Dog Walking Safety

Just saying the word “walk” probably excites your dog. As a dog owner, walks can be a soothing start and end to your day, but without the proper training walks can become a dreaded chore.

Walking in Chicago

Your dog may encounter dozens of dogs and hundreds of people while walking in busy neighborhoods like River North, the West Loop or Streeterville. While great for your dog’s mental development, it’s a challenge for you. Your pup has places to go and people to sniff. He will want to pull, but pulling increases the risk of a situation where he’ll become aggressive or fearful.

By keeping him at your side, you dog learns that you’re in control of the walk. The best strategy: stop dead in your tracks or turn around the moment he pulls. When you resume walking, feed him a treat if he stays at your side. If he pulls again, stop and walk the opposite way. Why does this work? He learns that pulling gets him nowhere (literally), while walking at your side gets him treats.

What to Avoid

Steer clear of scenarios your dog reacts negatively to. If your dog doesn’t like skateboards or garbage trucks, it’s best to walk the other way. Trying to acclimate your dog to these items, especially in a busy in a city setting, will be ineffective and increase your pup’s stress levels.

Leashes and Locations

Retractable leashes give your dog more freedom to explore, but they’re not great for training. Use a standard leash while you’re still in the training stage of your pup’s life.

Chicago dogs don’t need extra stimulation. The West Loop, River North, and the Loop offer infinite distractions to a puppy in training. Use an empty dog park or quiet space. If it’s too cold outside, the hallway way of your Highrise building is a good spot. Consistent reinforcement is the quickest way to keep your pup at your side. Start early… you’ll be happy you did!

Adapting a Dog to Apartment Life

Most Chicago apartments are cozy. Whether it’s a Husky you’ve always wanted or a low-energy breed… do some research before welcoming a dog into your life.

Consider location.
Location, location, location. Keeping pet-friendly resources a short distance from your pup goes a long way. The Chicago Park District has a guide for dog parks near you! Talk with your neighbors to gather opinions and advice about having dogs in your building & neighborhood. Remember that it is important to find places where your pup can socialize.

Find a routine.
Consistency will help keep your dog happy (especially if they’re a puppy), regardless of the size of your apartment. Since your pup will be living in a smaller area without a yard, he or she will require daily leash time more than once a day to stretch and do their business. If you aren’t able to stop home at a consistent time to let Fido out in the middle of the day, consider hiring a dog-walker so your pup can get outside more often.

Familiarize your pup with the surroundings.
Highrise living in Chicago can be busy and noisy. Be sure to take your pooch into the elevators and lobby during high frequency times whenever possible. This will help cut down on his curiosity on the daily sounds of apartment living.

Furry Neighbors
If you’ve already spent time socializing your dog, introducing your pup to other dogs in your building may not be an issue. If your dog seems anxious around other dogs, adjusting to apartment life may be more difficult. Practice introducing your pooch to other four-legged friends in a more neutral setting like a dog park. Remember that it may take some time for your dog to feel completely comfortable around your furry neighbors.

House Training
House training a puppy in your apartment can be a little extra challenging since there is no doggie door or direct outdoor access. Consider using pee pads for training at first until your pup can go a longer time between urination. You should be prepared for some puppy accidents.

Keep things exciting.
Dogs are like people – having only one or two distractions won’t keep them happy for long! Changing up their toys is a simple way to keep them entertained while you’re away at work. Hiding treats or scented fabrics around the apartment will also keep things new and exciting for your pup.

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Dog Beach Etiquette

Dog beaches can be a great place for you pup to run freely, get some exercise, and socialize. However, when visiting a dog beach, there are certain guidelines that you should follow to ensure that your dog and other dogs remain safe and have a good time.

Dogs should be at least 4 months old
Young puppies should stay away from the beach until they are completely vaccinated so that they can avoid exposure to contagious diseases that other dogs at the beach may be carrying.

Take your dog off the leash
If your dog beach allows pups off leash, let them roam. Though owners may think that it will be easier to control their dog on a leash, leaving your pup on their leash may actually cause more stress or anxiety since other dogs are running free. Additionally, other dogs may get caught up and tangled in your leash.

Don’t forget to supervise your dog
Though you may enjoy talking to other humans at dog beaches, don’t forget to also keep an eye on your pup. If you see your dog engaging in aggressive or bully-like behavior be sure to break it up. On the other hand, if your dog looks uncomfortable or anxious around other dogs, it might be time to leave.

Never bring unneutered dogs
Unneutered males have high testosterone levels that can make him a target of aggression and harassment from other male dogs. Always have your dogs fixed before bringing them to a dog beach.

Toys and treats
If possible, leave the toys and treats at home. If you plan on bringing them, don’t get upset when other dogs want to join in. If your dog has issues with resource-guarding (if they hoard or don’t like to share), then you should leave the toys and treats at home to avoid any confrontational problems.

Clean up after your dog
An obvious but important statement: no one wants to hang around a dirty dog beach or pick up after someone else! Keeping the beaches clean and enjoyable for everyone is a common courtesy.

After all the fun and exercise at the beach, take your pup and unwind at one of these dog-friendly restaurants in the area.