How do busy people in NYC raise a puppy?
December 8, 2019 9:59 AM   Subscribe

Soon-to-be first-time dog mom here, living in NYC with a time-consuming job. My question is pretty simple: How do busy people in NYC raise a puppy? In particular, what do they do for the first weeks before it has had all it's vaccinations and can go to doggy daycare? Realistically I can likely work from home one day a week, but what should I do for the other days? Also, while I'm here, if there's anything else you think I should know about raising a puppy, especially in NYC, I'm eager to hear!
posted by unhappyprofessor to Pets & Animals (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think many people try to take a week or so off right at the beginning to help get pupper settled in. Then you'll need to have a walker come at least a couple of times of day (with wee wee pads as backup--tiny puppy bladders), taking care to have baby-gated off dangerous areas, or else crating the puppy. I assume you've costed this out--it will cost you somewhere in the vicinity of $400/mo. to have someone come but once a day for a short walk, and your new being will need more than that. (An insuperable obstacle to some of us for acquiring our own little friends, alas.)
posted by praemunire at 10:32 AM on December 8, 2019 [7 favorites]

(Note that before your dog's had its vaccinations it'll need to be solo walks with a walker and strict instructions to stay away from dog parks. You would hack off your own limb to avoid parvo.)
posted by praemunire at 10:33 AM on December 8, 2019 [5 favorites]

If you’re single, it’s very hard. Most people I know who pull this off as singles either work from home or are able to take a larger chunk of time off to do it before they’re able to send the pup to doggy day care (affording doggy day care is also a big factor). A puppy needs company and needs socialization and training. It’s not kind to a puppy to leave it alone and young puppies don’t have the ability to hold their waste long enough to be put in a crate for a work day. Do you have a friend or family member who could come stay with you for a few weeks to take care of the puppy? Maybe someone who usually works from home but would love a change of environment who would be willing to work and puppy sit at your place? If you can’t find someone who can do this, you’ll have to hire someone to come several times a day.

If you can’t find a way to have the puppy supervised properly, maybe reconsider the puppy and adopt an adult dog? They’re so much easier.
posted by quince at 11:32 AM on December 8, 2019 [24 favorites]

If you're considering any new furniture, don't.

Go ahead and buy yourself a second charger for your laptop.

The chewing is bonkers. We have door frames with bites in them. (Rawhide treats are great.)

Today our new little dude ate my favorite pen.

Like babies, they have a tendency to become 100% impossible right before they pass out.

Worth every penny.

Rigid routine really helps.

I'm making it sound awful and yes but it's also adorable. I love puppies. I'm even okay about being on my third laptop charger. And right now Mr. Llama is using the carpet cleaner (which we call The Snail) to clean up the ink from my pen.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:36 AM on December 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

This all depends on your particular dog - but before adopting, I planned/budgeted to put my dog in daycare every day while I was at work, and it turned out my vet recommended having a dog walker come mid-day instead, because she said daycare every day was just too much activity, even for my pretty active dog. All that playing and interaction all day, every day was not needed. I’d pictured my dog sad and alone while I was at work, but she actually enjoys her nap time. (Caveats that this was a shelter dog adopted in late puppy stage so I never had her as a baby, and not in NYC but in another city.)

Again, depending on the particular dog - your dog may not take well to dog parks or street walks. Training will help with everything, but some dogs just don’t like the sidewalk showdown where you’re walking past other dogs in small spaces. Your dog might react unexpectedly to certain dogs, sometimes it’s as if they’re pissing each other off telepathically.

A lot of puppy behaviors you think will never end actually will end (the damn chewing of every pillow I owned).

Overall, you will hit some road bumps and lots of things you don’t expect, but by the time your dog is past the puppy stage you’ll know your dog very well. Have confidence in your ability to tell when your dog is happy versus unhappy and don’t worry about doing what works best for your dog. My dog hates the car, so we don’t do all the cute day hiking trips I pictured us doing—that kind of thing.
posted by sallybrown at 11:38 AM on December 8, 2019

(Rawhide treats are great.)

Rawhide treats have some risks associated with them. They're not digestible and can easily become a choking hazard. They can also be treated with stuff I'm not comfortable giving my dog.
posted by Weeping_angel at 12:25 PM on December 8, 2019 [5 favorites]

Dog walker is how I managed it (but also adopted an adolescent dog rather than a baby puppy) as a single person in DC. She costs about $300 a month for one 30-60 minute visit a day, and that's on the low end for what dogwalkers in my area typically charge. Tracker also goes to daycare once a week or so now, which he enjoys, but every day would be really exhausting for him.

