Meet Bodie. Bodie is a 2 year old Cavapoo who is happiest while on long walks, loves running into friends both of the dog and human variety, does tricks on command, and enjoys a spoonful of peanut butter pretty much anywhere, at anytime. Bodie also happens to be a city dog living in Boston and he’s darn good at it. Living in a city can be tough, especially as a dog – space is limited, off-leash playtime requires a trip to the park, and dogs (and their owners) are often subject to behavior-based judgment from complete strangers on the street.
In my experience, cities breed some of the best-behaved dogs I have been around. Can anyone else recall a time growing up in suburbia when you went to a friend’s house and had their dog begin barking loudly and jumping all over you the moment you walk through the door? Not so cool, right? In a city, where dogs are constantly encountering new people and pets, poor behavior is not only frowned upon, it is simply unacceptable as it limits the public places you can go with your dog, limits the buildings you can live in and makes it hard to make friends with fellow dogs and dog owners in your neighborhood and city.
Whether you and your dog are considering a move to a city or are currently living in a city, I’m sure you are well aware of the challenges that city living poses. Before you make the mistake of bringing your untrained dog to your neighborhood off-leash dog park, read Bodie’s hacks for dogs and dog owners that are new to or used to city living.
Before you head out the door for a long walk or a trip to the dog park be sure to pack up a collapsible water dish and dog waste bags. The only thing worse than being at the dog park on a summer afternoon without any water is finding yourself without any dog waste bags to pick up after your dog. If it gets cold, icy and/or snowy in the winter where you live, be prepared to protect your dog’s paws from abrasive ice- and salt-laden sidewalks and streets with a pair of dog booties (they even make disposable rubber ones that are good for several uses!).
Invest in Training and Socialization
Don’t be shy when it comes to seeking out behavior and socialization classes for your dog. No dog comes into this world perfectly well behaved and you have nothing to lose and everything to gain from investing in socialization and behavior troubleshooting classes. Some dog training facilities like the Urban Hound in Boston’s South End neighborhood even offer free or reduced cost training and socialization events for dogs and their owners that arm you with tips and tricks to practice on your own with your dog. Once your dog becomes more comfortable interacting with other dogs and people and with being off-leash the trips to the dog park (and pretty much anywhere) are far more fun!
When walking city streets or spending time at home with your dog it is important to be respectful of the people around you. Keep in mind that not everyone or every dog likes to be approached by an unfamiliar dog so be sure to ask the dog owners you encounter if it is ok if your dog approaches their dog. When at home with your dog be mindful that incessant barking is disruptive to those who live in your building or in neighboring buildings. While it is difficult to keep your dog from barking 100% of the time, positive reinforcement of good behavior, providing entertaining toys for your dog and plenty of exercise can help prevent bouts of barking.
Long walks in the city not only offer a great opportunity for exercise but, if you live in a dog-loving city like Boston, they lend themselves to free treats! Just take a walk down Charles Street in Beacon Hill or Shawmut Ave. in the South End and you will find that many of the of the shops and restaurants offer up free treats to dogs. Treats can also go a long long with reinforcing positive behaviors or teaching tricks (just don’t overdo it with the treats!).
Many thanks to my roommate and Bodie’s mom/owner/best friend, for giving me the opportunity to have Bodie as a 3rd roommate!