How to Move to New York City with a Dog
New York City is more dog friendly than you might think. Dogs are everywhere and the dog amenities rival those for humans. But you won't find a dog mom more stressed than I was about moving my two not-so-well-behaved dogs to the concrete jungle. The transition was challenging for Eloise, Lou Lou, and I, but if I can move to New York City with my two pups, you'll be totally fine. Here's how my pups and I made life easier during our first few months as New York City residents.
Find an Apartment with a Welcoming Pet Policy
When I was New York City apartment hunting, I wanted my dogs to be welcomed, not just allowed.
My dogs were (are) poorly behaved in comparison to other dogs in the city. We deal with leash reactive tendencies (lunging at other dogs and people on walks), separation anxiety with excessive barking, and a general fear of new people and unknown places. If my management company had to meet my dogs before move-in, I guarantee we would've been rejected. As a responsible dog owner, I know how to manage their unfavorable behaviors so my neighbors aren't inconvenienced (read about the anxiety treatments below), but I knew the adjustment period required some leniency while we settled into city life.
I was so thankful to find Equity Management. This management company has a very laid back pet policy, with a three animal limit per unit and no pet fee. I provided names, breed information, and ages -- that's it. No dog assessment, no meeting, nothing to get me or the dogs stressed about the process. You might assume that a liberal pet policy could lead to rough living quarters and obnoxious neighbor dogs, but that's not the case. I live in a high end, full-time doorman, luxury amenity building with dogs everywhere. Other than the occasional pup impatiently barking as he waits for the elevator or the rare puppy accident in the lobby (which the staff understands and forgives), the dogs are just as lovely tenants as their human counterparts.
Equity Residential has buildings all over the city with a similar pet policy. If you have a dog and are moving to the city, I recommend starting with their units. Plus, no fee rentals!
Give Your Pup Time to Adjust with You
I gave myself and my pups three whole days without leaving them completely alone in our new apartment. Eloise suffers from terrible separation anxiety, so she needed to see that this foreign space was her new home and all of her toys were here to stay. Be sure to establish some familiar places in the new space. I placed the dog beds next to the same furniture as our condo in Portland. I gave the dogs each a piece of dirty laundry to snuggle so our scent was everywhere.
Research Dog Walking & Boarding Options Near You
Next to finding an apartment, finding a boarding option for the girls was the second most stressful task. To be honest, I still haven't found something I love or trust. Although our building has a dog day care on the first floor, I got a weird vibe from the place. I'm still interviewing potential dog sitters through services like Rover and MixyPaws. I prefer personal in-home care for the dogs, especially with their anxiety levels, and the one-on-one care I've researched so far is actually more affordable than the boarding facilities.
Anxiety Treatments Make a Big Difference
Sometimes behavioral intervention just isn't enough. As much as I wanted to train Eloise out of her anxiety habits, I knew she was hardwired this way from day one. I worked with my vet in Maine to start an anxiety treatment plan before we even made the trek from Portland to Manhattan. Eloise's anxiety response includes heavy panting, barking, scratching, pacing, and peeing. Beyond the nuisance it could cause to neighbors, the more concerning part for me is the harm she causes herself while anxious. The poor pup has scratched her paws until she had oozy sores on the pads of her feet.
My vet and I decided that the best method of treatment was a medication called Trazodone. This medication helped me introduce Eloise to the new apartment and new city life by softening her anxiety response. I've since weaned Eloise off the pills because I don't like the idea of long-term medication for a young dog, but I know the medicine was a key component to a successful Maine-to-Manhattan transition.
On days when I can see Eloise falling into an anxious cycle, I use an all-natural product called King Kalm CBD. The phytocannabinoid rich oil is a wellness supplement that eases Eloise's anxiety response without pharmaceuticals. As always, have a conversation with your vet if you believe your pet could benefit from anxiety treatment, natural or otherwise.
Learn to Poop on the Sidewalk
The first week of walks included lots of rule breaking on my part. Dogs are rarely allowed on grassy areas in the city and those Parks Department officials would make Leslie Knope proud with their rule enforcement. We transitioned to pooping properly on the sidewalks thanks to two things. First, we moved in the winter, so we had a good coating of snow on the sidewalks. Snow is as good as grass according to my dogs. Second, short leash and long walks. Regardless of season, you can use a short leash and a long walk to train your dog to poop where appropriate. On a short leash, your dog can't stray to any nearby grassy areas. On a long walk, your pup will go if she can't hold it anymore. Reward a successful sidewalk poop with a special treat. Believe me, if my dogs can figure it out, your dog will, too.
Invest in Essential Dog Fashion Items
I've always been against dog footwear and dog wardrobes... Until I moved to the city. The salt on the sidewalks here is unlike anything I ever saw in Maine. No one uses dog-friendly sand to create traction on the ice. It's all industrial strength ice melt and it is everywhere with the first flake of a storm. Dog boots are an actual necessity, as is an insulated waterproof jacket for longer walks in the elements.