If you're unsure about rawhide treats, my vet recommended Earth Animal's rawhide alternative treats. They are apparently made out of solid gold because they cost a fortune, but they're safe to eat and keep my dog occupied for a nice long time.
posted by fancypants at 12:49 PM on December 8, 2019

I'm not in NYC but got a puppy while living in an apartment in a city. We got the puppy at 16 weeks, which was great, as each week you can wait gives the puppy additional bladder control. I've taken care of younger puppies though (8-12 weeks), and even though they supposedly can hold it for 2-3 hours, they just... won't. My experience is that you might think you have them on a schedule for a few hours, and then all of a sudden they'll pee 5-6 times in a row for no reason after just going outside. So with small puppies a lot of it is waiting it out until they grow more -- either crating them or putting them in an x-pen in the kitchen with puppy pads. It might seem like neverending random messes, but eventually they will stop, you'll understand their cues, and you'll get on a schedule. I do think it's way easier to house-train dogs who don't have yards, as you're always physically with them when they go outside and can give them treats for doing their business, vs just letting them out.
We had an easy time with ours because I was off school for a few weeks and could be home most of the day (up until he was 20 weeks old). When I went back to school, my partner and I staggered our schedules so I left early and he left late, and with this we managed to not leave him alone for more than 6 hours at a time until he was almost 8 months old. In a previous life I was a dogwalker and I took puppies out in the middle of the day for around $15 - they're not really big enough to need an actual walk so 10-15 minutes of activity is perfect. Daycare is a great option for a couple days a week, but many dogs will be stressed with 5 days of constant activity and playing.
posted by autolykos at 1:13 PM on December 8, 2019

Rawhide treats are great

No, they are not. Please don't give them to your dog.

Take a dishrag, tie a knot in it, or, if it's a long one tie a knot in each end and in the middle. Soak it in chicken broth. Freeze it. Give it to the dog, attended. The broth will make him/her interested. The cold will help with teething.
posted by dobbs at 1:15 PM on December 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

I agree that a puppy really needs someone to check in and ideally do a pee break / short walk or playtime every 4 hours.

Some dogs really don't like doggy daycare (too boisterous) or may change their opinion over time, so I would make sure you have the budget to have a daily walker, maybe even twice, if you work long hours and pup turns out to not like daycare.
posted by nakedmolerats at 2:13 PM on December 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Get an older puppy.
posted by metasarah at 2:41 PM on December 8, 2019 [7 favorites]

Unless you’re super rich you shouldn’t get a tiny puppy. Sorry; it’s just not fair to you or them.
posted by SaltySalticid at 2:59 PM on December 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

we live in nyc and adopted an 8 week old puppy about a year ago. it was definitely a lot of work.

general tips:

- crate train from the very beginning. we got a crate for her on the way back from the shelter (not before, because we didn’t know how big she would be). in addition, dog beds are a waste of money for a puppy — she was only interested in extracting the fluff from her dog bed. i learned that the best bedding is nothing at the beginning, then old clothes around 3 months, then a cheap blanket around 6 months. yeah, putting a crying pup in a barren crate made me feel like dr. evil, but it’s important for crate training: if she had bedding, she would eliminate in the crate and then push the bedding over it.

- speaking of crates, have a conversation with whomever you share a bedroom with (e.g. a partner) about where the pup will sleep at night. we chose not to keep the crate in our bedroom, so we spent a week moving the crate further from the bedroom until it was in the next room, which is where she stays now. this decision cost about 3 months of intermittent whining and crying at night (a lot at the beginning, occasional bursts afterward), but she is totally fine now. during this time, i recommend re-re-re-reading this book because the title contains invaluable advice, if nothing else.

- sign up for puppy classes asap — we went to amanda gagnon. cassidy is a great trainer.

- choose a vet before you get the dog, make an intake appointment right after you get the dog.

- as soon as your vet clears it, start going to the dog park as frequently as you can stand to do it! early socialization is paramount and that lil dude has to socialize as much as possible before the first fear period sets in. our pup plays extremely well with other dogs and that aspect of her training was all her doing, we just needed to bring her to the park. the puppy class we took talked about how to mediate playtime; that was necessary for the first month, ever since then it’s been pretty hands-off. now i bring a book and only glance up to see if it’s my turn to pick up some poop.

