City Living for Dog Owners

Unless you’re terribly allergic, having a dog in NYC could considerably improve your quality of life.

There’s nothing quite like having a faithful companion who will love you through the good times and the bad. A furry friend to cuddle with while reading a book, watching television, or even sleeping in bed. Not to mention, needing to walk your dog is a great excuse to actually get outside regularly. Thanks, pup!

However, if this will be your first time having a canine in New York City—or if you’re moving to the area with one—you’ll want to know some things beforehand. With great dog comes great responsibility, but city living with a dog doesn’t need to be ruff. Continue on for our 10 tips on living with a dog in NYC.

1. Find a Pet-Friendly Home

Time required: One week to three months.
Approximate cost for pet fees: $35 to $50 per month, or a $250 to $500 one-time payment.

This is number one for a reason. If the home you’re interested in isn’t pet-friendly—explicitly for dogs—you may be in trouble. You’re either: a) definitely not going to be living there, or b) creating mass amounts of stress for yourself by attempting to hide the pup from your landlord and neighbors in some sitcom-esque caper. Many buildings allow dogs on a case-by-case basis, depending on the dog’s temperament, breed, and size. Pets over 50 pounds are more challenging to place, so start your search two to three months in advance if your pooch is large. You’ll likely be required to provide pet references and proof of vaccinations. Co-op boards sometimes require interviews to ensure the pet is socialized and well-trained. 

Due to rent reforms in 2019, it is illegal for a landlord to ask for more than one month’s rent as a security deposit. Effectively, that change ended the practice of charging an additional deposit for pets. Still, you may have a “pet rent” tacked on to your normal human rent, something that typically ranges from $35 to $50 per month. Other places may ask for a one-time fee between $250 to $500, though that can climb upwards of $1000 depending on the building. Note that any fees do not apply for service or emotional support dogs.

Your Corcoran agent can guide you toward pet-friendly buildings in your neighborhood of choice, or you can start your own search for pet-friendly homes for sale and rent.

2. Train Your Dog

Time required: 30 minutes to three hours per day.
Approximate costs for professional dog training: $50 to $120 per hour.

Any dog living in New York City requires basic training, as much for their sake as for your own. Untrained dogs may pull on their leash rather than walk by your side, jump onto people old and young, run away from you, or eat food off the sidewalk and counters. In a worst-case scenario, they could even bite people or other dogs! All of this can lead to unwanted stress for you, your neighbors, and your dog. Regardless of how cute your pup is, taking the time to train and socialize them will ensure a happy and stress-free relationship.

If adopting a puppy in need of house training, plan on working from home for the first week or so; to ensure the dog learns not to “go” while inside, you will have to bring them outside multiple times a day. Also, consider how much time and attention the teaching process will require and the impact on your home if you don’t teach your dog quickly. For some extra assistance, search YouTube for one of the myriad instructional videos on house training.

3. Get Outside!

Time Required: One to two hours per day.

Exercise needs vary by breed and size, but all dogs must get physical and mental stimulation every day. They may turn to destructive behaviors such as chewing up your couch or destroying your shoes without it. Plus, a little fun fact: Dogs physically tired from exercise are also easier to train.

A minimum of 30 minutes of exercise is recommended for dogs and humans alike, so a healthy and brisk walk or run will do you and your pooch good. However, your vet can tell you how much exercise is appropriate for your dog. Should you also want your pup to run free, make sure to budget enough time for traveling to and from the closest dog park—or a park that allows dogs off-leash before 9 AM and after 9 PM.

4. Find a Trusted Walker/Sitter

Approximate cost for walks: $15 to $45 per walk.
Approximate cost for sitting: $35 to $60 per day.
Approximate overnight costs: $40 to $100 per night.

While working from home is becoming more of a norm, who knows what kind of curveballs life could throw at you. No matter the reason, it’s good sense to have a dog walker or sitter you can rely on just in case. Luckily, an abundance of pet businesses and gig-economy apps can make finding that person easy.

