Help your dog adjust to life in the city.
Arena, a beautiful German Shepherd, was put up for adoption when she was just ten months old. Her vice? Barking too much when left alone at home. The pup was bought to complete the family, but with both owners out all day, the energetic, young dog found ways to entertain herself. After she had destroyed the sofa and chewed up the plants, barking at passers-by from the balcony seemed a good way to keep busy… till the neighbours complained. Left with little choice, the distraught owners had to re-home the dog on a farm.
Not cut out for a life in the concrete jungle, many dogs in the city, like Arena, either suffer or end up being re-homed. But all stories don’t have to end this way; with a bit of commitment and dedication you can help your dog adjust to an urban life and be a responsible canine citizen. The suggestions given below will help you and your canine live together happily in the city.
- Choose your breed wisely:
Some breeds of dogs fare better in apartments than others. Size, however, isn’t the determining factor. Temperament and energy levels are. Many small breeds like the toy breeds, terriers and beagles have high energy levels and need plenty of exercise and play to keep from getting bored and destructive. On the other hand, some large breeds like the Great Dane, are happy to hang out on the couch for most of the day, as long as they get their daily walks. Vociferous breeds, especially the guarding breeds, like the German Shepherd, Boxer, Dobermann and Rottweiler, and some toy breeds are dogs to avoid unless your neighbours have no problems hearing a dog bark at odd hours or through the day.
- Get physical:
If you can commit time and effort to exercise a dog on a daily basis, socialise and train it, then you can keep virtually any breed of your choice. But if you work all day long and prefer to laze around on weekends, then you’ll want a breed that is content to sleep on your couch all day long rather than gambol in the park. Whatever breed of dog you have or decide to keep, do keep in mind that all dogs need exercise and training. For many, a daily walk is sufficient, for others extensive exercise and training is necessary. Keep in mind that a dog with high energy needs will not just feel cooped up in a small apartment, it will get destructive if left alone for too long or not given a job to do.
Most dogs will be content to sleep through the day, as long as they get a good run or brisk, long walk in the morning and evening. If you cannot give your dog the exercise he needs, you can ask a neighbour, friend or relative to help out by walking your dog for you when you are at work.
- Shh… be quiet!
There are few places where a barking dog is deemed more of a nuisance than in the tight confines of an apartment building. The first step in dealing with the problem is to determine why your dog is barking. If your dog barks all day out of boredom, keeping him well exercised and occupied with a chew toy will reduce the barking. If your dog barks when he hears strange noises, it would help to put on the radio or television, which will drown out the noises. If your dog entertains himself by barking at other dogs and people passing by, from the safe environs of your balcony, then it is best to restrict his access to the balcony or to draw the curtains. Do, however, give him a chew toy to keep him occupied.
- Be good to thy neighbour:
In an ideal world, all your neighbours will love dogs as much as you do. In the realistic world, that does not always happen. If your dog is a nuisance, both of you will be unwelcome in the building. So make sure your dog is clean and well groomed at all times. Train him not to jump on people, urinate in the stairwell or bark at children playing in the compound. Regardless of how wonderful your dog is, there will be people who dislike canines on principle. You may never turn them into animal lovers, but you can get them to appreciate your dog for its well-behaved and good-natured ways.
A city dog’s coat is bound to accumulate grime and dust, which can often lead to skin irritation and disease. Groom your dog daily and bathe it regularly to keep the coat clean and the doggy odour at bay.
To make dog ownership work in an urban setting, an owner must commit the necessary time to care for his pet. The size of your home really doesn’t matter. You and your pooch can live happily anywhere.