I was with a new Home Dog Training client in Flowery Branch last Wednesday working with her and her two-year-old Australian Shepherd named Bingo. Bingo was a very active dog and loved to nip, herd, and run. Although that is what Aussies were bred to do, my client thought it best to minimize those traits. We spent several hours working with Bingo to have him understand that the most important thing he could do was to provide my client with respect and focus.
Bingo began to listen to my client and not run, nip, and herd. My client was thrilled with the results and excited to continue the program of ongoing, daily exercises. As we were finishing up for the day, I asked if there were any other issues we needed to address with Bingo. After a little thought, my client said she had one more thing (Remember Colombo?). Now that all the restaurants were opening up to in-person dining, she wanted to get out and about and enjoy her returned freedom. What could she do if she wanted to take Bingo with her to the restaurants?
We always assure our clients that it can be pretty easy to get their dog to be well behaved in public. They first have to understand that it can take longer if they normally frequent loud and crowded places instead of quiet and calm establishments. With that said, the process for creating a good dog in a loud or calmer environment is the same. We always suggest the following program of events:
To be clear, the intent of this training process is to slowly ease your dog into the public environment while you maintain your leadership role and your dog continues to look towards you for guidance and safety.
- First, you and your dog go to the restaurant when there is nobody there or the restaurant is closed. Sit off in a corner with your dog. Bring some food for yourself and your dog so you can emulate your actions as if the place was open. Repeat this for several days until your dog is used to the activity.
- Next, do what you just did, but bring a friend. Have your friend act like he is a waiter performing “serving duties”. Correct your dog if he starts to give your friend too much focus or he starts to get up. Keep doing this exercise on a daily basis until your dog is calm and collected with “the waiter” and the environment.
- It is now time to add more people, noise, and smells to your dog’s program. Go there when it is slow but there are people in the establishment. Sit away from the front door and where it is busy. Let the waiter or the restaurant people know when you enter the restaurant that you are training your dog to be a good canine patron. Tell them that they may see you correcting him when they are approaching the table.
- Have your meal and correct your dog if he starts to have too much focus on other patrons, waiters, etc. Continue this exercise until you see your dog is fine with everything going on in the restaurant. If you see that your dog is getting nervous and feel that he is becoming scared or timid, leave and try again tomorrow.
- When your dog is fine, repeat the above process, coming at times with more people and activity.
You need to understand that all dogs “have a limit” of what they will accept. Even though you may see dogs at a particular restaurant, the level of noise and distractions at that restaurant may be too intense for your dog. Even if your dog is fine, the restaurant’s “regular clientele” might not like dogs. The restaurant may not allow dogs. If it any of these situations exist, I am positive that you can find another restaurant that fits the basic needs of you and your dog enjoying a meal.
Please call Robin or me at (770) 718-7704 if you need any dog training help. We are blessed to have been your local dog training professionals for over sixteen years. We have trained over 5,000 great dogs and loving families and are ready to help you.