PHOENIX , AZ AREA: (602) 708-4531
OR, if you are out of this area, inquire about a telephone or e-Lesson
Email: [email protected]
Do you own a “city dog”? In other words, do you live in a typical suburban or urban area with your dog? If so, then this article is for you. That’s because most modern dogs have not been bred for city living. The pressures of living in close quarters with people and other animals is overly stressing our dogs.
Just a hundred years ago… which is not very far off in terms of genetics… most dogs lived in rural areas. The typical home would be more like what you’d find in the outskirts of most cities, the unincorporated areas, with 10 acres of land, a couple of horses, a farm cat, chickens, no automobile, and such. Fast forward to today, we live in little boxes, crowded little boxes with walls and noise, pollution and unnatural smells, stress and crime, and nothing even resembling nature around us. And we have created the city dog: a very stressed dog trying to cope with our unnatural lifestyles.
In the old days, when you were looking to get a dog, you’d find a dog that fit your needs, you’d train it to do some task, and you might have a couple of behavioral problems. Today, people get a city dog that fits their fashion preferences, they don’t train their dogs, and the average dog is very stressed and has many more behavioral problems.
Old timers will say: we don’t remember our dogs having all these problems; we didn’t need to hire a dog behaviorist back then. That’s because life back then wasn’t so stressful for our dogs. That stress is why we see so many aggression problems, separation anxiety, and disobedience. It is also why we are now spending such ridiculous amounts on medical treatments for our city dogs. Our modern lifestyle is harming our dogs.
There are a variety of things we can do to reduce the stresses our city dogs face. First is addressing the way dogs are currently being bred. Pets should only be bred for form and function; to have a home with humans; using modern breeding science; in behaviorally sound manner so as to promote good temperament; to not increase pet homelessness or neglect. But that isn’t what is being done. From the “good” breeders who are breeding clones of dogs from days past, to the backyard breeders who don’t care what kinds of dogs are mated, no real effort is being made to create dogs that can handle urban life. Second, we are designing urban environments that aren’t “dog friendly”. Dogs are banned from being dogs. Dogs are banned from many places. Dogs are subjected to inhumane training, intentionally and unintentionally. Dogs are being fed commercially made fast food for dogs. And people are hostile to allowing dogs to be considered when forming public policy.
We are killing our city dogs with our increasingly urban / technological lifestyles. We are living unnaturally, and so are our dogs. We are also punishing our dogs for behaviors that are really just coping behaviors to address the stresses we are imposing upon them. That is completely unfair to them.
Yes, we can change. Yes there are things you can do, even in an urban environment, to help your city dog cope. We are addressing symptoms when we are treating aggression, anxiety, disobedience, and many medical condition. We need to go at the root of the problem, changing how we live, and how our dogs live.
There are practical things that can be done to help a dog cope with urban life. Hiring a professional dog behaviorist is the first step. A good dog behaviorist can help sort out a healthy lifestyle program for your city dog. I do these kinds of consultations all the time. Your dog probably needs such a consultation. Don’t ignore what’s going on. Do something about it today.
Sam Basso is a professional dog trainer and behaviorist, in the Phoenix/ Scottsdale metropolitan area. He’s known for being fun, kind, intelligent, and humane. Sam Basso has a unique personal touch. He has appeared on his own TV show, been a guest radio expert, gives seminars, publishes a dog related blog, does rescue volunteering, and is active in promoting animal welfare and fair dog laws.