Being a dog in the city isn’t easy. In fact, it can be so stressful that it inspired New York’s first members-only indoor dog park, The Barker NYC. Here, founder Brittany O’Steen has created a peaceful doggie haven where pets can run off-leash through green space and natural elements, worry-free. Plus, did we mention perks like certified group trainers, toys and even WiFi and workstations for humans? We chatted with O’Steen to get her insight on city dog parenting and what gear is a must.
CHUCK & DON'S + BARKER NYC URBAN SURVIVAL KIT
TAKE CARE OF YOUR PET’S MENTAL HEALTH
“The biggest adjustment for dogs that are new to the city is adapting to the overstimulation; smells, sounds, foot and vehicle traffic, etc. For dogs who are experiencing anxiety, it’s best for owners to keep their walking routes familiar, shorter in distance and more frequent until they grow accustomed to their surroundings. We found a cadence of routine and exercise that works for my dog, given he is a bit more anxious being outdoors mid-day versus early mornings or late evenings after traffic has died down.”
GET GEAR FOR THE SEASONS
“Summer for brachycephalic (smush-faced) breeds is more difficult due to their inability to walk for long distances as is, and the humidity doesn’t help. Other breeds may not like the cold or rain, like Italian Greyhounds. I would increase the amount of time they spend outdoors during seasons they love and find amazing community and social events indoors during the seasons they don’t.”
FIGHT DOGGIE WEIGHT GAIN
“My goldendoodle, Dublin, was still on his puppy diet when we moved to NYC, which has a higher protein and calorie content to support growth. A majority of the protein and calories are meant to be burned through hyperactivity and playtime, but his activity level went down tremendously given the unavailability of spaces to take him to run, socialize, and exercise. He gained some excess weight and I had to get creative in finding ways to keep him active and playing.”
TRY A DIET WITOUT FILLERS
“Dublin has always been on a freeze dried/raw diet. I recommend it for all dogs, unless there are unique dietary constraints, as it’s cleaner and closer to how they would be eating in the wild. Also, with fewer filler ingredients, it’s easier to adjust the serving for lifestyle changes.”
Stella & Chewy’s for a quality freeze dried raw diet.
MAKE EXERCISE A PRIORITY
“Not having the ability to properly exercise daily in a safe environment is the biggest daily struggle for city dogs. Most dense cities don’t prioritize open green spaces, and when they do it’s for human use only. Central Park only allows dogs off-leash before 9am and after 9pm, and all of the grassy areas have “No Dogs on the Grass” signage. Our dogs are left to leashes and concrete, which isn’t conducive to physical wellness. Exercise is such an integral part of a dogs holistic health, right up there with vaccinations and diet.”