Too frequently I brag to people about my amazing dog, but Gatsby really does deserve the praise and recognition. For a dog who was given up to Anti Cruelty Society at 6 months of age, he has blossomed into a dog that acts as a role model for city dogs everywhere.
The key to Gatsby's success as a city dog does not come from his ability to sit, lie down, roll over, give high five, or jump up at trees on command. Gatsby is a well-adjusted urban dog because I taught him the importance of WAIT beginning on day one.
It began with making him wait on the sidewalk 30 feet before our building at the end of a walk while I walked ahead to our courtyard, and it grew to being able to have him sit on the sidewalk and allow me to disappear around the corner out of sight without him freaking out to come and find me.
While Gatsby is quietly waiting, he can ignore people who try to talk to him and even passing dogs. I admit that Gatsby pulls on the leash and is not always perfect, but he deserves a lot of credit for being able to overcome his biggest instinct to run, chase and hunt when I tell him he must.
Start by teaching your dog to wait quietly indoors on a designated space that is clearly different from the area around it. Use an open crate, a rug, a blanket or even a chair. Ask your dog to wait/stay in that exact spot for 30 minutes. If he moves at all, reprimand him and return him to the exact location asking him to wait again. After 30 minutes, release your dog and make it very exciting (aka give him a treat) when he comes bounding to your side. Practice this exercise once daily, and you will soon see that your dog's ability to stand, sit or lie down where you put him will last longer and longer. He will also become more interested to coming when you call him because of this exciting "game". When you're ready, start practicing the same game outside using a 30-foot leash.
It takes patience and consistency, but a dog who can wait quietly in one spot until you release him will ultimately be a safer city dog able to ignore distractions unless you authorize him to check them out.
Growing up in the country in Pennsylvania gave me tons of experience with animals from a very early age. I later pursued a career in horseback riding and also have experience as a veterinary technician. I have a strong passion for animals and have an uncanny ability to connect with all sorts of furry friends.