Nando is a country boy – he was born in a lovely part of Franconia, Germany. He now lives in the city, and has needed to learn to adjust to city life.
We live in an apartment in Zürich, close to the city centre. Our neighbourhood is an old industrial quarter that is gradually being transformed into a business and residential hub – and on the weekends, our neighbourhood turns into a party district. We are lucky to have 2 nice parks nearby, that are away from traffic.
I have never kept a dog in a large city before – so this was a new experience, with lots of questions that needed to be answered, and some different challenges!
A few topics that have been important for city living with a puppy:
Living in a 7th floor apartment…..
The first few weeks of toilet training were a bit of a shock to the system, as there were many many elevator trips down to the garden. We initially tried going every 1-2 hours, but still had some accidents, especially in the afternoon between 2-6pm when sometimes every 30 minutes was necessary. We are used to the routine now….and Nando is learning how to let us know when he needs to go.
In the first few weeks, after there were a number of accidents in the apartment, I did a lot of research on indoor toilet options – and there are some really nice/clever ideas out there – but in the end we did not need one. More on our toilet training experience here.
Our apartment floors are very slippery for puppy feet, and on the first morning, after watching Nando slip and slide everywhere, I raced out to our local hardware store to find a solution.
Our short term solution was carpet underlay, which we taped to the floor. It didn’t look to bad, was not hugely expensive, and worked great. It does accumulate dirt underneath however.
Here is a video that shows what happens when Nando veers off the mats onto the slippery floor:
We are slowly replacing these carpet underlays with cheap rugs – second hand or on sale. They are easier to vacuum and keep clean than the carpet underlay.
You can also see in this video how well the carpet underlay works to stop Nando from sliding backwards when he sits. If he were on the floor, his butt would constantly slide backwards. Developmental disease of the joints, such has hip dysplasia, may be exacerbated by puppies trying to navigate slippery floors – so we are doing out best to protect Nando’s joints.
There is no choice but to wash Nando in the shower (as compared to with a hose out in the garden). Its not that bad really, fairly clean, and easy with a detachable shower head on a hose. Afterward we just let Nando roll around on towels placed on the bathroom floor. Then we leave him out on the balcony until his is a bit drier……Nando gets to a whole other level of cute after a bath:
Outside the apartment:
There are a lot of reflective surfaces in our apartment block and neighbourhood. Nando can look at himself all the time if he wants – and he often does. He checks himself out in the elevator mirror every time he walks in, and sometimes when we walk past buildings. He also watches us in the mirrors – especially in the first few weeks – which must have been confusing for him.
Parties and Rubbish!!
We live in a nightclub district. For teenagers who cannot afford the entry fees or are not old enough to go in, they still like to party in the area and take advantage of the nice parks – like the park downstairs. Mostly they do attempt to put their rubbish in bins, but the bins are not big enough and there are not enough of them, so rubbish is usually overflowing all weekend.
Beer cups have become an excellent puppy toy! As have coke bottles! Broken glass – not so much. Chewing gum and plastic wrappers – not ideal. Serviettes and tissues – grrrr (see below). On the weekends we have to watch Nando very carefully when we are down in the park……..most of the time he doesn’t swallow what he puts in his mouth, but it still makes us nervous.
The Tissue Issue:
Tissues and paper serviettes are currently the bane of our puppy-parent life – Nando LOVES them. In the city, it is a bit shocking how many loose tissues and paper serviettes are lying around the place – we did not really notice until we had a puppy that hoovers them up!! I will confess, I reach into Nando’s mouth (sometimes all the way to the back of his throat) to retrieve them – its gross – not the saliva, but the thought of what might be on the tissues!! Perhaps this is not great ‘training’ but I don’t care – I only have so much time in my life. Its a quick fix. I should mention that Nando is a sweetheart, and allows me to do this with no aggression – also bless the fact that dogs have almost no gag reflex!
Commuting by bus and tram:
Nando did not have much choice – he had to learn to ride buses and trams in the first week – either come to work with me, or stay home alone for 6+ hours. The first 2 times, we were both very nervous, but after that it got easier, and then it got fun – for Nando at least, because he once found dried sausage behind a seat, and has been looking for more ever after. Nando is an excellent little commuter now – he is learning to sit at the bus/tram door and wait for passengers to disembark, then runs onto the bus/tram and just hangs out, with the occasional search for dried sausage or tissues (grrr – they are on buses too!). I try and avoid travelling at peak periods, but he can handle a crowded bus if needed. We have experimented with different seating positions, but I am finding, especially as he grows, it is easier just to stand.
There are a lot of loud noises, and large moving objects in the city, which Nando sometimes finds scary. Cranes, diggers, jackhammers, drills etc – its a lot to take in – plus we live near a train station, so trains are constantly coming and going. When we are near traffic, the rev of motorcycle engines are particularly frightening, as a Skateboarders doing tricks on concrete.
Some noises, like trains and traffic, no longer bother him; construction noises he is learning to tolerate; skateboarders and motor cycles are still scary……..as is any loud, sudden bang.
Update: At 21 weeks of age, Nando’s fear of noises has unfortunately gotten worse. He is sometimes reluctant to leave the apartment building. This is a problem that is going to take time and patience to solve. The current strategy is to ask him to sit outside, in a place he feels comfortable, and just listen to the noises until he gets bored. Skateboarders induce such a frantic response in him, that this is not always possible – poor baby, but it works OK with construction noises. My husband might have to get out the old skateboard, and we will desensitise Nando to it with some fun activities…… hopefully once he is out of his teething phase he will feel more confident about life.