As an increasing number of us these days live in flats and apartments rather than houses with our dogs, property developers and builders are continually looking into ways to give people who don’t live on the ground floor better views and access to the outside world. This means that many flats and even some houses will have an outdoor balcony area above ground level, which can provide an excellent opportunity to set yourself up with a mini-garden, sunbathe on your own territory, and get a breath of fresh air without having to go down to the street.
Having a balcony can also be nice for your dog too, allowing them to go outside and keep an eye on the passing world safely, potentially even having access to the balcony when you are out at work. However, you should look at your balcony with a critical eye to ensure that it really is safe and appropriate for your dog, just as you would if you had a small child at home, and make any necessary changes to ensure that you can either keep your dog off the balcony when unsupervised, or ensure that it is safe for them.
In this article, we will look at the various steps that you should take to keep your balcony safe for your dog. Read on to learn more!
Many apartment dwellers use their balconies to grow a small selection of flowers or even vegetables, offering a valuable opportunity to add a little green space to their urban home. However, if your dog has access to your balcony too, you should make sure that anything that you plant or that may be within reach of your dog is not toxic, which means picking what you grow carefully, and ensuring that you keep chemicals such as fertilisers locked away.
The railings or fencing on your balcony itself is something that you should view with a critical eye where your dog’s safety is concerned. Toughened glass or Perspex panels are one of the best ways of enclosing your balcony while still allowing your dog to see out freely, and this is one of the best options for balconies that dogs use, but you should ensure that the gap at the bottom of the screen is not big enough for your dog to shimmy out under, as well as high enough to keep them from jumping up at it.
If your balcony is composed of railings, the gaps between the railings should be small enough to keep your dog from slipping out, and also not spaced out at such a degree that your dog runs the risk of getting their head stuck between the bars!
Letting your dog out onto the balcony can allow them to catch the breeze, watch what is going on, enjoy the sun and possibly, go to the loo if you have decided that this is appropriate. However, a quick trip to a small balcony should not be used in place of proper walks and playtime, and while your dog can play on the balcony with you, they should not be left to their own devices. Balconies can be rather cramped, and your dog may do themselves an injury or damage something on the balcony if they get excited, so try to make time on the balcony quiet, calm time rather than a place for a lot of rough and tumble.
Never close your dog out on the balcony, as outdoor time of any sort should be supervised and controlled, not something that your dog is left to do on their own. Your dog will need to be able to get inside and out of hot sun or bad weather if they wish to, and the balcony is not an appropriate alternative to a crate or other enclosure where you can leave your dog safely while you go out.
You can make your balcony comfortable and pleasant for your dog by placing a bed and some favourite toys out there for them, and using it as a spot that both of you can use to relax in. Try to ensure that at least part of the balcony is in shade with a parasol or screen, and don’t force them to stay on the balcony if they don’t want to!
If you do not wish to give your dog access to the balcony or have established that your balcony is not a safe place for your dog, you will need to look at ways of keeping your dog off it! Obviously, keeping the doors to the balcony closed is one way to do this, but if you want to get some air circulation in your flat or retain access to the balcony for yourself, consider using a baby gate or fence in the doorway, or mesh screens to keep your dog in while also allowing fresh air to get in as well.