Is my pup ready to be a dog about town?

Your dog is an important part of your family and it’s natural to want to bring them along. But it is important to remember that when you take your dog out to lunch or to a pet-friendly event, it needs to be fun for you, your dog, and the people around you. Before you and your dog venture out for your dinner date, make sure you can check all of these items off the list:

Your dog should be able to:

  • Walk politely on a leash
  • Not approach and stay calm while another dog walks by
  • Not approach and stay calm while a human walks by
  • Be able to greet a stranger politely
  • Settle quietly in public spaces
  • Be comfortable with new places and experiences
  • Follow basic obedience cues like
    • wait
    • down/settle
    • come
    • watch me

If your dog struggles with any of these behaviors, a dog-friendly outing is probably not a good fit for them right now.

The behaviors below are definite disqualifiers and should not be ignored. Some behaviors are best addressed with a certified trainer:

  • Barking or lunging at people or other dogs
  • Easily distracted and unable to focus and follow instructions
  • Have not received any basic training
  • Are anxious or fearful in new places or with new things
  • A history of biting or snapping at people or dogs
  • Are impolite or overly excited meeting new people or other dogs
  • Are not able to settle in a variety of environments

Safety, for you, your dog, and those around you, is always the #1 priority. If your dog is showing any of these behaviors or you just aren’t sure if your dog is ready, don’t just “give it a try”. That can be a terrible experience for you and your dog and can even do long-term damage. Try the things below instead:

Start slowly with short, simple trips.
If you aren’t able to take a short, peaceful walk around the block, that outing to the dog-friendly farmer’s market probably isn’t going to go well. Take your time to work on the basics in an easier environment like your own neighborhood or even just your own front yard before asking your dog to handle an environment with so many more challenges.

Spend time watching the world go by.
A lot of outings for our dogs are spent sitting and watching quietly as the world buzzes around them. Believe it or not, this is something that takes practice. Imagine taking a two-year-old human out and expecting them to settle quietly while you’re enjoying your drink. It is a lot to ask! Take some time to train and practice in a safe environment. Go to a quiet park, sit on a bench, or even just sit out on your front porch.

Work with a qualified trainer.
We all went to school. Our dogs need an education too! There is a lot to learn about human world and navigating it with grace takes time, patience, and practice. If any of the necessary skills listed above seem like a lot to expect from your dog right now, a qualified trainer can make all the difference. They can also help you determine what your dog is and is not ready for. If in doubt, listen to your dog and don’t push it. Start easy and build on your skills from there. A good trainer can show you how.

**Resources for finding a qualified trainer available below

Not every dog is cut out to go out.
For some dogs, spending time out in the world in close proximity to lots of people, other dogs, and a world full of the unexpected is just not their deal. And that’s ok! The world can be a scary and overwhelming place for some dogs and not every situation is a great fit for every dog. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of things you can do together. Know your dog and find the things that are peaceful and enjoyable for both or you. Letting your dog set the pace will set both of you up for success.

**When searching for a trainer, always make sure they are certified and insured. You can find qualified science-based trainers with recognized and respected certifications through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT), Pet Professionals Guild (PPG) and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC).

Are you looking for a qualified trainer? Your Dog-Friendly Consultant might also be able to help! Don’t hesitate to contact us if there is anything we can do for you.

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