Basics of City Safety
Getting adjusted to city life can take a moment for both your pup. Here are tips from those of us who work with animals in the city on a daily basis. There are more resources below if you're having trouble with particular issues.
Busy cities and sidewalks create obstacles for some pups.
Your Pup's Behavior
Your pup is almost certainly going to encounter other dogs while out in the city. If your dog is aggressive or leash reactive, it is best to consult with a trainer to get some help with their adjustment to city life. A good trainer will be able to help, and it's worth the extra work to keep your dog calmer and safer.
Having the right equipment can go a long ways in keeping your pup safe too. We have additional articles that provide an overview of Basic Dog Equipment and Tips, and our favorite equipment to Stop Dog From Pulling On Leash.
Other Pups' Behavior
Assuming your dog behaves for their walks, you need to also be on the lookout for problems from other dogs. Dog attacks happen, and nearly every time you hear something along the lines of "I can't believe this--she's never done anything like it before."
Managing Introductions To Other Dogs: The most common mistake we see all the time from dog owners is an un-welcomed approach by another dog/handler. If you are going to allow your dog to meet another dog, both you and the other person need to communicate and agree! Some dogs are not friendly and should not be approached, so just walking up to another dog can put you and your dog in danger. You would be surprised how often we see someone backing up from another dog, repeatedly asking that someone not approach, but that person just keeps approaching.
Keep in mind that dogs are unpredictable and exercise caution if you both decide to let your dog say hi. If you're ever unsure, avoid interaction with other dogs. Never feel obligated to say hi to another dog "just to be nice."
Watching For Potential Problems: Watch your dog and the other dog for signs of aggression or unease. This could include growling, snarling, raised hackles, and lunging, among other things. It's also a good idea to approach corners with caution since you won't be able to see if another dog is coming.
Puppy Concerns: If you have a puppy, there are several good reasons to limit contact on walks. If your pup isn't fully vaccinated, he or she may be at a higher risk of contracting something from another dog. Also, some dogs have a strong prey drive, which can lead to some aggression towards puppies. While most dogs will interact with puppies without incident, it's important to be aware of this and avoid situations that could become dangerous.
Dog parks are one of the few places you can go in the city to let your pup run with some more freedom. Unfortunately, there are occasionally dog fights that need to be broken up, and even though it's rare, some of these can be serious.
Dog parks are fun places for exercise and socialization!
Here are some tips to keep things safe while your pup gets some exercise and playtime.
Follow the park rules.
Know your pup and don't push them beyond their limits. If you start to wonder if it's time to go, it's best to leave because your pup has probably had enough.
If tension starts to build at the park or another dog is causing problems, it's usually best to just leave and come back another time. Your priority should be to keep your dog safe.
We have more tips in our Dog Parks 101 article.
Of course weather can be a concern everywhere, but in the city it has a greater impact on your daily life since you tend to be out in it more--from daily walks to time for exercise,
Snow, rain, and heat all present special concerns in cities.
Ice melt chemicals are not regular salt and can cause severe burns to your dog's paws. Businesses tend to apply a lot of ice melt chemicals. While this is generally referred to as “salt”, it's important to note that it's usually potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, or another chemical that can cause severe skin irritation and chemically “burn” your pup’s paws. Some dogs are more sensitive to these ice melting chemicals than others, and repeated exposure can make it worse. Also, if you ever get this on your glove and accidentally wipe your nose with it, you'll have a greater appreciation for just how bad this can be!
What can you do? Booties or wax, such as Mushers Wax, can be helpful since they provide some protection. It’s also a good idea to rinse or wipe their paws off after walks too.
Much like dog's paws are sensitive to cold, they can be hurt by heat. Sidewalks tend to heat up to dangerous degrees during the summer, and black asphalt temperatures can even exceed 160. It’s best to avoid asphalt as much as possible, but barring that, booties are useful in these extreme temperatures, as well.
Additionally, heat can dehydrate dogs or lead to heat exhaustion the same way it does in people. This danger is often underestimated. Having a portable water bottle on hand keeps your pup from getting dehydrated in the sweltering city, and seeking out shade or cooler areas is a good idea on hot days.
Common City Hazards
Aside from other dogs, cities tend to come with plenty of other things you need to watch out for. Common dangerous items include broken glass, construction materials, and food scraps (particularly chicken bones). Being mindful of these dangers is most of the battle, since you can keep your pup away from them. For a complete list of tips on keeping your dog safe during outings, check out our article on City Safety Tips, coming soon!