Millennials are buying suburban houses to please their pets. But does the change in lifestyle really benefit their dogs? Probably not. Here’s why city dogs may be happier.
According to a recent report in Time, millennials are leaving cities to buy homes in the suburbs because of their dogs. There’s a perceived benefit to larger homes and big yards. But the benefit may be more about convenience for the humans than happiness for the dogs. We have kept dogs in rural, suburban, and city environments. Here are four reasons we think our dogs are happier in the city.
1. The walkies
Walks are the number one reason city dogs may be happier. As apartment dwellers, we spend more time walking our dogs each day than we ever did in the suburbs. This means not only more exercise for all of us, but more time spent interacting with our dogs. Walkies are mandatory, and the dogs allow no procrastination. In addition to quick trips down to the dog park for sanitary purposes and play, we also make several long walks around the city each week.
Although suburban areas may boast more dedicated walking trails, neighborhoods within cities are often better connected by sidewalks and other pedestrian ways. From our front door, we can walk for miles in almost any direction and never leave the sidewalk. Public green spaces and dog parks are concentrated into a smaller area and are more accessible by foot in urban areas. Unlike the suburbs, cities offer diverse sights and experiences for both pets and people.
Dogs walked in crowded urban spaces often require more training and better leash skills than their suburban counterparts. Dogs enjoy learning and need to be challenged throughout their lives. Daily walks provide a time for reinforcing leash training and building a stronger human/dog bond.
2. The dog-friendly spaces
There are more dog-friendly public spaces within walking distance in the city. City dogs enjoy spending more time with their parents on the patio at local coffee shops, bars, and restaurants. Most dog-friendly eateries offer fresh water for pets, and many provide treats for their canine patrons, too.
3. The socialization
City dogs get more socialization opportunities than suburban dogs. Dog parks are increasingly offered as an amenity in rental communities. We are among the growing number of renters with access to a private dog park. As a result, our dogs interact with other dogs every day. And because city dwellers generally have smaller homes and must be more conscious about separation-related behavior issues, city dogs are more likely to go to day care when their parents are away.
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4. The tribe
Most city dogs end up with their own tribe of ardent fans. Our dog Wesley is a crowd pleaser wherever he goes, and he thrives on the attention. It’s safe to say that social dogs like Wesley get a lot of pleasure from interacting with a variety of people. When handled appropriately, the increased exposure to many different people can help shy dogs become more tolerant and confident.
Does a Yard Really Make a Dog Happier?
The biggest downside for the city dweller is not having access to a yard. Having a yard is undeniably much more convenient for dog parents. There’s no need to rush outside with the dog in freezing weather or rain, and walks can be scheduled at the parent’s convenience, instead of through necessity. However, the benefit of a yard to dogs is not as clear.
Having a yard means that a dog can go outside more frequently during the day. Going outside more frequently doesn’t necessarily mean that a dog will get more beneficial exercise, especially if his owners forego regular walks. Remember that dogs left to their own devices spend only about five minutes a day running and 68 minutes a day walking. The majority of your dog’s day is spent sleeping or resting (about 19.4 hours), whether inside or out.
Giving a dog unsupervised access to a yard may lead to some unpleasant surprises. The dog may dig or bark at passersby. Even worse, the dog may get out of the yard and wander off. Although there isn’t good data available, it seems more likely that a dog let out into the yard is more likely to escape than a city dog that is walked on a leash.
Your dog can be happy whether you choose to live in the city or in the suburbs. It’s a mistake to think that suburban life on its own, will make your dog happier. What is important is that you spend quality time with your dog every day.
What do you think? Are you looking to move out of the city? Are you living in the city and loving it? Or are you and your dog sitting pretty in a suburban home? Comment below to share your story.