- for the first 6 months we had the pup and all her stuff in a room with linoleum flooring. specifically: crate, a couple toys, food+water bowls, astroturf pee pad. we put a baby gate on the entrance to the room so we could see her (and her, us). she spent most of her time there, with occasional forays to the rest of the apartment. since this is nyc and space is nonexistent, i will come clean and admit that “that room” was the kitchen, because the bathroom was too small and the only other room was the bedroom. oh yeah, we had to get an extra-tall gate because she jumped over a smaller gate while we were off getting groceries. (casualties: charger cable, doormat)

- for puppies in apartments, if it takes you longer than 1 minute to bring the pup outside, i strongly recommend getting an astroturf pee pad — not for primary use, but for accidents. she learned pretty quickly to eliminate on the pad, and it coupled with her housetraining in that she associated the texture of the astroturf with “appropriate place to eliminate” — so if i took her to a grassy spot outside, she would eliminate right away. we stopped needing the pee pad around 7 months, and i’m pretty happy to report that she wouldn't eliminate inside without the pad — the texture really matters! also put your rugs away. turns out, rug feels like grass.

- coupled with the above: i’ll assume you’re getting your pup soon, and it’s wintertime, so some advice from a fellow winter-adopter: puppies can’t really regulate their body temperature, so you’ll probably need winter gear, and you’ll need to carry the pup around if you’re going for a walk that’s longer than 5-10 minutes. our pup would “let us know” she was too cold by refusing to walk anymore. fwiw she had a coat and booties and all that, but it’s really not enough in the middle of winter. this is relevant to the above point because winter makes house training harder — she HATED eliminating outside on those frigid winter mornings/nights. she would do it eventually, but there was a week-long stretch where the temperature at night was too low to safely take her out (-10° C) and the astroturf pad was a lifesaver in that case. this winter i’m also using musher’s secret to combat the salt on the sidewalks.

- i recommend being home for the first week — either take the time off or work from home if you’re able. after that, the astroturf pad and a midday walker should suffice. i also recommend to start practicing leaving the house without the pup, to get the crying out early. start with just opening the door then closing it, graduate to longer and longer absences. our rule on returning was “we don’t open the front door until she’s been quiet for 10 seconds” — so she wouldn’t learn that crying made us come back. she got over being alone within the first month. may want to write a note to the neighbors and offer... cookies? bourbon? something nice d:

best of luck! small pups are a lot of work but you get to see them be adorable and stupid, you form a unique bond with them, and you can train them from the beginning. there were more than a couple sleepless nights, but i regret nothing.
posted by =d.b= at 3:02 PM on December 8, 2019 [5 favorites]

I was lucky to be able to arrange vacation to be with my pug for the first couple of weeks when he was tiny, then came home at lunch for the next couple of months to take him out. After that, I hired a dog walker to take him out every day in the early afternoon.

But, what really made the big difference was training him to use a litterbox, and setting up a large exercise pen that held his box, bed, and water while I was away . This article gives some decent instructions on how to do the training.

He's 12 now, and still loves his pen. Although he prefers to go outside to do his business, I keep a clean litterbox around so that he's not in distress if I'm unexpectedly late or something.
posted by rpfields at 3:39 PM on December 8, 2019

Rawhide treats have some risks associated with them.

Guys. He ate a pen. Plastic. Permanent ink. He ate a Barbie. Our other dog ate baby socks and pooped them into the yard. You could see their lovely jewel-tones in our yard all winter long as the snow fell and melted. Absolutely keep as much as you can out of harms way. You will do your very best. But somewhere in a back corner of your living room is a little bottle of periwinkle blue acrylic paint you were going to paint a shelf with. Somewhere in your house is a nightlight that you thought 'no way. come on.'

I swear this is true: our puppy ate the library copy of Veganomicon and and I had to walk into the library and tell them my dog ate their book and I had to pay for it.

Do you know what doesn't thrill a lot of pups? Knotted socks. Braided ties. Scraps of carpet.

If it helps bridge the distance though, Kleenex boxes are a huge hit. And ice cubes! And frozen washcloths.

My point is: really, you're looking for something that works because the little dude is in pain, he's trying to get his little toothies through the gums. Every single thing you take for granted in your living situation is now in play.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:03 PM on December 8, 2019 [9 favorites]

Guys. He ate a pen. Plastic. Permanent ink. He ate a Barbie.

Yes, but people shouldn't ignore facts based on your anecdotal evidence. I know a dog who ate a shit ton of chocolate one Easter and lived -- that doesn't negate the fact that chocolate (and onions and almonds and grapes and other things) can be very bad or toxic to dogs.

One of my dogs ate a tensor bandage that was rolled up like a sausage. He shit it out over days while I had to follow him around with a pair of scissors. Afterwards he was fine, but I don't recommend you feed dogs tensor bandages because "It all worked out fine for my pup!"

