Put yourself in a dog’s shoes (or, er, paws). You live in the Midwest, in a medium-sized house with a huuuuge back yard. You spend 80 percent of your time back there, sniffing around, lying in the sun, and running in circles until dinnertime. But then, one day, it all changes. You board a big metal bird that flies you from the quiet Midwest to the city. You and your human then enter a yellow car that drives down a street full of tall metal towers. And there are noises everywhere! Car horns, trucks, people. What’s happening??!
I’m sure these were the thoughts running through my dog’s head when I flew her from Oklahoma City to Brooklyn six years ago. Everything terrified her: all the people, the loud trucks that blazed down the street, the constant whir of police sirens. But the biggest hurdle? Not having that big back yard anymore. How is a country/suburban dog supposed to adapt?
First step: Be close to the park
When you first move to the city, make sure your new apartment is within walking distance of a park.
In the city, not all parks are equal. Some parks are massive, sprawling lawns of green grass, while others are concrete jungles with a few basketball courts thrown on top.
Dogs raised in the country are used to peeing on grass. Trying to get them to adapt to peeing on concrete is going to be a chore. So make things easier on you and your pup by taking them to a place that’s familiar to what they’re used to.
But beware: Dogs!
If your dog hasn’t been properly socialized or is just a bit of a loner, moving to the city is going to be a huge wake-up call for them.
It’s nearly impossible to avoid socializing in the city because dog owners and their dogs are nearly everywhere, from the busy sidewalks to the crowded park. Your dog is going to have to get used to all the attention, but this is a good thing.
Your dog will have more opportunities to meet new friends. In the city, there are unlimited butts to sniff.
Second step: Adapting to apartment life
Most dogs who are used to living in a two-floor house are going to have a hard time adapting to a tiny apartment. No back yard! Where will they run?
Although it might seem like country dogs have an advantage, city dogs are just as active, if not more so, as their country counterparts. Instead of simply opening the backdoor and letting your dog run around, in the city, dogs are walked as much as two to three times a day.
City dogs also get a chance to explore areas away from where they live, experiencing new sights, sounds, and smells every day. How exciting is that?
Okay, okay. So for anxious dogs, all the sights, sounds, and smells might be too much for them to handle.
For these types of dogs, you should probably avoid taking them to too many places that could overwhelm them. Start them off small by walking them up and down your block. Once they get familiar with that area, then you can take them farther. Eventually they’ll realize that those police sirens are not doomsday alarms from hell.
Third step: Transportation
The days of your dog riding shotgun in your favorite truck are over. In the city, most people rely on public transportation.
If you have a small dog, you’re in luck. Simply stash your dog in a large bag and you can take them just about anywhere. However, the sounds of the train can be intimidating to a dog who assumes it’s a large underground death trap.
Avoid riding the train or bus during peak rush hours and instead opt for late night or early morning rides where it’s less busy. Make sure to have lots of treats with you, too. There’s nothing more embarrassing than having a nervous, barking dog on the subway.
But what about the big dawgs?
Dogs larger than purse size are usually not allowed on the subway, but that doesn’t stop people from bringing their large dogs anyway.
For pup parents who prefer to follow the rules, we recommend living as close to work as possible. City life often makes such an arrangement difficult, so if you can’t make it happen you could always try a car service or get in the habit of going on a very long walk with your pup every morning. 🙂
Fourth step: Raising a more worldly dog
City life carries more experiences with it than country life. While sprawling yards and clean air are great, the city dog has more opportunities to explore areas they normally wouldn’t go.
City dog owners hate leaving their dogs locked in tiny apartments all day, and so we have a tendency to want to take our dogs everywhere with us, whether it’s to brunch, to work, to bars, or even to outdoor concerts.
After a few months in the city, your dog will experience more than they did back in their country home. Next thing you know, your sophisticated and well-traveled pup might start debating city politics with you while holding a monocle up to its eye.
Ahh, city life.
Nothing compares to life in the city.
Once your pup has adapted to the city’s pace and energy, he or she is sure to see it as their new back yard.