Tuesday, May 15, 2012

City Dog: The Taboo Habits of City Dogs

Maybe it's considered a bit of a taboo topic, but it seems most questions people email us 'offline' involve the bathroom habits of city dogs. People often wonder, how do we take city dogs for emergency bathroom runs when we don't have a backyard?  How our dogs know where to go to the bathroom when there aren't trees or grass?  How do we have bathroom breaks in inclement weather? What is the best way to clean up poo?
These are our experiences in a walk up unit without a backyard, but fellow city dog owners feel free to jump in with your experiences...especially those of you in in high-rise buildings.

Making Bathroom Breaks Routine
A couple of people have asked us what we do when the pooches need to go to the bathroom at odd hours. Actually....we have our pooches on a routine, so I can count the rare number of times they have ever needed to go out in the middle of the night (7!). We have them on a schedule where they have walks after breakfast and dinner and have a bathroom break before bedtime. We don't leave our water bowl out, but they have plenty of water with their meals and their diet is well-hydrated.
In the rare instances we do have to run outside, I happen to have a pair of slip on shoes waiting at the door at all times, along with a long coat. We even have a neighbor down the street who we often see in her bathrobe.
We also know some people who have pee pads out on their balconies which they used to potty train their dogs or just use when they don't want to go all the way downstairs.

Learning to Pee on Cement
The lack of grass hasn't actually been a big issue for our dogs. There are so many dogs that live in the city (we've counted 30 on our block alone!) that so many other pooches have peed on everything, our dogs are also just peeing on cement. Through there are plenty of hydrants, poles and sidewalk trees for Mr. B to water. Just check out this view from Mr B's camera where you can see most of the photos are him scouting out his next place to mark.

Going for Bathroom Breaks in All Weather
 Despite the weather, our dogs still need to go out. And since we don't have a backyard, we're right out there with them. Here we wrote about what we do in the rain, and here are tips on keeping dogs warm in coats and with sweaters, snoods, and hoodies.

Picking up Dog Poo
 Fun fact: Did you know dog poo is actually like caviar for rats? So besides being disgusting, when people don't pick up their dog poo it is actually helping increase the rat population. I will admit when I first adopted Miss M I was very squeamish about picking up the poo and I envisioned getting all kinds of rakes, and scoopers and gloves so I wouldn't have to feel like I was actually picking up poo. But then, after doing it just a few times, you get used to it. We have a waste bag dispenser attached to our leashes and just buy the rolls of bags (cheaper via ebay!). It would be nice to have a more eco-friendly option, but it just doesn't seem practical at this time. (Anyone else find one?)

So, how does everyone else manage your dogs' bathroom habits?

26 comments:

emfaye said...

Poopbags.com make eco-friendly poop bags. They're nice, I like them because you can't see the contents inside the bag and they're fairly thick so they're nice and strong.

Jorden said...

Here is our secret to the dog waste bags... (700) for $23.99. http://goo.gl/kgO9h

Jorden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nancy said...

I have a friend who owns an all natural/chemical free company. She sells biodegradable poop bags.( among many other wonderful things. Try her peppermint kitchen scrub-it's miraculous)
I've used them and they are really thick and sturdy.
http://poppysnaturallyclean.com/category/products/pets/

Taylor G said...

Keeping dogs in a routine is critical. We are very structured with our potty breaks. We also try not to feed Mugsy too late in the evening to avoid a midnight run. It doesn't always work out.

Laura said...

Yes, buy the bags that decompose.

Rebelwerewolf said...

That's so funny! I just did a post on dog poop, too. Will definitely be checking out the eco-friendly options because we go through a lot of bags.

Kerri said...

We're also on a schedule. Bathroom breaks first thing in the morning, and right after work. Then there's usually one around 8pm, and then again right before bed. This helps prevent surprises. As for bags, definitely get the biodegradable kind. I leave water out during the day, but I know our dog rarely drinks any when I'm not home. He just naps all day. My dog wont go on cement though. So I have to plan my walks around grassier areas. Thankfully there are quite a few parks and grassy boulevards nearby.

livierules said...

I'm very lucky in that Petey never really agitates to go out. He is a bed hog and after going for a long walk in the park he's happy to spend the rest of the evening in either his bed or mine.
I have been known to walk him in my pajamas, I have no problem walking around my block on the UES of NYC in my New Leash on Life T shirt :)

harrispen said...

That first picture of Miss M is priceless. She looks like she can't believe anyone would ask such indelicate questions about her bodily functions.

I'm glad we don't live in the city and have a one acre fenced in yard for Nina to use. Our only problem is sometimes she goes behind the shrubs and we don't know where she is :-)

Cindy

Kirsten (peacefuldog) said...

I experienced the same thing when we lived in the city (New York): dogs need surprisingly few outside breaks.

As far as poop bags, I used to enjoy walking in city parks and scavenging bags left behind as trash--they were always fluttering from trees and shrubs in the park I went to in NY, so my scavenging them to use as poop bags was a net ecological good :) Not to mention it was free.

Sam said...

We have a schedule too - our boys also know the commands "Go Pee" or "Go Poo" - this helps us convince them to go when it seems like an odd time or in an area where they aren't familiar.

Sam

SherBear said...

Late night bathroom breaks are extremely rare for Nala (usually only when she isn't feeling well), but she will use the cement on our balcony in an emergency. She would much prefer to poo in the grass but in an emergency she knows she's gotta make due!

Two Pitties in the City said...

And thanks for all the ecological suggestions! I knew you were a wise group.

