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Do you know proper pooch protocol? Toronto Animal Services teaching condo dwellers dog etiquette

City bringing education efforts into condo complexes to prevent elevator mishaps, lobby bathroom breaks
August 30, 2019
Lauren Pelley

Liberty Village is home to a few things. Lots of people. Lots of condos. And lots -- and lots -- of dogs.

Now, Toronto Animal Services (TAS) is hoping to educate the area's condo-dwellers about how to raise their four-legged companions in this kind of bustling high-rise neighbourhood.

"Just because there is so much shared space, and some of those spaces are really small -- like in the elevator," said Mary Lou Leiher, the program manager handling partnerships and marketing for Toronto Animal Services.

The city department is hoping to roll out the condo educational campaign in a variety of neighbourhoods. The first stop was CityPlace, and a booth will be set up Monday afternoon in the Liberty Village off-leash area, with more spots to come, according to Leiher.

Most dog owners, she added, are responsible. But the department does get complaints.

"The soiling in the shared areas, that's not a pleasant issue," she said. "And it does happen."

Leiher said the campaign will focus on ensuring owners understand the demands of raising a dog, and particularly puppies, in tall buildings where accessing bathroom space can involve a long elevator trip. She said "pee pads" --  absorbent pads that owners can put on the floor for their pooches to pee on -- can work for smaller dogs, while larger ones often need to learn to hold it for those treks down to the ground.

"We're always concerned about safety, and making sure dogs aren't biting people," she added.

'We all do a pretty good job'

In tight condo spaces, Leiher said owners need to keep an eye on their dogs instead of engaging in conversation or playing with their phones.

"An accident can happen, and what we find is that people don't think that's going to happen," she said.

Indeed, most dog owners CBC Toronto spoke to aren't too worried about their pups' behaviour.

"For the most part, we all do a pretty good job at the same time, anything that helps the community is a good thing for us," said Liberty Village resident Simon Payne, who owns a black cocker spaniel named Charlie.

"Everybody around here is super friendly with their dogs," echoed fellow owner Martin Wojcianiek, whose bulldog mix is named Cobe.

Resident Evens Belleus owns a Staffordshire bull terrier mix, and said he socialized Six -- named for Toronto's nickname and for being the sixth in the litter -- from the get-go.

"Not everybody's a dog person," he acknowledged, adding, "there's bad owners, there's good owners."