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Out of the Cage! The Blog of the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals

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Even if your apartment is tiny, life in the city offers plenty of big opportunities for fun, exercise, and training for dogs of all sizes.

Even if your apartment is tiny, life in the city offers plenty of big opportunities for fun, exercise, and training for dogs of all sizes.

Out of the Cage! (Spring 2007)

Oh, Behave! Arden Moore Advises About Dogs and Cats in the City

by Arden Moore

Small Digs, Big Dog

Q: I live on the 10th floor of a high-rise building in New York City. My one-bedroom condo is 600 square feet. I love city life and don't plan to move, but I really want to adopt a dog. I volunteer at a doggy day care on Saturdays and I know that I could offer a deserving dog a good home. I prefer larger dogs who weigh at least 50 pounds. Would living in such a small space drive a big dog crazy?

A: By all means, adopt a big, lovable dog, but choose carefully. Physical size does not parallel the amount of energy a dog possesses. Some of the top canine couch loungers include Greyhounds and Great Danes. Conversely, some dogs that turn into interior designers of the worst kind (chewing rugs, shredding sofas, and yapping nonstop) pack less than 15 pounds.

Before you take any steps toward adopting, though, check with your condo association and learn their pet rules. Savvy condo groups focus on temperament — not poundage — in their pet policies. They want well-behaved dogs and responsible owners. Your next step should be to honestly assess how much time you have to exercise a dog and then be careful to choose a canine companion who will be satisfied with what you provide.

Dogs are very adaptable, and city dogs are exposed to many sights, sounds, and smells. These exposures often enhance their social skills when they meet people and other critters during daily walks. Plus, big cities offer numerous canine amenities like doggy spas, bakeries, daycares, training centers, and dog-friendly transportation. When I was in New York City with Chipper, she sat so nicely next to me that we had no trouble flagging down taxis. A few cabbies even remarked that Chipper showed more manners than some of their two-legged riders! We toured some dog centers that feature indoor walking tracks — ideal during inclement weather.

Big cities also provide plenty of places for dogs to get exercise. Seek out dog-friendly parks and canine play groups. If you work all day, look into a dog day care or hire a professional dog walker to give your dog a break in the middle of the day. Don't let the size of your place keep you from teaching your dog city manners. Keep plenty of treats in your tiny kitchen and work on commands like sit pretty (ideal when sharing elevators with dog-apprehensive strangers) and curb (stopping and sitting at intersections until the light turns green). Your dog will be happy to demonstrate his repertoire of tricks during walks and perhaps the two of you will convert more New Yorkers into dog fans. And don't forget to scoop your dog's poop!

Excerpt from The Dog Behavior Answer Book (Storey Books, 2006) with permission from author Arden Moore (

With patience and a few irresistible games and treats, your cat can learn to love your new boyfriend or girlfriend.

With patience and a few irresistible games and treats, your cat can learn to love your new boyfriend or girlfriend.

Down on Dating

Q: My cat, Bailey, is about six years old. I have had him since he was a kitten. He has every toy you can think of and I dote on him. He loves me, but he seems to hate my boyfriend, Nick. Whenever Nick visits, Bailey spits, growls, and hisses. If Nick tries to approach him, Bailey hisses and swats at him or dashes out of the room. This is causing problems in our relationship. I would never give up Bailey, but I really like this guy. Why doesn't my cat like my boyfriend? What can I do to get Bailey to at least tolerate Nick?

A: Welcome to the new world of dating, where a cat has a big say in your love life. I remember a savvy senior friend named Florence who taught me a lot about dating when I was in college. I rented the upstairs of her house in Crown Point, Indiana. I lived there with my childhood cat, Corky, who was 12 at the time. Corky had run of her entire house. Florence would size up my boyfriends by how they treated Corky and how Corky reacted to them. She used to tell me, "If a man can't love an animal, he can't love you."

She was right.

In your case, Bailey is feeling a bit threatened by this new guy commandeering so much of your time and attention. He is responding in the only way he knows — by hissing, swatting, staring, and dashing to another room. You didn't mention how your boyfriend reacts to Bailey's ill will. If he doesn't like cats, Bailey is certainly aware of that fact.

But if this guy is willing to make this work, the best strategy is to make him more popular in Bailey's eyes. Start by asking Nick to display a friendly but nonchalant attitude toward Bailey. In other words, he shouldn't try too hard to win over Bailey by forcing affection. Instruct him to never stare directly into Bailey's eyes or make any kind of direct approach, as cats view these as threatening signs.

The next step is to have Nick bribe Bailey with delicious, highly aromatic treats. Let your boyfriend be the only one who gives A-plus treats to Bailey so that he associates Nick with something positive.

Third step: have Nick bring toys or engage in playing one of Bailey's favorite games while you watch from the sidelines. The two need to develop a relationship of their own. It will take time, but the payoff could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship between them.

Excerpt from The Cat Behavior Answer Book (Storey Books, 2007) with permission from author Arden Moore (


The Dog Behavior Answer BookThe Cat Behavior Answer BookArden MooreAbout the Author

Pet expert Arden Moore travels coast-to-coast unleashing practical tips and advice for people on how to better understand their dogs and cats. She is the author of 17 pet books, editor of Catnip, managing editor of Fido Friendly, and member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. Her books are available on and major bookstores. She shares her Oceanside, CA, home with four rescued pets — dogs Chipper and Cleo, and cats Callie and Murphy. Learn more by visiting her website: