One of the concerns that we have when we move from city to city is how our best friends will react to the move. When those best friends are our animals, we start worrying on how to organize their lives, their needs and our commitments.
Italy, and in particular northern Italy, is a perfect place to transfer with your animals. Laws throughout Italy promote the well-being of dogs even allowing them into restaurants and all types of stores, including food stores. Renting an apartment, the law will protect your right to keep an animal (beware of condominium regulations).
Having owned a boxer, who is a world traveller and who has lived in 4 major European cities – Paris, Toulouse, Barcelona and Milan – I can confirm she has told me that living in Milan is the best! Milan has an abundance of parks and if you go to the central park (the Giardini Pubblici), there is even an area where dogs are free to roam without being on a leash or behind a fence. The down side to this freedom is that your dog has to be well trained and well meaning – no barking, no untoward signs of affectionate behaviour towards other dogs and no jumping on humans or small dogs. Unfortunately, as an owner, you leave the dog park stressed, particularly if your dog is a large boxer, that has in their DNA, all the attributes of inappropriate behaviour. Your dog is like your child – you want it to excel and to be loved.
So, to have access to the more dog parks, you need to be concerned with teaching your dog proper manners. For example, when you go for a walk, you should not look like a drunken sailor as your dog pulls in one direction and you move in another. If your dog weighs around 100 lbs, they should not bark at a Chihuahuas. I assure you that if a passer-by notices this type of behaviour, you will not instill confidence that you are in control!
At this point, it is time to find a trainer. Dog trainers are great and they all act like “Cesar” of TV fame. However, their sole purpose is to actually train you, the owner! Your dog will be of course, perfect as the trainer demonstrates the walking technique, the sitting down technique, and the stop barking technique, but you know better. To find a good dog trainer, I would recommend visiting the park and where you will run into both dog walkers and dog trainers.
Dog Walker – you can pick them out because they are dressed casually and have multiple leashes on their body! Also, they are surrounded by various dogs of every size and they have a good rhythm when they are walking these animals. My first question when I interview them, on the jog, is to ask them how long they have been in this business. Do they have any extra time for “my” dog and finally; What is their favorite breed? If they say a Chihuahua, then I normally look for another dog walker. The going rate for a dog walker in Milan is € 10 to € 15 an hour.
Dog Trainers/Psychologists – The advantage of good dog trainers is that they not only teach your dog good habits but they also teach you, how to act like a responsible owner!
You can also find them in parks, and they also have leashes all over their body but generally, they are better dressed with a nonchalant way of dressing a la “zoo keeper”. Unlike dog walkers they normally walk with 1 dog and if more than one, it is of the same species. Their fees are normally based on a packet of lessons (at least four lessons) and each lesson will cost between € 30 to € 45.