City Dog, Country Dog

By Elizabeth Wasserman

City Dog, Country Dog

Andrea Linne's 18-month-old miniature French poodle, Charlie, is accustomed to taking walks on a leash through the New York City streets and to life in an apartment building. During a recent trip to the country, however, this city dog enjoyed running free in a fenced-in yard and walking along the beach. "You can't do that in Central Park," Linne says.

But she made sure to protect Charlie against some of the hazards of country life for dogs. She sprayed him with tick repellant. She also frequently checked his coat for fleas and burrs.

Linne knows that the environment in which Charlie and all other dogs are raised can have a profound sense on the pet's temperament, preferences, and tolerance of such things as loud noises and other animals. A city dog may be used to meeting other canines at a public dog park or run. A country dog may know to avoid eating dangerous plants, like mushrooms, or downing too much grass. But dog owners should be aware that there are factors to consider if you plan to move a dog out of one environment and into another environment, even for a visit.

A country dog in the city
Families that live in rural areas -- or even suburbia -- may be surprised by their pet's reactions on a trip to the big city. Lisa Peterson, director of club communications for the American Kennel Club, lives in rural Connecticut and has three Norwegian Elkhounds, which she sometimes takes into the city. "My dogs will absolutely not go to the bathroom on concrete," Peterson says. "The surface on which you train your dog to be housebroken really has a profound effect on the animal." City dogs are sometimes housebroken in a litter box or are used to being walked along the street five times per day. That is a very different ritual than a dog that simply goes out the back door to relieve itself.

Country dogs may not be accustomed to trucks, car horns or other loud noises. Dogs raised alone in the country may be in for a rude awakening if they are taken to a dog park or run with lots of other animals. They may also not know what to make of pigeons and elevators.

A city dog in the country
While city dogs may delight in being able to run around in a fenced-in country yard, they may not take kindly to being left outside for long stretches of time away from their human companions. City dogs probably spend more time with their owners than country dogs, as they are often walked or exercised several times per day, Peterson says. Country dogs need exercise, too, but they are also more used to spending time outside by themselves.

There are also country hazards for city canines. They may need to be monitored out in the yard to make sure they don't eat dirt, too much grass or any harmful plants and fungi. Fleas and especially ticks are often more numerous in the country than in the city. Before taking your pet to the country to live -- or even for a visit -- make sure you have the proper preventative medicines. Tick-borne illnesses, such as Lyme disease, can be prevalent in the country. As for Linne, pet owners need to check their dog's coats daily for ticks, since health dangers are less likely if the tick is removed within the first 24 hours, Peterson says.

Raising a dog that can go anywhere
If you want to be able to take your dog with you nearly wherever you go, you may want to sensitize your pet to both city and country lifestyles. For a city dog that may travel to the country, take steps to housebreak it on grass in addition to street surfaces. For a country dog used to having the run of a yard, socialize it with other dogs and people. For example, bring it to the post office, the shopping mall, and parks. Even if you have an invisible fence or acres of land, leash training is also a must for country dogs that might one day visit the city.

In the end, city dogs may have a leg up on transitioning to the country over country dogs that go to the city. "City dogs are raised with a lot more distractions and noise. It makes them overall more used to new situations," Peterson says. "Dogs raised in the country may be used to quiet. They may not have a lot of visitors. If you put them in a noisier place, they may not handle it very well."

Elizabeth Wasserman, a Washington, D.C., area-based freelancer, has been writing about pets, among other topics, for more than 15 years. Her love of dogs, in particular, was handed down through the generations from her great-grandfather, Eric Knight, who wrote the book Lassie Come Home in the 1930s.

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Posted on April 21, 2008

julie says: is it bad for a dog to eat acorns?

Posted on November 16, 2007

Terri says: My dogs are country dogs, but my husband and I are from suburbia, it is hard for us to break out of that mold. The dogs just love to run, run, run! and we worry about them running in other pastures, etc. Most people where we live don't care and the dogs run wherever.

Posted on February 19, 2008

Granny says: I adooped a young coc-a-poo(11 months)from the pound. The previous owners said she barked to much and woke up there kids from naps.(we have to make her bark) I live in the country and I am sure she was raised in the city. she must of had a fenced in yard beacause she does not walk well on a leash. she will not go outside without me. I walk her on a leash and let her run. she never goes to far and always comes back when I call her. I always have to take her to her pee-pee spot and make her pee and poo before I take her in or she will go in the house.(although she hasn't had an acident for several days now I've been on my toes) My big problem is she loves to trail animals; deer, rabbits, oposumes, ect, but what she wants is to eat there poo she will even eat her own. She also eats acorns, bark and even picks up rocks. I am afraid if she continues not to go outsied by her self to go to the bathroom and if she does not quit eating Poo I will have to get rid of her. I sure do not want to do this. Granny

Posted on November 12, 2007

Crise Billwalk says: Although country dogs may not handle very different situations very well, they are in an environment without car pollution or alot of any kind of pollution. A dog raised in the country just MIGHT do better if it stays in the country.

Posted on November 1, 2007

GABRIELE says: WE OWN A GERMAN WIREHAIR POINTER, 8 MO OLD PUP, SHE WAS BORN AND RAISED IN THE CITY BUT NOW WITH US (NEW OWNERS) SHE IS ALSO A WEEKEND COUNTRY DOG!!! SHE LOVES THE HECK OUT OF BOTH SITUATIONS, DOGS ARE VERY SMART AND REACT GREAT TO ANY SITUATION GIVEN THE FACT THAT THE OWNERS SPEND QUALITY TIME WITH THEM - JUST LIKE YOU WOULD WITH A CHILD!! BY THE WAY I LOVE THE ABOVE ARTICLE

Posted on February 9, 2012

Stela says: My hbasund and I have a 3-year-old beagle mix who is incredibly well-behaved . . . in the house. We’ve trained him using a “quiet” command, which works almost all the time. When it doesn’t–and this is usually when he’s sitting by the sliding glass door, watching squirrels and the one rabbit that just won’t go somewhere else–we block access to the door. He’s learning that if he barks while at the door, he doesn’t get to look outside. Our main trouble comes when we walk him, because there’s no stopping the squirrels from running across our path or along the fence (which I swear they do to torment him). Getting him to calm down and be quiet after that is next to impossible, though we try. He’s heavily food motivated, but in those situations, he just doesn’t seem to care about treats. I’ve also tried getting him to sit until he’s calm and just making him move away from where he spotted the squirrel. We’re still trying to find a solution that works consistently. It’s so frustrating sometimes, especially when he just keeps barking at 6:30 in the morning, but using a shock collar isn’t something we’ve ever considered–and we never would.

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