Raising a puppy in a big city faces completely different challenges than bringing up a dog in the suburbs. Growing up, when we were housebreaking our beagle, all I remember was running her out the back door when she started to go to the bathroom and leaving her out in the yard. For urbanites, it’s a bit more complicated. For instance “running out the back door” typically involves running down a bunch of stairs, or waiting for the elevator, or ushering the pups to the balcony. For these reasons, there are a number of must-dos for city living with a dog that you might not think about unless you’ve done it before.
Here’s what to keep in mind while maintaining a dog in a concrete jungle:
People and noises
In the first few months of their lives, my beagle puppies have probably met more people, dogs and kids than my beagle Bailey has in all her 12 years. They’re used to sirens, can pee when the garbage truck rumbles by, and don’t stir from slumber when the neighborhood homeless person starts singing at 1 a.m. A lot of this happens naturally, but for the situations that aren’t natural or for city elements that are actually scary to an animal, extra effort will need to be put in. City pups have to be more well-adjusted, well-behaved and friendly than their suburban counterparts. This may mean puppy classes, socialization sessions or private puppy training lessons. The early months are crucial in forming good associations with your puppy.
Take them everywhere
We all probably want that dog that will lounge with us while we eat brunch on the patio of a restaurant. We want a dog we can take places without without it being a huge hassle. While it’s clearly more of a hassle when they’re little, it’s crucial to begin conditioning them for this type of lifestyle. We have Barkley and Bianca at six weeks, so they hadn’t had enough shots to even be on the ground, but we put them in bags and took them to coffee shops, the laundry mat, and on the bus with us – practically wherever we went. Now they’re definitely not in the “lie down on the patio phase,” but going places with us has become second nature.
Get your pets used to your method of transportation. If you have a car, by all means, drive them around with you… But many city-dwellers don’t, and so your pups will need to be accustomed to busses, trains, and taxis. Whatever your main mode of transportation is, make sure your dogs are exposed to it.
The crate is your best friend
Crate training is endorsed by most dog trainers as a way to tap into your dog’s natural “den instinct.” They’re unlikely to soil their den, and although the separation may be stressful initially, it will actually become a comforting place of relaxation. You will also become more relaxed as well. The crate is especially integral when house training. Assuming you’ve crate trained properly, you’ll be able to trust your pup while in their crate. During the crucial housebreaking weeks or months in an apartment, your puppy will probably spend a lot of time here as you teach them to build bladder control and get them on a “going out” schedule. You should obviously not expect too much of your pup, but a good rule of thumb is if your pooch has just relieved herself then they can stay in confinement for as many hours as they are months old; i.e. two months = two hours.