The Dog Daily: Travel
City Dog, Country Dog
By Elizabeth Wasserman for The Dog Daily
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.