A Dog Owner’s Guide to Big City Living

I inherited Khyber Pass Express (Khyber, for short) when I began dating a Manhattan dentist and fell madly in love—with that furry, shedding, sweet-as-white-chocolate Siberian Husky. While my significant other was at work, Khyber and I spent sunny days walking around the city, stopping to let him drink from doggie fountains outside of cafes, and, eventually, end up at our favorite dog park on the Upper East Side, Carl Schurz Park.

And then, there were the rainy days when Khyber would have rather been locked in a dungeon than go outside. There were also the days when it was so cold I’d have rather been locked in a dungeon than walk him.

Christina Calzadilla, mom to canine city slicker, Mattie, shares my perspective. While she loves the life having a dog in the city provides, her challenges include enumerable trips up and down elevators – or stairs if you live in a walk-up – and a lack of spontaneity when it comes to travel.

“Even when it is a last minute business trip, it's really hard to find dog care that you can trust and afford,” says Calzadilla, who also cites one of the best reasons to have a dog in the city – a boost to your social life. “Thanks to Mattie, I’ve met so many like-minded dog lovers and while out walking your dog you always end up having conversations that only come to be because of your little guy.”

The years I spent with Khyber taught me a lot about pet ownership. And though my backyard is now filled with palm trees instead of skyscrapers, those lessons learned are still useful today. Here are my top ten tips for thriving with your pet in the shadow of the city.

  1. Verify a building’s pet policy before you write a check for first and last month’s rent.  
  2. Make the dog park your second home. It doubles as a great place to exercise your dog and socialize him to cope with constantly being surrounded by people. 
  3. Don’t hire a dog walker sight unseen. Check references and ask fellow pet owners for referrals. 
  4. Prepare for inconveniences, such as when a dog walker cancels. 
  5. Facilitate a relationship with a professional local kennel or doggie day care. 
  6. Acclimate your pet to inclement weather. A tasty treat like Zuke’s Mini Naturals will go a long way in training him to go potty, rain or shine. 
  7. Keep your dog on his leash unless you’re in a fenced-in dog run and the gate is secure. 
  8. Adjust your dog’s feeding schedule to allow for transit delays after work.  
  9. Purchase a short leash for tight neighborhood walks and a retractable leash for the city’s larger greenways. 
  10. Tag each of your dog’s collars with updated name, phone number and email.

Are you an urban dog owner? How do you and your pooch navigate the concrete jungle?