Is your dog a confirmed country dweller? How do you think he’d feel about moving his basket, bowl and biscuits into the city? For many dogs, life in the country is about as good as it gets. Acres of space to run around, no fences, no leads – plenty of wildlife to chase and the freedom to just take a walk any time they feel like it. Contrast that with the life of a city pooch who’s got a whole different set of rules to live by.
So, what happens when a country dog has to follow its beloved owner into the city of London?After the relative tranquillity of the country, how can a canine successfully make the transition to London living? Read on for tips…
Adjust Habits in Advance
If possible, make changes to your dog’s toilet habits prior to moving. In the country, it’s quite likely he is an independent soul and just gets on with doing his daily business. Living in the city in an apartment with no outside space, things will be drastically different. To avoid unfortunate mishaps once installed at your new residence, get your dog into a regular routine for toilet breaks.
Where to go
Just opening the door and letting the dog out is not an option in London. However, there are many dog friendly places to exercise your pooch. With green spaces spread across the capital, there’s always somewhere close to let dogs off a lead. Get his tail wagging with a visit to North London’s fabulous Hampstead Heath with its wild woods, ponds and trails. Also in North London, Primrose Hill offers dog walkers a central and pretty place to walk with great views over the city. To the south west, Richmond Park offers wide open spaces and Battersea Park gives good value to dogs that like a bit of squirrelling. To the east try the leafy loveliness of Victoria Park in Hackney, in south east London the long vistas offered by Blackheath will encourage any dog to run all day and in Barnes, you can trot along the Thames tow path, stopping off at the pretty pubs along route for refreshments.
If your country dog likes to gallop for miles, consider cycling or roller-blading with them, to make sure they get enough, vigorous exercise. If you want your dog exercising whilst you are at work, try using a dog walking or doggie-daycare service. For canines not used to being left alone in unfamiliar surroundings, this can be a lifesaver. Some dog care providers offer a complete service that includes walks, feeding, grooming, pick up and drop offs and if you want to have your dogs boarding London has places that accept overnight stays as well. A country dog that is unaccustomed to being around other dogs, may benefit from the socialisation of exercising with other breeds and if you choose to regularly have your dogs boarding London may suddenly seem like an exciting place compared to the quiet countryside.
Taking Things Slowly
The sights, smells and sounds of the city will be bewildering for your dog at first. It is important not to leave him alone too soon or he could develop separation anxiety. This often shows itself with behaviour such as chewing, soiling or constant howling. The sounds of an apartment building, voices, doors slamming, elevators creaking – can be alarming for a nervous dog. Leaving a radio playing softly may ease their anxiety and drown out some of the disturbing sounds.
Take time to walk the dog slowly around the apartment building and local area, familiarising him with his new territory. In time, he will come to view the neighbourhood as his new patch, but be patient. Fast traffic, flashing lights, cars backfiring, police sirens, crowds of people and the general noise and chaos of city life will overload his senses and he may just want to crawl back into his basket and hide.
It may be that he is unused to being on a lead, especially when going to the toilet. Some dogs will refuse to do their business whilst on a lead and need familiarising with the new routines. In London he will have to get used to going to the loo on a lead, and you will have to become practised at scooping it up and disposing of it in a plastic bag.
Moving from the country to the city may be a challenge for your pup at first, but with patience and planning, it needn’t be a disaster. Remember that your lovely, loyal dog is happiest when he is by your side, and if that means becoming a city dog, then so be it.