Urban Dogs: Tips for City Living with Your Dog

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Dog etiquette is important no matter where you live, but in urban areas it’s even more critical. City dog parents face a host of challenges when out with their dogs that require a keen sense of their surroundings, other dogs and other people, at all times.

Here are a few tips for urban dwellers and their pups that will make life in the big city with dogs a little easier and more neighborly.

Let Your Dog Walk in Front

Dog trainer, pet expert and author Nikki Moustaki says while many trainers teach dogs to walk on the owner’s left side at the heel, city dogs learn early that there are lots of goodies on the sidewalk. Moustaki, who specializes in urban dog training, encourages city dog parents to walk their dogs a little in front of them so that they can see if their dog is nibbling something from off of the street — chicken bones, rat poison, wrappers and more can all be tasty treats that you don’t want your dog to have.

Urban Dog Etiquette and Street Sense

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Curb Your Dog

“Curbing” your dog simply means that you should encourage your dog to do his important business at the very edge of the sidewalk. Some people take it to mean that the dog should step off of the curb into the street to find relief, but Moustaki doesn’t recommend straying off the sidewalk because it can be dangerous. “It’s easy to curb your dog,” she says. “Simply make sure that every time your dog has to ‘go,’ you pull him to the curb.” Your dog will learn what to do quickly, she adds. “Dogs are creatures of habit.”

Always Scoop the Poop

It’s unsanitary and just plain rude to leave your dog’s poop on the sidewalk. Plus, certain parasites and diseases, like hookworm and roundworms, can be transmittable through feces. And come on, who wants to step in a mess like that?

Realize Not All Dogs Are Friendly

All pet guardians, not just those who live in a city, need to recognize that not all dogs you meet are friendly says Moustaki. “It’s important to ask before allowing your dog to bum-rush another dog,” she advises. And, if your dog isn’t particularly friendly, Moustaki recommends using a yellow leash or putting a prominent yellow ribbon on the leash (or both), which is an initiative by the Yellow Dog Project that’s catching on as the universal sign for “my dog isn’t that friendly.”

Teach Your Dog Basic Commands

According to the ASPCA, the well-trained city dog needs to respond to a minimum of four basic commands: “Sit-Stay,” “Heel,” “Leave it” and “Come.” Moustaki also urges her clients to pay particular attention to ensuring his or her dogs sit when the dog walker stops. “You might be stopping at the curb to cross a busy avenue, or stopping to talk to a friend. Either way, your dog’s rear end should be on the ground,” she says.

As a city dog guardian, being aware and courteous during all activities with your dog will go a long way in ensuring a positive urban living experience with your best furry bud.

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