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Training for Urban Living: Tips for City Dogs | Pupford

March 27th, 2024

Filed under Training, Lifestyle + Stories

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Urban living presents unique challenges for our furry companions. From navigating crowded sidewalks to encountering various stimuli like sirens and bustling street traffic, city dogs need specialized training to thrive in their environment.

In this blog post, we'll explore essential tips and techniques for training city dogs, ensuring they remain safe, well-behaved, and happy amidst the urban hustle and bustle.

Table of Contents:

  1. Understanding City Dogs
  2. Practical Training Tips for City Dogs
  3. Mental Enrichment Ideas For City Dogs

Understanding City Dogs

A woman sitting with a dog in front of a city skyline

Training a dog for city living involves more than just basic obedience commands. It requires addressing specific challenges that arise in urban environments. Here are some challenges your dog may encounter when living in the city and ways to address them.

Noise Sensitivity

Cities are noisy places, with constant traffic, construction, and other loud sounds. Dogs must learn to remain calm and focused amidst these distractions.

To help your dog cope with loud noises, create a safe space at home where they can retreat during noisy times. Use white noise machines or calming music to mask outside sounds. Additionally, desensitize your dog to loud noises gradually using recordings or outdoor exposure, paired with positive reinforcement.

We have plenty of sounds right at your fingertips in our Pupford App! Perfect for sound desensitization training.

Crowds and Congestion

Urban areas are often crowded with people and other dogs. Teaching your dog to navigate through crowds politely is essential for their safety and the comfort of those around them.

Teach your dog to walk politely on a leash and practice walking in crowded areas gradually. Use high-value treats and praise to reward calm behavior around crowds. Consider using a front-clip harness to provide better control in congested areas.

Consider getting your dog a Canine Good Citizen certification to showcase their ability to behave in public spaces.

Traffic Safety

Busy streets and intersections pose significant risks to dogs. Training them to navigate traffic safely, understand traffic signals, and respond to cues promptly can prevent accidents.

Train your dog to wait at curbs, cross streets only on cue, and respond to traffic signals. Use positive reinforcement techniques to reinforce safe behaviors around roads. Consider using reflective gear or LED lights on your dog's collar or leash for added visibility during nighttime walks.

Stimulus Control

In the city, dogs will encounter various stimuli like food scraps, trash, and unfamiliar objects on sidewalks. Training them to ignore and leave these distractions reduces the risk of ingesting harmful substances or getting into trouble.

To teach your dog to ignore these distractions, use "leave it" and "watch me" cues paired with positive reinforcement to redirect their attention away from distractions.

You can learn both of these skills in our free 30 Perfect Pup training course!

Practical Training Tips For City Dogs

A border collie walking through a crosswalk in the city

While all dogs, urban or rural, could benefit from these training tips, here are some things to keep in mind when training your city dog.


Early and ongoing socialization is crucial for dogs. Expose them to various environments, people, and animals from a young age to help them develop confidence and good manners in different situations. For dogs living in the city, it is important to expose them to city-specific experiences such as riding in an elevator, loud city noises, constructions, crowded spaces, etc.

Basic Obedience Training

Teach basic obedience cues such as sit, stay, come, and wait in different urban settings. Practice these cues regularly, gradually increasing distractions to reinforce obedience.

Make sure to use positive reinforcement training techniques to create a strong bond with your pup based on trust and mutual respect.

Leash Training

Proper leash manners are essential for city dogs. Teach them to walk calmly on a loose leash, without pulling or lunging. Use positive reinforcement techniques like treats and praise to reward desired behaviors.

Check out our Leash Walking training course for everything you need to know about loose leash walking!


Gradually expose your dog to common urban stimuli like sirens, car horns, and loud noises. Start with low-intensity sounds and gradually increase the level as your dog becomes more comfortable.

Check out our Guide To Sound Desensitization to learn more!

Traffic Safety

Train your dog to wait at curbs, cross streets only on cue, and avoid darting into traffic. Use treats and praise to reinforce safe behaviors around roads and intersections.

Focus and Attention

Teach your dog to focus on you amidst distractions. Practice attention exercises in different urban settings, rewarding your dog for maintaining eye contact and ignoring distractions.

Patience and Persistence

Training a dog takes time and patience, especially when dealing with all the distractions that come along with the hustle and bustle in a city. Be patient with your dog's progress, and don't get discouraged by setbacks. Stay consistent and persistent in your training efforts, and you'll see results over time.

Understanding Breed Characteristics

It is important to remember that many of our dogs were not bred for city life, making that world a completely foreign concept to them. Guardian breeds meant to protect their family and livestock may struggle to have guests come over into a small apartment space. Herding breeds meant to herd and nip at the heels of livestock may struggle walking through crowded spaces. Hounds with a natural prey drive may be inclined to bark and bay at small animals and birds out the window or on walks. With this in mind. It is important to give our dogs outlets for natural behaviors that we have bred them for for centuries.

Learn more about breed groups and applied ethology with expert Kim Brophey!

Seek Professional Help

If you're struggling with training or behavior issues, don't hesitate to seek professional help from a certified professional dog trainer. They can provide personalized guidance and support to address specific challenges your dog may be facing.

Mental Enrichment Ideas for City Dogs

A woman walking two dogs in a city park

Get Out Of The City

Whenever possible, get out of the city! Take your dog to a large field to run around, or go explore a hiking trail.

Interactive Feeding

Use puzzle feeders or food-dispensing toys to make mealtime more engaging for your dog. This provides mental stimulation and helps prevent boredom, especially for dogs with high energy levels.

Don’t have any puzzle toys? Use a muffin tin for mental enrichment at meal times!

Urban Agility

Set up a mini agility course in your apartment or local park using household items like chairs, broomsticks, and cones. Agility exercises not only provide physical exercise but also mental stimulation as your dog learns to navigate obstacles.

Nose Work

Engage your dog's sense of smell by hiding treats or toys around your home or during walks in urban areas. This activity taps into their natural instinct to sniff and forage and provides mental enrichment.

Training Games

Incorporate training into everyday activities by playing games like hide-and-seek or "find it" where your dog searches for hidden treats or toys. This strengthens their bond with you while providing mental stimulation.

Training for Urban Living Recap

Training a dog for urban living requires patience, consistency, and specialized techniques to address the unique challenges of city environments.

By socializing your dog, teaching obedience cues, and practicing positive reinforcement techniques, you can help your furry companion thrive in the hustle and bustle of city life.

Remember to be patient, persistent, and proactive in your training efforts, and enjoy watching your city dog become a well-behaved and confident urban dweller.


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