It’s tempting to think about the quintessential British dog out enjoying the beautiful UK countryside, with green-wellied owner in tow. Of course, many of our dogs do live the perfect country life, ‘hunting, shootin’ and fishin’ (aka, sniffing for squirrels, running in the woods and wallowing in muddy puddles). However, at least as many live in towns or cities, and it’s time that we celebrated the fact. Dogs in towns and cities can live perfectly happily – indeed, there are even some advantages in terms of socialisation opportunities, but they do need to be socialised and trained with the urban environment in mind.
Living in a town or city can be a challenge for humans, let alone dogs. The sheer proximity of other people, other dogs, close neighbours and a lack of space can increase stress and pressure for both species, and this can lead to tensions between dog owners and non-dog owners in the same community. Sadly, the presence of a small but dangerous minority who use their dogs to boost their own sense of control or domination can also form images of dogs in cities as being threatening, but this is far from the whole story. (You can watch my online seminar “Signals of Pre-Emptive Aggression” for free by adding your details here.)
If you live in a town or city and have recently got a puppy, there’s not a minute to waste. While walking in a concrete jungle may not be as soothing as a stroll in the country, the need to get your puppy out and about and to expose him or her to every possible sight, sound, smell and touch that he is going to need to cope with is paramount. Just think about how the world must appear to your puppy. The streets are not paved with gold, but litter, feet and the oncoming wheels of pushchairs. Your puppy is likely to have to deal with aspects of life that a country dog may never experience. Just think about the chances that he will need to ride in a lift, go on a bus or train, or be walked next to schools or places where groups of children will be congregated. Building work, street repairs and air brakes are all on your puppy’s exposure check list – because missing out on seeing these things now will mean potential stress, anxiety and fear later on.
With this in mind, it can be viewed that there are some major advantages with raising and living with your dog in an urban environment – providing you put in all the possible socialisation and training strategies that will make your lives easier. Basics – such as house training – can seem daunting if you live in a flat or an apartment with no garden, but just think of all the socialisation opportunities that your puppy will have by being taken out every couple of hours. This may take more effort from you, but will inevitably mean that he will meet far more people and will experience far more of the world around him than a pup which is simply let into the back garden when he needs to go out.