5 min read

7 Simple Tips for City Living with a Dog


Written by Mel Lee-Smith

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 11/03/2020, edited: 10/26/2022

Raising a dog in a big city is very different to being a pet parent in the suburbs or in a rural area. When you live in the heart of a major metropolitan area like New York or Chicago, you need to help your pup adapt to a life of noisy traffic, crowded sidewalks, and high-rise living.

The good news is that it’s entirely possible for dogs to thrive and enjoy happy, healthy lives in the big city. To help you create the “pawfect” city lifestyle for your pooch, check out our 7 simple tips for city living with a dog.

Choose a breed that does well in apartments 

If you’re going to enjoy harmonious city living with your fur-baby, you’ll need to choose a breed suited to life in an apartment. If you choose a dog that barks all day long, that needs heaps of exercise, or that is just a messy roommate, your chances of success are slim.

Many great apartment dogs are smaller breeds that take up less space, but don’t let that fool you into thinking only pint-sized pooches can live in apartments. Big dogs like Great Danes and Greyhounds can also make wonderful apartment dogs, so do plenty of research before choosing your new family.

Check out our guide to the top 10 dog breeds for apartments to find out more.

Introduce your puppy to city sights, sounds, and smells

The big city can be a scary enough place for people, let alone for our four-legged friends. With masses of people, lots of loud noises, and something happening pretty much everywhere you look, it can be an overwhelming environment for your fur-baby.

That’s why it’s important to help your dog grow accustomed to all the unique aspects of life in the city from as young an age as possible. As part of the socialization process, you’ll need to gently introduce your puppy to things like walking on a crowded sidewalk, the sound of rush hour traffic, riding in elevators, and a whole host of other experiences. 

If you can do that, you’ll go a long way towards helping your pooch feel right at home in the big city.

Don’t skimp on training

When you live in a big city, you deal with lots of people every day. Whether you’re riding in an elevator, walking around the block, or just strolling down the street to get a coffee, your pup could come into close contact with hundreds of people. 

With this in mind, it’s essential that your dog knows the right way to behave around strangers.

That means things like walking politely on a leash, staying calm when meeting new people, and never showing any signs of aggression around strangers or other dogs

Training the basics of social etiquette is a must if your pup is going to survive and thrive in the big city, so make training part of your daily routine.

Solve those potty problems

Now it’s time to deal with the topic that many first-time, big-city pet parents dread: toilet training. While it may be unpleasant, it’s obviously a crucial part of life in an apartment.

Unless you’re lucky enough to have a courtyard where your pup can do their business, you’ll have to sort out an indoor toileting solution. House training pads are a common solution, while some pet parents teach their pups to go in the shower in case of an emergency. 

Just remember to be patient when housetraining your dog. They may not pick it up overnight, but you’ll be surprised just how quickly they can get the hang of it.

Be a good neighbor

If you’re going to live happily with a dog in the city, you’ll need to take care to be a responsible pet parent. You’ll have to:

  • Stop barking. Nothing drives your neighbors mad quite like the sound of a dog yapping all day long. That’s why training your dog to stop barking is a must, as is providing boredom-busting toys and activities to keep them occupied when home alone. Giving your pup plenty of regular exercise will also help keep problem barking to a minimum.

  • Tackle separation anxiety. If your pup suffers from separation anxiety, this problem can lead to a whole lot of noisy and destructive behavior. Get your dog used to the idea of spending time alone from a young age, and make sure they’ve got plenty of toys to keep them occupied when you’re not home.

  • Keep them on a leash. The big city is no place for an off-leash dog, so you’ll need to keep your pup on a leash at all times — except, of course, when you visit a dedicated off-leash dog park.

  • Clean up after them. No matter whether you’re in a common area of your apartment building, out on the sidewalk, or taking a walk in the park, make sure you always clean up after your pooch.

Find a great dog park nearby

Walking your dog is a wonderful way to provide them with essential exercise and mental stimulation. But if you really want to show your pooch a good time, find a local dog park where they can let their hair down.

Dog parks are the “ultimutt” way to get your pup outside, let them soak up the fresh air, and get some exercise. Best of all, it gives them a chance to socialize with other puppers and enjoy some time just being, well, a dog. 

And when you find the ideal park, your pup will want to drag you back there every chance they get. 

Browse our list of dog parks to find a pup playground in your area.

Find a good dog walker

Don’t expect your pooch to just sit happily in your apartment, waiting patiently by the door while you’re gone all day long. Every pup needs exercise and mental stimulation to help them stay happy and healthy, so you’ll need to find ways to entertain them when you’re not at home.

Puzzle toys are great boredom busters to help keep barking and destructive behavior at bay, but one of the best things you can do is find a reliable dog walker who can take your pup out for regular adventures. 

Browse the profiles of dog walkers near you with Wag! to find someone who you think will be the perfect match for your pup. Then while you’re off at work or enjoying the city, your pooch will get all the exercise, attention, and companionship they need.

With a little bit of forward planning and a commitment to being a responsible pet parent, you’ll be able to enjoy safe and fun big-city living with your dog.

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