Moving to NYC with a Dog: 13 Helpful Tips

Moving anywhere with a dog can be a complicated process, and moving to a big city like New York City can be even more so. But with a little push in the right direction and some better knowledge of the city, your dog can live happily and healthily with you as you begin your New York City dream life.

1. Size Does Matter

Most apartment buildings in New York City do not allow tenets to have dogs who weigh more than 50 pounds. Although it is not impossible to find somewhere for you and your 200 lb Mastiff to live in New York City, you are going to have to search a lot harder and pay some hefty fees in order to live legally with your giant best friend. If your dog is on the smaller side, try to search for a complex that is pet friendly, or at least doesn’t have fees for pets.

2. Slow and Lazy Wins the Race

If your dog is old, overweight, has injuries, or is just plain lazy, they are going to thrive in New York City. The average apartment size in NYC is just about 700 square feet. This is roughly 1/4 the size of a standard tennis court. In other words, your canine is not going to have very much room to run around inside. If your dog does tend to have a lot of energy, schedule in lots of walks and take frequent trips to the dog park.

Did you know that dogs tend to be more badly behaved when they aren’t getting enough exercise? Letting your dog get out and stretch its legs can be a great opportunity for your dog to let its energy out in a healthy way, rather than in a destructive way. Take their energy level into consideration before you decide to move into an apartment.

3. Know the Laws, Rules, and Regulations

You are going to need to know the rules for dogs at your apartment complex AND the rules for dogs in New York City. As mentioned above, you may have to pay fees in order to have a dog live with you in your apartment. You should check with your apartment to know specifically what these fees are for you. In most cases, they tend to be anywhere from $30-50. There also may be a limit on how many animals you are allowed to have there.

Some other things to look into are the laws that affect you and your dog outside your home. There are fees for failure to pick up after your pet of up to $250. You also may not have your dog on a leash longer than 6 feet or tether them for longer than three hours without a fine. It’s important to do your research on the types of things. You need to know what they watch for in NYC so that you don’t end up with any unexpected fees.

4. Know Your Canine’s Personality

For all you non-dog lovers reading this, yes, dogs do have unique personalities. And no, you don’t have to give your dog an enneagram test. It is important to know your dog’s limits when it comes to the New York City lifestyle. Is your dog friendly with other dogs? How about cats? How about strange people? Does your dog tend to be frightened by loud noises? Crowded sidewalks? Bright lights? Does your dog hate the snow?

These are all things to consider when you’re making the transition with your canine to New York City where all of these factors are heavily involved every day.

5. The Flag Stands for Freedom

Dogs are free to visit most of the same places as humans in NYC. Most dogs can go on the subway, into shops, and into most public places. The limits are scarce when it comes to bringing your pet with you to run errands, eat out with friends, and shop. Just be sure they’re well behaved and you shouldn’t have an issue taking them anywhere you wish.

6. Salt, Salt, Baby

This tip is especially important to know! In the wintertime, many store owners will throw salt and chemical ice-melt out onto the pavement outside of their storefronts in order to melt it. You may have never noticed because you wear shoes, but your pup will get their paws burnt by the salt. Be sure to get your dog some winter booties when the season comes around to keep their feet safe. Plus they’ll look super cute in them!

7. Expensive Vet Bills

Although it may already be well known that everything is more expensive in New York, you may not have taken vet bills into account quite yet. Not only is it more expensive to help your pet in the event of an accident, but your pet is also just more accident-prone in the big city!

Taxis, bikes, and even heavy foot traffic on the streets of NYC can be a dangerous factor if your dog were to ever get loose.

8. Dirty Apartments

You’ll be finding a lot of blue’s clues (dirty paw prints) all-around your apartment if you are not giving your dog frequent baths to wash away the grime of the city from his paws. New York City is a dirty place, so your dog will be dirty just from walking the streets. Wash your dog often, wash their feet more often, and wash yourself even more often.

9. Look for First Floor Living

There are some great benefits to you and your pet if you can living on the first floor. If your dog doesn’t have the strongest bladder, living on the first floor will give you much easier and quicker access to the outdoors if there is ever a potty emergency. The time you waste on an elevator or stairwell can be the difference between a huge mess, and an extra half hour of your day to relax.

Also, dogs in New York City have been known to jump off of the balcony by accident. Living on the first floor minimizes this risk. If you are living with a balcony, consider a gate or window screen of some kind to keep your canine safe.

10. Make Friends with Local Dog Owers

Be prepared to make a lot of friends because you will find that in NYC, people approach you and your dog often. And a lot of the time, people will say hello to your dog more than they will say hello to you. If your dog is friendly, this shouldn’t be much of an issue, but if not, be prepared to have a lot of strangers coming up to try to pet your dog without asking. They mean no harm, it’s just the magic of a New Yorker’s bold personality.

11. Prepare for City Walks

The streets of New York are crowded. Being such a heavily populated place, it is vital to keep in mind that you are going to have a hard time walking your dog especially if their leash has any give. On a tight leash and with a well-behaved dog, you shouldn’t be tripping people up too much. If not, try exercising your dog at a gated dog park or doing multiple laps in a small area. Here are a few helpful tips on leash training:

  1. Walk the dog, don’t let the dog walk you
  2. No more than three stops per walk
  3. Always let your dog stop and say hello to other dogs, never to cats
  4. Sit at every stopping point (crosswalks etc.)

12. You Are What You Eat

If you care about your dog’s health while living in New York City, you’ll make it a priority to watch their diet. Even if you give them as much exercise as possible, your dog is more often than not going to be trapped inside a cramped apartment for most of the day. Feed your dog fresh canine foods like shredded chicken, unseasoned beef, unsalted scrambled eggs, and even vegetables.

Limit “free-feeding” which causes obesity in dogs. Instead, try a scheduled feeding time in the morning and at night. You may feel guilty at first or feel like you are depriving your dog of food, but as long as you are feeding them a sufficient amount of food at these times, you are not doing anything wrong. Remember you are doing your furry companion a favor by watching their weight and keeping them happy, active, and healthy.

13. Consider Your Neighbors

As we’ve already discussed, living in New York City usually means living in an apartment. Living in an apartment means living with neighbors. Close neighbors. On both sides of you. And above you. And across from you. And below you. And some of them might be out to get you. Keep this in mind when considering how your dog will play a part in your new New York life.

Consider giving your dog plush toys instead of hard ones as you will likely be on hard flooring, and neighbors below you can get annoyed at the sounds from a dog playing with hard toys on a hard floor. Also, consider rugs or carpets for the floor. As well for the previous reason, the dog’s feet will have nails that pitter-patter on the floor. This may be a comforting sound to you but to old man Albert downstairs, not so much.

You also may want to consider training your dog not to bark with a bark collar. You and your neighbors will appreciate this one.

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Paige Ramone

Hi, my name is Paige. An interesting fact about me is I am on a Women's field hockey team. I also love writing, but I do most of my writing after the kids are in bed.

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