Much to my surprise, there are skyscraper apartment-dwellers who actually own dogs!Several years ago I needed to go to New York City for business, and while there I visited some friends who lived deep in the heart of the city. I knew they had a dog, a mixed breed named Molly who probably had some Dalmatian in her ancestry somewhere, but I had no idea they lived on the 34th floor of the building. I live in the Southern California suburbs where I can just open the back door to let my dogs go outside. Living on the 34th floor, catching an elevator and getting the dog down all those floors to get outside is just amazing to me. So I asked several dog-owning city dwellers for their best advice regarding living in a city with a dog.
Training is ImportantGranted I'm a dog trainer and biased; I think all dogs need some training, but every dog-owning city dweller I talked to stressed the importance of training. When many people and dogs live in close proximity to each other, social rules are important. A dog who has no self control, doesn't behave himself at home or out in public, and who barks, lunges, and jumps on people is a problem. Training should begin early with puppy classes as soon as the puppy is vaccinated and able to attend. The basic obedience exercises include sit, lie down, stay, come, leave it, and walk nicely on a leash all have applications for city dogs. In addition, teaching the dog that barking is not allowed inside is also important.
Housetraining OptionsBefore visiting Molly and her owners, I had never really thought about housetraining a dog who lived on the 34th floor of a city high rise. Take the elevator to the ground floor and rush outside, I guess, and hope your dog has good control. Especially first thing in the morning. Molly's owners, however, taught Molly to use the shower to relieve herself if she couldn't wait to get outside. Molly can easily get into the shower, the shower is easy to clean and disinfect and by giving Molly this option, accidents in the apartment (especially on the carpet) are eliminated. If Molly's owners are late getting home, if the normal walk schedule is disrupted or if the weather outside is horrid, Molly can use the shower when she needs to relieve herself. The owners of many small dogs use dog housetraining pads. The pads can be placed inside a cat litter box or on top of a sheet of plastic.
Walks and Outside TrainingMany city dogs, however, do not relieve themselves inside at all and instead do so on their walks. After talking to quite a few city dog owners, I found that the average number of walks is four. One first thing in the morning, one at lunch time, one when the owner gets home later in the afternoon and one before bed at night. When relieving themselves outside, the dogs can do so in a grassy area or a park if allowed. Otherwise the dog must relieve himself at the very edge of the sidewalk next to the curb or, if it's safe, in the street next to the curb. It is considered rude (and sometimes even illegal) to let your dog relieve himself in the middle of the sidewalk. Of course, whenever the dog relieves himself, it needs to be picked up and properly disposed of.