Dogs that live in the city have a different lifestyle than dogs that live in the country. City dogs see much more traffic, many more humans and many unique dangers and distractions that dogs in rural areas do not and, as such, they need a different set of skills than their country counterparts. The American Kennel Club has even set up a training program to help city dogs master their terrain.
In order to be comfortable and well-adjusted in the city, urban dogs need to know the following things:
How to Stay Calm around Stimuli
City dogs are going to encounter loud, unexpected noises from trucks, construction sites, fender benders and a variety of sirens and alarms. The well-adjusted city dog will understand that the noise is not going to hurt her and will not react to sudden booms, bangs and crashes.
How to Cope With People
When you live in a city, it is not enough to have a dog that is just well socialized. Dogs need to be able to cope with a variety of people. These people may be pushing shopping carts, dragging luggage, wearing costumes, yelling, riding bikes or skateboards, or hula hooping down the road. City dogs need to learn to be non-reactive in these situations.
How to Negotiate Obstacles
There are many obstacles in a city, ranging from unfamiliar surfaces to stairs and elevators and public transit, such as subways and cabs. Urban dogs need to be comfortable enough to follow their pet parents through any of these obstacles and do so calmly and without anxiety or fear.
The Urban Canine Good Citizen Training
These needs are so universal for city dogs that the AKC recently instated a new program – Urban Canine Good Citizen Training. This training teaches dogs the following skills:
Entering/exiting dog-friendly buildings without pulling
Walking through a crowd where people approach the dog in strange outfits
Exposure to noises like sirens and horns as well as moving objects like skateboards, bikes, carts and runners
Exposure to surfaces such as grates, plastic tarps, wet surfaces and concrete
Proper street-crossing protocol (stand and wait at corner, cross street without pulling)
Ignoring food on the sidewalk
Being petted by strangers
Negotiating stairs and elevators
Housetraining for apartments or condos
Negotiating public transit
In order for a dog to complete the training, she must learn and then be tested on each of the above items. Dogs that pass the test receive their official Urban Canine Good Citizen (CGC) title. Search here to find urban canine citizen trainers near you.
The Benefit of the CGC Training
For pet parents who have just moved to a city or recently adopted a new dog, the CGC training is a great way to expose dogs to a variety of city-specific stimuli and skillsets. The training teaches them useful skills and helps them better adapt to their urban lifestyle. In addition to allowing pet parents to have better control over their dogs in an urban environment, this training also helps pets stay safer and experience less anxiety in their city lifestyle.
Content reviewed by a veterinarian