Kiira said...

I have always wondered about the correct etiquette for these things, because we seem to have the opposite problem: too many tempting places to pee! What my boys see as plants just calling for a raised leg, my neighborhood see as expensive landscaping. To remind us, there are warnings of chemically treated grass, mini fences, and "please spare the boxwood!" signs. I know how toxic Petey's pee is (he has killed a small tree behind our place with ritual applications of morning pee), so I've done my best to thwart the boys from peeing on anything green aside from really fat trees. The unwanted (and perhaps equally impolite) result: now city trash bins, the corners of buildings, and fence fabric at construction sites are the targets. Boys!

Trinitys Love said...

Being a country girl, Trinity has never peed on cement, she purposely avoids it. She's pretty much on a routine to but it's much easier for me to bring her into the backyard. I don't know how people do it with a puppy. I also use a command for her to go to the bathroom. It makes it easier when she's unsure if she can pee there, lol!

brooke said...

Darwin's on a schedule... morning potty break, when we get home, and then before bed. Every once in a while (usually if she has an upset stomach) she'll whine at the door (which is right next to our room) to let us know she HAS to go out.
When she comes to work with us she's taken to peeing anywhere, parking lots, sidewalks, in the road, in crosswalks. hahaha.
How much are ebay poop bags? I've found cheap ones on amazon, http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002CRTN48/ref=oh_details_o01_s00_i00. Which reminds me we need to stock up on more!

Two Kitties One Pittie said...

Yeah, we get biodegradable bags at Doggy Style Pet Shop. Here's a google image link: http://www.google.com/imgres?q=biodegradable+dog+poop+bags&um=1&hl=en&client=safari&sa=N&rls=en&biw=1278&bih=615&tbm=isch&tbnid=rkBZzeR8yc3bPM:&imgrefurl=http://www.werd.com/4687/biodegradable-dog-poop-bags/&docid=kziKxU6H9P-ihM&imgurl=http://c745.r45.cf2.rackcdn.com/img/2009/poop_bags.jpg&w=620&h=400&ei=GPSyT9LdJYac8QTb3r3WCA&zoom=1&iact=rc&dur=639&sig=102313751680905897161&page=1&tbnh=110&tbnw=171&start=0&ndsp=13&ved=1t:429,r:5,s:0,i:93&tx=69&ty=56.

kasia077 said...

Max is on a set schedule and his foster brothers/sisters pick up the schedule quickly. He always has water but mostly sleeps during the day.

I find taking him on walks, even later at night or in the winter time, very enjoyable. Max gets one long walk and park time every day and several shorter potty break walks. I grew up in Warsaw where we all lived in apartment style buildings and much like living in Chicago, we had to walk our dogs as there were no yards. When we moved to the US we lived in the burbs so my family dog was usually let out in the yard. Although she still went on walks, I missed going on the shorter potty break walks. There's something about that little bit of fresh air right before bedtime that's so nice. I wouldn't get to enjoy it if I didn't have to walk Max.

Two French Bulldogs said...

mom uses baggies, BOL
Snuggles
Benny & Lily

Wen said...

Very good post, thanks for talking about it and sharing your techniques and tips. I'd always wondered how city dogs managed in a concrete jungle. x

Emily said...

We have a backyard but not a doggie door, and our dogs are usually crated when we are away. We always give them water in their crate and recently I had to learn the lesson that they may know how much they can drink and hold for the day, Miss Kylie does not! At first I felt terrible about not giving her water but she would completely soak her blankets while we were away and that's not fun for her to sit in either! In our house, I am on poop duty. My boyfriend who has a "weak stomach" does not clean up poop unless he is alone on a walk. Can you imagine?? Why do I let him get away with that? ;)

Amy said...

What a funny expression on Ms. M's face.

We lived in center city Philadelphia for years with our dogs and never had a problem finding places for them to go. In fact, when Ty was a puppy we'd take him to the ally behind our building and make sure he was off the sidewalk before he relieved himself. To this day he still steps off the curb to go to the bathroom! When we found Buster, he started going in the same places Ty went so that was easy. I think it's all about what they've learned.

Mary said...

Gross about the rats! Even though we have a yard now, I swear Levi saves up all his pee for his long afternoon walk. He marks EVERYTHING. Before we had a yard, I don't think we ever had to take Levi out at night, fortunately. If we did, that's what husbands are for and I never had to do it. We also use biodegradable bags which makes me feel somewhat better about all the waste.

I wish everyone in our neighborhood was as diligent because there is poop in our front yard every day. Our neighbor with yorkies jokes about it (ha ha, so funny) because their poop is small and he doesn't need to pick it up.

A Wonderful Dogs Life said...

We try to stick to a routine too. I prefer it when the humans are timely because by bedtime I want to have my potty done so I can go to bed.

Emma

Barb said...

I have two pitties in a townhouse with no yard, and agree a schedule is crucial. They know their routine and will let us know if we sleep a little too late. :) My female, Ginger, still will pee sometimes (she's healthy, we've had her checked out)so we put some pee pads down as a just-in-case measure, and she uses them when she's feeling, um, spiteful I suppose. When outdoors, she prefers peeing on the asphalt to the grass, and I have no idea why. When it is especially cold, the humans in the house yearn for a yard, but we just bundle up, and put coats on the pups, too. There is also an abandoned basketball court where we can close the gate and play ball with our male, Bear, which he loves. So, it all works out. But the routine is a huge part of our success, I think. Thanks so much for this blog and for sharing your experiences!

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