I was in Buford yesterday working with a new Home Dog Training client and his Sheltie named Toby. The two big problems that my client mentioned at the start of our session were nipping and running out the front door. After our initial discussion of how Toby “sees the world” and how we need to respond, we jumped into his A-priorities. Toby quickly understood that his master didn’t approve of nipping and that he should stay away from the front door when it was open. My client was ecstatic over the results and the fact that he knew how to fix the problems himself. As we were going over the training documents and his homework assignment, he had one more question. He wanted to take Toby to places like Starbucks, sit, and have a nice and peaceful cup of coffee. He had tried this once or twice and things were just nuts. He was wondering if there were any quick tips I could leave him with until we met the next time.
I reminded my client that the key to a well behaved dog lay in his perception of safety, focus, and leadership. We had begun the process during the first lesson to build the appropriate relationship and bond within the secure boundaries of the house. It would take a little more time to enforce the consistency of his actions to assure that Toby respected and always focused on my client. When this was established, they would then be ready to socialize in public.
I continued to say that when Toby was great in the house, it would be simple to take him to public places like Starbucks or Riverwalk. The key is slow socialization through consistent actions and focused safety. The exercise that we would work on when the time was right was as follows:
- He should find a local Starbucks that has an outside seating area. This Starbucks shouldn’t be on an overly busy street.
- Find a time when the shop is closed and the rest of the area is relatively calm. Take Toby to the shop and sit outside with a cup of coffee (obviously, he would have to bring his own from home or swing by a Dunkin Donuts).
- Make sure that Toby has a toy or some distraction. Have him at his feet relaxing. Stay there for about twenty or thirty minutes and then take a short stroll up and down the street before getting in the car and going home.
- Repeat the “go to Starbucks when it is closed” routine for several days.
- He should then ask a few of his friends to meet them there and sit near, but night right next to him and Toby. They should make sounds and perform actions like normal patrons would routinely make.
- He needs to make sure that Toby keeps focus on him and does not lung or bark at his friends (disguised as patrons).
- He should continue this exercise for a few days, adding a few more friends each time.
- Now, he should bring Toby to Starbucks when the shop is open, but not terribly busy. They should sit in a location away from the main hustle and bustle, allowing Toby a clear view of the establishment.
- He should have his coffee and make sure Toby has something to keep him entertained. If Toby starts to become inappropriately focused on another patron or action, he needs to guide Toby back to him. If Toby becomes too agitated, it clearly indicates that the shop is too busy. He should end the exercise for the day and return at a quieter time to start again.
- As Toby shows he is comfortable (not jumping, barking, or inappropriately focused on patrons and other distractions), he should come at times of more activity.
- Repeat the above process until Toby is behaving at the time he would normally be there.
Even if he has concluded that Toby is a fine patron at Starbucks, I told my client that he should always be ready to leave. You never know when the place might become quickly crowded or another patron brings a misbehaved dog that agitates Toby. These extreme events could scare Toby and his best action is to reassure him that all is fine by simply removing him from the problem.
Please call us at (770) 718-7704 it you are in need of any dog training help. We have a lot of good dog training advice at Best Dog Trainers Buford Georgia. Find all our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Buford Georgia.