Should I Get A Dog If I Live In The City?

We answer all your questions about bringing man's best friend to the concrete jungle

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It's a discussion that rears its head regularly in the Esquire office: is it possible to own a dog in the city while having a full-time job? And if so, what's the best way to go about it?

To answer this most imperative of questions, we chased some leads and reached out to a group of experts to fetch you the essential tips on owning a pooch in the city.

Choose the right breed 

One of the first things to consider if you want a happy dog in the city is to choose a breed that suits you and your lifestyle. As Nikki Cummins, who works for the Kennel Club, says: "Too often people buy a dog impulsively or choose a breed based on one they have seen on TV or social media." 

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So while you might be enamored by Huskies or Shiba Inus (that Doge meme), working dogs are best left to the countryside. That includes highly strung breeds like Border Collies and Cocker Spaniels. That said, Great Danes and Whippets both make great city dogs due to their sweet temperament and low exercise requirements, along with smaller breeds like French Bulldogs, Pugs and Daschunds.

The Kennel Club runs  an Assured Breeders Scheme that promotes good breeding practice and has plenty of information on buying a puppy from a good home. Finally, Nikki says, "Always ask to see a puppy with its mother, and never, ever buy from a pet shop or puppy farm."

Marlon Brando was a sausage dog kinda guy
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Understand how much time you're going to need

It's easy to underestimate just how much time a new owner needs to dedicate to a puppy in order to establish a strong bond and routine with it. Be sure to take it outside as soon as you wake up, after every meal and every hour or two as well. 

Nikki also recommends new owners to schedule in 'play time' and 'quiet time' throughout the day:  "A puppy needs to learn to settle quietly as well as how to occupy itself with a chew or its toys, otherwise it will become demanding and expect its owner to interact with it all of the time." 

Once a puppy is older and toilet trained it can be left for gradually longer periods of time, and when fully grown they can be left for up to four hours. Any longer than this, though, and you run the risk of them becoming bored and destructive; habits that can easily stick.

Prepare your dog for the city

An important factor when starting out with a puppy is to allow it plenty of opportunity to socialise with other young and adult dogs, but if you're living in a big city there are other things to consider. 

Nikki says: "Careful exposure to different situations in the environment like traffic, crowds, travelling in the car and any sights and sounds it will have to cope with in life are also vital and often overlooked. 

"It is so important that this is done thoroughly and correctly when a puppy is still young and will happily accept new things." 

Local puppy classes are a good start, while the Kennel Club and Dogs Trust also recommend The Puppy Socialisation Plan.

Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe with their Basset Hound

Consider dog day care

Although offices are becoming more dog-friendly - Kennel Club are campaigning to get more employers to follow suite, you could always consider lobbying your own - the chances are that if you live in a big city like London you're going to be spending time at work and away from your pal, which is where a dog day care fits in.

Tom, an ex police dog handler who now runs the extremely reputable City Pups - a dog walking and day care service in London - has carved a niche by being able to create a service that covers every base of canine care.

"We can turn up to your house, let ourselves in, feed your dog and then take it out for a full day of fun and exercise," Tom says. "We make life as easy as possible for busy owners, if they just want their dog walked in the morning, fine. Or we can spend the entire day with them."

"It's unfair to leave a dog for too long, but if you leave your dog with us or another good day care, you know they're having a laugh with other dogs and being looked after, which is what you want as an owner."

Don't forget about rescues

As you can tell, taking on a puppy is a massive commitment that requires years of time and dedication, which is why a rescue dog that is slightly older can work so well for people with less time on their hands.

Hannah Gee is a team leader over at Battersea Dogs Home and says, "We have so many dogs with us that are perfect for owners who can't or don't want to take on the challenge of a new puppy.

"The benefit of a rescue is that you are giving a second life to a dog, and they are well socialised and toilet trained already, which allows them to fit right into your life."

The positives

Obviously dog ownership requires huge amounts of time, money and dedication - specially when you live in the city. But do it right and you'll be rewarded with a companion that will encourage you to get outside and exercise more, relieves stress  - stroking a dog is proven to increase dopamine and serotonin and reduce blood pressure - while also being a natural wingman who will make you both the centre of attention at the pub (more the dog than you, but whatever).

Plus they won't judge you when you're hungover in your pants.

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