City Apartment Dog

If you live in New York City and want man’s best friend by your side, consider these factors, from type of breed to various types of activities and resources, to keep and maintain a happy and healthy dog,

Life’s not easy for a city dog.

Many New York City metro-area canines find themselves backyard-deprived with less room to roam. Rather than big, lush lawns, they settle instead for sidewalks, the occasional tree, shrub or fire hydrant and only patches of green.

Luckier Lassies live near dog parks like the McCarren Park Dog Run in Williamsburg or parks with dog runs, like popular Astoria Park in Queens or famous Central Park in Manhattan. There, they can finally stretch their legs, mingle with other pooches and spend quality time with their owners, fetching tennis balls.

Country canines can often run free, while city pooches rely on their busy owners’ — or dog walkers’ — schedules for their daily outings, and sometimes, just don’t get as much exercise as they should.

If you live in the bustling city and want man’s best friend at your side, consider these factors to keep and maintain a happy and healthy dog.

Pick a Town Breed

If you find yourself cramped in a third-floor walkup, imagine how Beethoven the St. Bernard feels.

Larger breeds need to run free and probably shouldn’t be kept in small spaces to begin with. It’s a rule that’s regularly ignored by kind-hearted, dog-loving urbanites who routinely adopt breeds that may not be an ideal match for their lifestyle and dwelling choices.

One young Manhattan professional, Isabel, couldn’t resist an Akita pup she found at a local shelter. Before long, Juno grew to 10 times her original size and took up about a third of Isabel’s tiny apartment. She also needed lots of outdoor time and exercise and had a tendency to pounce on critters, like small dogs, cats and squirrels, while dragging Isabel or the dog walker behind her like a Mack truck. It was obvious that city sidewalks were no place for Juno.

Perhaps city folk should just stick with popular “town” breeds, like French Bull Dogs, Yorkies and Pomeranians.

Get Active With Your Dog

Exercise is a cure-all for a variety of behavioral problems in city slicker dogs.

Without a doubt, apartment-dwelling city dogs tend to be happier and seem to function better overall – both physically and psychologically – when they go for long walks, socialize with other dogs, enjoy a lot of playtime and get a hefty dose of TLC.

If going to the gym, playing basketball or jogging outdoors helps you unwind, imagine how happy Rover feels when he’s active and busy and not always cooped up in a small apartment most of the day with nothing to do.

Great indoor exercises include running up and down stairs or using a treadmill (some of which are made just for Fido). And, have you tried a laser pointer? Just point the beam at the floor, move it around and let your dog chase it.

These days, many veterinarians are using software to track a pet’s Body Condition Score, a blood test that could quickly determine animals’ body-fat percentage, so you’ll know just how healthy your dog is.

Savvy New Yorkers who want to keep their furry companions happy and busy have discovered special places that offer fun activities, including the following:

• Dog parks. Quickly becoming community centers for urban dog owners, dog parks have grown in number by 34 percent in the last five years — that’s almost 600 in the nation’s largest 100 cities.

• Doggie day care. Pick a quality facility that has room for exercise (preferably outdoors) and where the staff is alert to signs of illness. For example, highly ratedThe Wagging Tail provides a great combo of exercise and socialization, including nine hours of romping time in their playground, running and playing with an average of 70 dogs. Then there’s Camp Bow Wow, a 125-location doggy day and night camp franchise. One Manhattan dog owner recommends the convenient, well-run Long Island City location.

• Doga. Canine yoga provides health benefits and creates a unique bonding experience, as participants do basic yoga poses with their dogs. A popular trend in NYC, Melissa Meade manages a Doga program at Bideawee, the leading pet welfare organization serving metropolitan New York. She says their classes “contribute to the wellness of the person and animal.” Classes are free, but there’s a suggested $20 donation.

• Doggie playgroups. Numerous dog-themed Meetups in New York provide a great opportunity for city dogs to play, get exercise and maintain good social skills. It’s also a wonderful platform for their owners to exchange information and help educate one another about breed-specific health problems and preventive care recommendations.

• Dog agility classes. As seen on Animal Planet and ESPN, canine agility classes are a fun, competitive dog sport based on teaching your city dog to crawl through tunnels, walk across a see-saw, jump through hoops and leap over hurdles, while encouraging teamwork and strengthening the close bond between you and your amazing pet.

• Dog swimming. Facilities like Water4Dogs feature pools where dogs can swim for fun, exercize and rehabilitation as they recover from surgery or injury. Owners can even swim with their pets.

City Apartment Dog

August 31, 2015

by Tammy Scileppi