There's no need to intentionally give dogs things that can harm them and there are plenty of safe alternatives to rawhide.
posted by dobbs at 7:31 PM on December 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

Not NYC, but in a similar situation in an apartment in LA, we decided to get a slightly older dog who was already housebroken (we think she was around 1 year old when we got her) while my husband was on summer break and only doing one course during the summer, so that she had someone with her most of the day.
posted by samthemander at 9:53 PM on December 8, 2019

Maybe look into an older rescue? We just got a two year old border collie, he's almost perfect. Notifies us when he has to go out. A little jealous when other dogs get attention, he needs balanced petting times.

We still need to do some leash work, but he seems to make friends at the dog park easily.
posted by Marky at 11:49 PM on December 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

We live in NYC and got a puppy last summer. We:

- Cobbled together two weeks off with a combo of vacation days/work from home days, which took our puppy to 10 weeks old. We spent this time getting the puppy used to her crate.
- On the advice of our vet, we started house training outside right away and skipped pee pads/astroturf. We kept the puppy away from other dogs and away from tree beds (parvo lives longer and more easily in soil/grass), but our vet had told us the risk of concrete was minimal. For us, this was the right balance of minimizing risk while starting to get the puppy exposed to city noises, smells, and feels. This is a highly personal decision, and people have very, very strong feelings, but I mention it just to counter the idea that you have to keep your puppy inside until 16 weeks.
- Most larger dog walking services will offer "puppy visits", where a walker comes to relieve your pup and play and socialize with them in a way that's appropriate for their age. Ours would pop the puppy down to the sidewalk to pee, then spend 25 minutes with her inside her playpen before putting her back down for a nap. Once our two weeks at home were up, we had puppy visits 3x a day until she was 12 weeks, then backed down to 2x a day until she hit 16 weeks and got all her shots, at which point she was able to start doing regular walks/daycare.
- Absolutely look for a puppy class in your neighborhood. These are specifically targeted towards 8-16 week old puppies still in the process of finishing their shots, and lets them have a chance to practice socializing while burning off some of their energy. This was a LIFESAVER.

Having a puppy in the city is really hard, harder than it would be in the suburbs, but if there are also more resources available than I'd have predicted in my pre-dog life. There are advantages, too - our dog is great with humans and other dogs, not leash reactive, and desensitized to noise. There were many times when she was a puppy when I worried that we were depriving her because we didn't have a private backyard for her to grow up in, but in retrospect now, the time before she was fully vaccinated went by in the blink of an eye.

Adopting an older dog is a wonderful thing to do, but there are valid reasons why someone would want a puppy, so I'm just reiterating that raising one in the city can be done and it's worth it! Our dog is the best now.
posted by superfluousm at 9:38 AM on December 9, 2019

SF, but no backyard and basically the same.

The first 1.5 weeks, my partner stayed home (self employed). Then he left to go out of town for 5 weeks. We found a doggy daycare just for puppies only, where the dog could start as soon as they had their first vet appointment, as early as 8 weeks. It was only for other puppies, and it was very expensive, and so the idea was that every other puppy was also well taken care of and unlikely to be exposed to disease. They also trained the dogs, which was great. That was only 3 days a week because $$$, so I worked from home one day a week and then the 5th day I would have a friend work from my apartment or drop him at a friend's house.

Once he was like ~14 weeks old, we paid for someone from Rover to come for an hour in the middle of the day on the other non-daycare day. (So, crated for 3.5 hours, then a visit, then another 3.5 hours, then I was home.)

Note: Our vet was clear that parvo is so pervasive that the dog should set foot on the ground in the city (outside of a private backyard) until done with vaccines. We had to set up a tray of turf on our fire escape because the dog can't go outside on the sidewalk or in a park. (This worked very well, by 12 weeks old the dog was ringing the bell to go outside on the fire escape.) On the weekends we would drive up to beaches in very wealthy/nice counties where the vet said it was OK for the dog to run below tideline. (Combo of high-income area where vets are likely to be vaccinated and the tide cleaning the sand.)

It's tough. But it's worth it!!
posted by amaire at 9:50 AM on December 9, 2019

General advice:

1. Never, ever, under any circumstances, should you use a squeaky toy outside of the house. Never take a squeaky ball to the dog park, for instance.

2. Your dog is your mirror. Pay attention to how your mood is reflected in your pet. Use this. (Note, people who are in denial about this are in denial about themselves.)
posted by dobbs at 8:24 PM on December 9, 2019

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