How to Make it as a Dog Owner in New York City

A dog owner with her furry companion on the steps of a building in New York City.

With more than 600,000 pups happily wagging and drooling within the city limits, there’s no question that New York City is a dog-loving city.

Even in the dead of winter, if you take a step outside your apartment you’ll see at least three pups bundled up and barking joyfully down the street. We take them everywhere: on a run to the park, to work, errands, you may even sit across from someone’s furry pal on the subway.

But being a good dog parent in a busy city is also a challenge. We play as hard as we work in the city that never sleeps, and sometimes that doesn’t leave much time left over. So if you’re thinking of bringing a dog into your life, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Related: Where New York Dogs Go for Faux Hawks, Fur Dyeing and Everything in Between


Before you adopt a dog, take a long, hard look at how much time you’re willing to spend on them. Unlike cats, who generally don’t need as much affection and cuddling, dogs are definitely into people. If you work long hours, like to go out for happy hours after work (and who doesn’t!), or travel a lot for work, really take a moment to stop and consider the effect this will have on Fluffy.

How to get around it: The tried and true New Yorker method is to hire a dog walker or to enroll your pooch in doggy day care. If these methods seem economically daunting, consider asking a friendly roommate (they do exist!) if they’d mind walking the dog if you’re not home or working out a schedule with similarly pet-inclined neighbor. 


Between rising real-estate costs and MetroCard fare hikes, living in this city is undoubtedly expensive. So is having a dog! According to the ASPCA, the average expected cost for a small dog is about $210 a year for an annual vet visit alone. This doesn’t take into account the cost of food, grooming, dog walking or any unexpected vet visits

How to get around it: Generally speaking, smaller dogs’ annual vet bills are cheaper than bigger dogs’. Other things to keep in mind: Mixed breeds tend to have fewer health problems than purebred dogs. You could also look into dog insurance. You’ll have to do a little digging to find the plan that best suits your pup’s needs, but the ASPCA gives you a good place to start. 

Related: A Photographer Has a New Twist on New York Fashion Week: Dog Models


In some apartments in NYC, it seems like your bedroom is barely larger than your closet. This can be rough on high-energy pups that are cooped up all day – or big dogs who need some room to stretch their long legs.

How to get around it: One of the most important decisions you’ll make is picking a breed that is compatible with your life style. If you’re an active sort of person — a runner, for example — a young, energetic dog will be a great match. Just take them on the run with you!

If you’re less active, though, an older, calmer breed is probably better suited to your lifestyle.

If you’re not so active but you just got to have a puppy, consider looking into one of NYC’s many dog runs. You can sit there with a coffee and a good book while your fur-baby gets all her pent-up energy out by socializing with the other neighborhood rascals.

There’s no doubt that deciding to become a New York City dog owner requires some changes but with a little research and some well-informed choices, you too can join the be-dogged ranks!

Related: This New York City Store Is the First to Stock Hemp-Derived Dog Treats

Image via Flickr/Adrian Cabrero



By Christina Tesoro

Christina Tesoro lives and writes in New York City with her mischievous Min Pin mix, Nela. She has also written for The Toast and Quantum Fairy Tales.

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