For walks, options vary greatly: Some companies offer 45-minute runs with your dog, 15-minute walks, and everything in between. Costs depend upon the length of the outing and whether or not the walker is walking other dogs at that same time. Would-be sitters can have your pup over to their home for a little vacation or watch them at yours if that is what you’d prefer. Price will vary depending on, again, the length of time and the type of service you ultimately choose.

According to the American Kennel Club, french bulldogs are the most popular dog breed among New York City dog owners.

5. Follow the Law

Not even Fido is above the law in New York City—there are multiple dog rules and regulations you’ll need to follow:

1. Dogs must be registered and wear their dog license on their collar while in public. Licenses cost $8.50 per year for a dog that is spayed or neutered and $34 per year for one that is not. Start the application process here.
2. In public, a dog must be kept on a leash no longer than six feet.
3. Rabies shots are required annually, no exceptions.
4. Do not tie or chain up your dog. Doing so for more than three hours is illegal.
5. For the sake of community cleanliness and everyone’s footwear, humans must clean up after their dogs.

For further recommendations on responsible dog ownership, read up at the NYC Department of Health.

6. Vaccinate!

Approximate cost: $75 to $100 total.

Much like in human life, your dog needs to get vaccinated. Aside from the necessary rabies shot, you also need to worry about canine distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza, parvovirus, and bordetella. All of these canine diseases are preventable with vaccination and potentially deadly without. Planning to take your pup somewhere for boarding, training, or grooming? You’ll need to show proof of immunization against the conditions above. Places offering those services are sure to have other dogs running or sniffing around, and you wouldn’t want yours to catch or spread anything nasty. Definitely invest in preventative medications for heartworm—another scary condition transmitted through mosquito bites—as well as fleas and ticks too.

7. Embrace the Shed

Time required: One hour per week for cleaning floors and furniture.
Approximate cost: $45 for de-shedding and fur removal tools.

Falling in love with a dog can happen unexpectedly. One second you’re accompanying someone to an adoption event for moral support, and the next, you’re schlepping home a 50-pound bag of dry food along with your new best friend. 

Even if it’s not necessarily ideal, chances are that fresh furry face—and body—is going to shed all over your home. Hey, it happens; it’s a reality for the majority of dog owners. Recognize this before it’s too late and you’re swimming in discarded fur; know in advance that you will likely have some additional, regular vacuuming to do. No one likes extra chores, but they sure do beat furry floors. To really get ahead of things, grab helpful tools like de-shedding brushes and pet hair rollers as soon as possible. 

8. Life’s a Beach

It can be easy to forget when living here, but New York City has its fair share of beaches. However, for your dog to run free across the sand, you’ll have to take a short trip to Long Island. BringFido can be a reliable resource for your beach recommendation needs.

Leashed dogs are allowed at Rockaway Beach, Coney Island, Manhattan Beach, and more in the city, but only from October 2 to the Friday before Memorial Day. Check the NYC Parks website for more information and the complete list of beaches that are sometimes leashed dog-friendly.

9.  Ensure Your Dog is Insured

Time required: Two hours for research and registration.
Approximate cost: $50 per month.

Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye, and dog surgery costs can range upwards of hundreds to thousands of dollars. Unless you don’t mind shelling out because of a swallowed sock or other mishaps, consider investing in pet insurance that will handle most emergency care costs. Some dog breeds are susceptible to cancer, and 50% of dogs over the age of 10 develop it at some point. With proper cancer treatment, which can cost upwards of $10,000, many dogs do recover. If your pet is insured before diagnosis, most pet insurance companies will cover a portion of cancer care.

10. Adopt, Don’t Shop!

Between three and four million dogs enter animal shelters every year. Strongly consider helping a dog in need by adopting from one of them. There are several dog rescues throughout the five boroughs and surrounding areas you can contact to inquire about upcoming adoption events. Or, if you want to test the dog-owning waters, ask about volunteering or fostering opportunities.

With proper mental preparation and training (for both of you), having a dog in NYC can be the absolute best. While there will be surprises—including strangers coming up to ask, “aww, what’s their name”—there’s way more love and happiness that renders the unpredictable stuff as mere blips.


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