5 things that make having a dog in the city different than the suburbs

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So what’s the big deal about having a dog in New York City? Here are 5 considerations:

  • central park dogs 2No yards: Most of us don’t have a backyard in New York City, so dogs only go outside when we take them outside. That means we have to make time to take them out to go to the bathroom, play or socialize. We need to know the good walks, the closest dog runs, and where we can and can’t take them. It makes house-training a bit more work when you can’t just open door and let a dog out when it needs to. When we are home, it also means we are in close contact with our dogs. Much closer than if they had a day in the yard only to come back for dinner. So we end up knowing more about them, and they about us. They are likely aware of all of your movements in the apartment, your schedule, your routine, and cues that its time to eat or go outside. We also notice more about our dogs by being in such close contact. You get a sense of their personalities, when they are happy, depressed, bored, or tired. When we are away, it means they are alone. Maybe they can hear people in the hallway or the adjacent unit, but otherwise they wait, and sleep. They are social creatures and likely are very excited when you are back.
  • No cars: Most of us in New York City also don’t have cars. This means that we need to find other ways of transporting our dogs, be it walking, taking a taxi, or even the subway. It also means we have to find better ways to get 30 pound bags of dog food home (thank you online pet stores!). Even getting a sick or injured dog to the vet can be tricky without a car.
  • No space: Let’s face it- we have a lot less space in New York City compared to other places. A lot of us our in studio or 1-2 bedroom apartments and it’s close quarters to add a dog into the mix. That well-placed dog bed and a few strategic dog toys can go along way to letting the dogs feel at home. They don’t ask for too much. But we do need to make time to get them outside. We also don’t likely have some sort of lesser room with furniture that is dog friendly. So we have to protect our stuff- our clothes, our shoes, our rugs, our furniture – from our dog’s accidental destruction.
  • crowded nyc streetCrowds: In New York City your dog is going to have a lot of exposure to other people and dogs. They don’t just go from the yard to the car to some destination and back by car with few contacts with others like they do in suburbs. So you have to have them well trained to deal with people and dogs walking past them. This includes a lot of things that set dogs off, like kids, skateboards, wheelchairs, people bundled in winter clothes and hats, people in uniforms, homeless or mentally ill that may smell or behave differently, and then of course other dogs, some of which may not may spay or neutered, and who may set off alarms with a look or smell. And then of course there are cars, and lots of them. Proper training and socialization can keep a dog by your side and not in a dangerous situation.
  • Expensive: Having a dog in new york City is expensive. If you are at work and need daycare (~$30/day) or a dog walk (~$15-20/walk) every day, it is going to add up. And somehow Veterinarian bills are oftentimes more expensive than your own doctor bills. Most pet insurance won’t cover routine visits. If you go away without your dog, overnight boarding can run $50-90. Plus training is typically $100/hour for private sessions, or a couple hundred dollars for multiple group sessions.


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