URBAN DOGS – UBER AWESOME!
MY FIRST DOZEN-PLUS DOGS, and myself, were born and raised in the rural Midwest. That all changed in 1990 when I moved to downtown Milwaukee. I am a dog trainer by profession* and one day made an abrupt, and frighting, decision to kiss the country goodbye. I packed up the dogs and moved to Warren Avenue. Although I was attracted by the city, I was apprehensive about how my dogs, despite being trained and socialized, would acclimate. Would stray dogs endanger them on walks? Would they be unsettled by booming fireworks throughout the festival season? Would the stress of having less opportunity to stretch their legs for a good run induce neurosis?
ALMOST TWO DECADES LATER, it appears my dogs have never been happier. Of course I own less dogs than I did in the country (two at a time, to be precise), but the city provides so much amusement — the parks, the people, the pets, the parades, the outdoor pubs — that in 1992 I moved closer to Wisconsin Avenue.
AS A DOG TRAINER, I am happy I’ve experienced the changes and pleasure of both rural and urban environments and know the keys to idyllic dog ownership in diverse communities. Here’s my advice for city folk:
- Keep your dog on a short leash and walk at a brisk pace until you get to a play or potty area.\
- Don’t let your dog sniff or invade another dog’s space (unless he’s familiar and you have permission). Even when approaching a familiar playmate, teach your dog to wait for an invitation rather than rocketing impulsively to his friend.
- Be cautious when your dog enters or exits your vehicle or the elevator. Keep him on a short leash, get him comfortably out of the traffic pattern, and teach him to sit and to remain in position until released.
- Think barking is your dog’s god-given right? Think again. Barking increases anxiety in your dog and promotes bad neighbor relations. Curb ALL barking on walks and barking indoors when he looks out a window or hears ordinary noise or workman. Not only will your dog be calmer, he’ll become a superior watchdog for those rare occasions you really do need him to take your side.
- Pick-up after your dog. Clean-up after your dog. Scoop the poop. Tote the turds. Dispose of the dumps. It’s P.C. to be responsible for your dog’s feces. If you ignore this, you tarnish every model dog owner’s reputation — and we will seek you out and shame you. Pick-up and be proud!
ALTHOUGH THE OPPORTUNITIES TO SOCIALIZE ABOUND, be respectful. Keep city dogs on short leash when on walks, dining at a sidewalk cafe, passing dogs, people and children, and entering or exiting doorways. Even though this is your beloved dog, it is unrealistic to expect others to share your fondness. To be sure, dog lovers abound in the city. Still, the best way to ensure your pet is accepted, or at least tolerated, in your new community is to showcase good manners — yours and his.
ARE YOUR CITY DOGS having trouble adjusting? Call me to arrange a private in-home session, get puppy, basic, and small dog class information, or DITY with my books and DVDs. Phone/text 414-289-7785 or email [email protected] for details.
*Amy Ammen, dog expert, director of Amiable Dog Training, author of six books including the Everything Puppy Book and the Everything Dog Book, and agent for Able the Dancing Chihuahua.