By Cathy Brooks

Our marvelous city has a challenge that many others don’t. The original planning wasn’t urban. With influence from ranching and post-industrial design, the City of Las Vegas didn’t start with a densely populated, urban walkable core and expand into concentric rings of suburbia as so many other major U.S. cities did. It happened in reverse. Over the last 10 years, monumental growth across our valley has begun reversing the tides, and now we find ourselves experiencing life in a way that is increasingly more akin to a “typical” city.

This is an excellent thing. It is, however, also the catalyst for some genuine issues—specifically for dogs and their owners.

Suburban and rural dogs are notoriously poorly socialized. They live in homes on fenced properties. They may or may not ever go for walks around their neighborhood, instead spending time in their yards or being loaded into the car for hikes or trips to far away parks. They don’t encounter other dogs or any kinds of stimuli you see in a typical urban environment: skateboards, wheelchairs, bicycles, not to mention sirens, lots of traffic and thick crowds of people.

Under-socialized dogs and humans without urban dog handling experience do not cozy bedfellows make. In fact, gone to the extreme, a poorly socialized dog or a well-intentioned human without an understanding of urban dog etiquette can be a recipe for disaster. As our wonderful valley becomes more urbanized, there are things we need to know as responsible dog owners not only to keep our dogs happy and healthy, but also to keep them safe.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

1) Think like a dog:
It’s important to understand how dogs process information and experience the world if you want to communicate with them well.

2) Keep your eye on the dog:
It’s tempting to walk down the street chatting or on your mobile device. Not when walking with your dog. Focus. Be aware of your surroundings.

3) Get grounded:
In addition to being aware, be present.