Dogs in The City? — a Talking Points lesson for English reading and speaking

This is a lesson plan for ESL about dogs in the city.

You can find a short article, followed by a table of essential vocabulary, then some questions.

This lesson is great for any ESL class or General English class. Also perfect for IELTS classes.

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below!




Are there many dogs where you live?

Where can the dogs go to play? Are there any parks or places where dogs can run around?

Do you think dogs should be allowed in the city? Why/why not?

Dogs in The City

Everyone knows a dog is man’s best friend.

But at what point do we have to decide where the boundary lies with that friendship?

It is quite normal to own a pet dog. People have been doing it for years, but many people live in big cities these days.

Some would argue that a big city is not the best environment for a dog.

There are strict laws about cleaning up after your dog does its business in the street. That said, many people forget to clean up after their dogs.

This could be very inconvenient, not to forget messy, if someone unfortunately steps in it.

But what if a young child were to discover this?

The after-effects could be more than just a little unhygienic.

Then there are the laws about dangerous dogs.

Of course, we should keep them off the streets to maintain social order and public safety. But other large dogs are more than capable of hurting someone — especially a young child.

Every year we read in the news of a child being bitten savagely by a big dog that appears to be unmonitored by its owner.

Dog mess on the sidewalk, big dogs terrorizing the neighbourhood…

Then there are the smaller issues of noise pollution.

Anyone who has lived next door to a dog that never stops barking, day in and day out, will understand this problem. There seems to be no let-up from it when all you want to do at the weekend is relax.

These are just a small selection of common complaints about dogs in the city, but what about the poor dogs themselves? How do they feel about it?

If we try to put ourselves in their minds for a day, then how would we feel about life as a dog in the city?

First, let’s consider the average day for a dog in the city.

He might be lucky and get taken out for a walk in the morning.

He might even get taken to the park. But if his owner is late for work or it’s raining or he overslept or any other dozens of excuses, then the dog has to wait until his master gets home again.

He might have a place to go to the toilet, but it’s nowhere near the same as marking your territory on a tree near your house.

And the waiting…

The master might be out of the house for up to ten hours. The poor dog hates this.

He needs company, needs attention, and needs to lavish attention on someone else. And all he has is a squeaky toy to play with.

That’s no fun at all.

And dogs love nature.

Chasing after birds and rabbits and squirrels — this is a dog’s idea of a great time. He may know he will never catch anything, especially those pesky rabbits, but it’s just the thrill of the chase he enjoys.

At the end of the day, life in a big city for a dog is no fun at all.

Should people not be allowed to have dogs in a big city?

Is the countryside the best place to keep a dog?

Reading Comprehension Questions

Are dogs and people good friends with each other?

Is it common for people to have a pet dog?

What is the first law that the article mentions about keeping a pet dog?

Do people always follow this law?

What could happen if a child steps or plays in this?

What does the article say about dangerous dogs?

Which people could be in danger from certain kinds of dogs?

Is it common for children to be attacked by dogs?

What is a minor problem caused by dogs?

Do dog owners always find time to take their dogs out for a walk?

According to the article, how long can a dog wait at home for his master to come back?

What do dogs love?

Name three animals dogs love to chase according to the article.

Essential Vocabulary




strict laws

to clean up









social order

public safety




dog mess


to terrorize


noise pollution

to bark

day in and day out

no let-up





it’s nowhere near the same

marking sb territory



to lavish




a great time

to catch



to enjoy

not allowed



Write down all the words and phrases in your vocabulary notebook. Look in your dictionary and find the meaning of each word. Write the definition next to each word.

Then make up your own sentences using each word or phrase.

For example:

Notebooka small book with pages of blank paper that students use to make notes when studying.

I left my notebook at home so I was unable to make any notes in my English class.”

Discussion Questions

Do you think it is fair to keep a dog in the city? Why/why not?

What other problems can you think of in owning a dog in the city?

Do any of your neighbours have dogs? Do these dogs cause problems in the neighbourhood? What should be done about it?

A dog is man’s best friend. What does this mean?

What does the writer mean about cleaning up after your dog’s business?

What are the after-effects of a small child finding the dog’s business?

What is a dangerous dog exactly? Are there laws about them in your town or city?

What about police dogs? Are these dogs allowed in the city? Why?

What about guide dogs?

Some old people — or people that live alone — say that their dog provides friendship and companionship. Are these kinds of dogs permitted in the city?

At what point do we draw the line in terms of dog ownership in the city?


Was this useful in your class? Tell me all about it in the comments below!


Download the full lesson plan right now.

Dogs In The City

2 thoughts on “Dogs in The City? — a Talking Points lesson for English reading and speaking”

  1. This is a, controversial topic. Opinions vary a lot, and many supporting topics can branch out of this one. This is great for conversation and discussion. In all cases I think the key word is RESPONSIBILITY. Dogs are not as independent as cats and if one has them as pets one must be as responsible for them as if they were children. Otherwise it is best not to have them in the city or in the country. It’s a hot topic!

    1. Thank you, Leona! Yes, it is a difficult topic. But I think that makes it a great topic to discuss in an ESL class. Thanks for your comment. Much appreciated.

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