Urban Dog Etiquette: Living with Dogs in a Metropolitan Area

July 31, 2014

urban rodriguezBy Langley Cornwell

My cousin and her family live in New York City with a completely spoiled Lab; they are crazy about their dog and treat her like a third child. The dog gets the best of everything including her own bedroom, visits to the doggie spa and premium quality CANIDAE Grain Free PURE dog food. Having always lived in a more suburban area, I couldn’t imagine how they properly managed life with a large dog in the heart of the Big Apple. However, if you’ve ever spent time in congested urban areas, you know that tight living space does not lessen the desire for canine companionship. So my cousin, and many others, meets the challenges of living with dogs in highly populated areas with grace and smarts. Here are some basic etiquette rules they follow.

Reinforce Basic Commands

At a minimum, city dogs must follow a number of basic commands promptly and precisely in order to get around safely. Of special importance are the come, sit/stay, heel and leave it commands. In a bustling city, there are many distractions that can be hazardous to your dog’s safety if she’s not responsive to commands. Waiting for the stoplight to change is much easier and safer when your pooch is calmly in a sit/stay by your side.

Pets may get nervous when confronted with rambunctious children, loud noises, blaring car horns, etc. The heel and leave it commands are especially helpful in preventing your pet from chasing bicycles, in-line skaters or skateboarders. At any time, you may be thrust into situations that demand swift and thorough control of your dog to prevent problems. A firm grasp of basic commands is necessary for city-dwelling dogs.

Follow the Laws

Leash laws are common but in our area, there are no restrictions on the length or type of leash you use. Some metropolitan areas, however, have leash-length and leash-type restrictions. In high-traffic areas, whether law or not, it is a good idea to keep leashes less urban jasenthan six feet long and avoid retractable leashes. When walking your dog, be polite to fellow pedestrians as well as skaters, cyclists and joggers. Keep your pooch close to your side and insist on good manners.

Respect prohibited areas; they are marked as such for a reason. Some government buildings and high-rise dwellings have green areas where they don’t allow dogs. Avoid those areas. Be mindful of where your dog relieves herself. Escort her to the curb instead of allowing her to use high-traffic sidewalks, and never let her urinate in front of a building entrance. Likewise, be vigilant about scooping and properly disposing of your dog’s waste.

Be Courteous

Surprisingly, some people do not like dogs. Dog-owning city dwellers should be good neighbors and remember that. Discourage your dog from barking, especially indoors. When you’re riding in an elevator, keep your dog in a sit/stay, preferably in a far corner. As you pass through lobbies or other crowded indoor spaces, walk quickly and never allow your dog to jump up on anyone. All in all, it’s good practice to behave as if people don’t like dogs until they tell you otherwise.

If you live in a crowded urban area, you understand the added responsibilities of sharing your life with a dog. When you show respect and consideration for neighbors and dog-friendly business owners, perhaps more businesses and public areas will welcome a well-behaved canine visitor.

Do you have any urban dog etiquette tips?

Top photo by Kevin Rodriguez Ortiz
Bottom photo by Jasen Miller

Read more articles by Langley Cornwell

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