City Dog Living
I was born and raised in New York City. I have had dogs here for my entire life. I also have parents who moved to Long Island with our dogs and I saw how different life was. City dog living is quite different from suburb living and it goes a lot further than just not having a yard.
House training is extremely different and difficult. Trying to get a puppy from his crate, out the door, down the hall, to the elevator and then outside can really cause a lot of extra accidents. I recommend carrying the puppy from when he comes out of his crate until he is outside on the sidewalk. If you have a large breed dog and the puppy grows too big to carry before you are finished house training, then I recommend being sure to have a strong “sit” cue and anytime you can’t be briskly walking, then have your pup sit. Most dogs will not go to the bathroom while sitting.
The whole addition of an elevator to a dog’s life is quite a lot. Without proper socialization, an elevator can be an extremely scary place for a dog. Strange people and other dogs are going to come into a very tight space and be enclosed, or even trapped that way, everyday, every time they have to go for a walk. It can be extremely scary for a lot of dogs; let’s face it some people are afraid of elevators.
Don’t break leash laws! Even if you think your dog is great, when you are in an on-leash area, keep your dog on leash because it makes for unequal playing ground if your dog can be off leash while all others are on. I liken it to you having to attend a dinner party and be the only person wearing handcuffs; it simply would not be as fun. Your dog relinquishes a lot of control to you while on leash, and it is unsettling for a lot of dogs to encounter a dog off leash while they are on; show respect for your neighbors and obey leash laws!
Don’t leave your dog tied up outside of stores: there are just too many people and other dogs who will pass, it really puts your dog at risk. There are people who will also steal your dog. These people either take them and use them as bait dogs in illegal dog fighting rings, or flip your dog, and sell it, far away, for a lot of money.
Your dog doesn’t need to like every dog! In the city you will see a lot of dogs, don’t just let your dog run up to greet every single one, even if she is friendly. A lot of other dogs aren’t or are in training, and you could be undoing a lot of hard work. Instead teach your dog to sit to greet, it is like saying “please can I go play?” And it gives you time to ask the other dog owner if his dog is friendly. If he says “yes,” you can release the sit and let the dogs play. If he says “no,” then respect that and move on. In my opinion you should thank him for being honest because it isn’t easy to admit your dog isn’t that friendly, but it is the safe and responsible thing to do!
Barking is something that threatens my clients homes at times; in city dog living we need to end barking yesterday! I understand the urgency when I go to help people with their barking dogs, but it is important to remember dogs bark; and while it is hard to find a place that it is appropriate in the city; it is crucial to find time to let your dog be a dog.
If you live in the city and are considering getting a dog or puppy it is important to plan time to socialize that dog to the city. If your vet doesn’t want him walking on the ground, don’t just keep him in your apartment. You have until he is 16 weeks old to socialize him to the sounds, sights and smells of the city. If you are adopting an older dog it will be a good idea to be sure the dog has walked on a busy city sidewalk comfortably. If the dog has lived his life in a rural, quiet setting, he might never get used to city streets, he might be too scared to walk down the street, and eventually even leave your apartment! It is very sad, but I have seen exactly this many times. The adjustment from quiet life to city life is a transition not all dogs can make.
The last thing I am going to say might sounds silly, but pick up your dog’s poop! Come on people, he’s your dog, clean up after him! I know we have all forgotten a bag once or twice, but make a conscience effort to clean up the mess your dog leaves behind. I am an animal lover to the core, and I don’t get grossed out very easily, but even I don’t want to step in dog poop! Also a huge pet peeve of mine; snow doesn’t dissolve poop! If your dog poops on the snow banks on the curb, you still have to pick it up.
I know that there is a stereotype that people in cities aren’t as friendly, but let’s do our best to show that this isn’t true for the dog community! There are a lot more of us in a smaller space, so perhaps we all have to be a bit more courteous, but dogs are incredibly social creatures and if you live in a city with a dog there are a lot of opportunities to socialize, play and train together; take advantage!