Of all the pets New Yorkers try to keep, not every species is in dire need of training and socialization. Sure, reptiles, birds, and pocket pets have highly specialized requirements, but making sure they get along with others isn’t high on their list of needs. On the other hand, dogs (and some cats to a certain extent), definitely benefit from perfectly orchestrated and friendly introductions to various people, places, sounds, and other animals.
What does that mean for urban pet ownership? A little extra work, preparation and patience, for starters. But it’s worth it!
A Perfect Match
Successful urban pet ownership happens when owners are matched with the right animals. A pet’s species, breed, size, and lifestyle characteristics are critically important. It’s not impossible to care for a dog in the big city, but careful consideration of their daily needs is a must.
Keys to Socialization
Young pups as early as two months old can begin making positive connections in and around their environment. When they experience a diverse set of places, people, animals, traffic noises, smells, and situations, they will face fewer behavioral challenges as they age. Instead they will appear happy, friendly, calm, and balanced.
Despite the various disruptions of city life, socialized pets are well-adjusted and supported.
Caring Is Sharing
Without reassurances and encouragement, dogs can easily develop phobias or other behavioral issues that surface at home and in public places (typically when you least suspect it). Inappropriate or even dangerous behaviors can often be directly linked to incomplete or inadequate socialization.
Skills For All Ages
While puppies need the most help regarding their environment and behavior, dogs of all ages benefit from ongoing support. Finding opportunities for adults and even senior dogs to learn new things is essential for their mental health.
Successful Urban Pet Ownership
Many dogs show resistance to certain stimuli, such as sirens, honking horns, shouting, crowds, big trucks, and more. The key to getting them through any upset is to provide comfort and specific ways to cope. Dogs can learn through rewards, praise and reassurance. They also take cues from their owners. If you remain neutral, they will, too.
Give your dog many possible opportunities to learn from their environment, and from external stimuli. The more they know, the better off they’ll be! Take them to a play park or doggie day care to interact with many different dogs, and watch as they settle in for a peaceful night at home afterwards.
Up to You
Meaningful urban pet ownership is accomplished when owners set examples for their pets. Without a positive introduction, dogs draw their own conclusions based on previously experienced fear or uncertainty.
It’s important that your dog is comfortable encountering:
- Other pets and wild animals, like squirrels or birds
- Adults of all shapes and sizes (many dogs don’t like a certain gender, or act suspicious near strangers with hats, sunglasses, or disguises)
- Crowds (including costume parades, floats, balloons, fireworks, loud music, and more)
- Cars, bikes, skateboards, scooters, trucks, trains, boats, and all other modes of transportation
- Anything that pops up (some troubling reactions may surface well after adoption)
Remember, if you ever have questions or concerns about urban pet ownership or canine behavior, your friends at Animal Kind Veterinary Hospital are always here for you.