: Giving them the chance to go to the toilet right before you leave means that they might be able to hold it until you’re back.
  • Clean up accidents thoroughly: Use correct cleaning products to clean the accident so there’s no lingering smell. This prevents confusion if they smell their old urine and associate it with where they’re allowed to go to the toilet.

You can also get pee pads to use inside. These should go in the same place every time and your Golden Retriever should be praised for using them. This is a good option to control where they go inside. Check out pet stores to get a pack of pee pads.

Final Thoughts

As long as you have done your homework and think you’ll be ok with the cons of bringing up a Golden Retriever puppy in a flat then there is no reason why you CAN’T do it. 

Try and be mindful of your neighbours where possible, not everyone appreciates dogs (shock, horror!) – although it does help that Golden puppies are so adorable!

Leave a comment