Robin and I were at a new Home Dog Training session in Lawrenceville last Thursday working with the family and their twenty-month-old Goldendoodle named Shilo. All things considered, Shilo was generally a good doggie. With that said, he did have an issue stemming from the fact that he was never given boundaries when he was younger. On top of that, he was never clearly taught to listen to the family and provide them with focus when requested.
After a few hours, we had demonstrated to Shilo that to be a good member of the family, he needed to listen, respect, and focus on our client’s requests. All the annoying things that he did such as jumping, stealing, barking, and running out the front door were now a thing of the past. Our clients were thrilled at how obvious and straightforward the entire process was to put into place. As Robin and I were winding down the lesson for the day, Shilo’s “mother” had one more question for us.
She told us that she really wants to take Shilo to a restaurant, but she is not sure how he will react in such an environment. She loved all the local restaurants that the family often frequents and doesn’t want to be thrown out because Shilo has caused a scene and made a mess. She asked for any advice and training tips we could provide so that “everyone can go out to eat in peace”.
We started off by telling her that it is crucial that she slowly socialize Shilo to every location the family and Shilo may wish to go. This means that she must socialize him with every restaurant she, her family, and Shilo wish to frequent. Lucky for her, we have an excellent dog training exercise program designed to make Shilo welcome at any of their family’s favorite dining establishments:
- The first thing you must do is to telephone the restaurant to make sure they will allow dogs in their establishment. Many establishments with outdoor seating areas will allow dogs, but it is always better to first confirm this.
- She should start to take Shilo for more and more car rides. She should vary the length of the rides and the routes of the trips. This will get Shilo comfortable in the car and an “experienced automobile passenger”. As a point of safety, Shilo should always be safely secured with a doggie seatbelt or in a crate while traveling in the car.
- Start taking Shilo to the restaurant when it is closed. Locate an outside spot and sit at a table that is not directly on a “busy path” and away from the main entrance of the restaurant. Have Shilo on a six-foot leash.
- Bring along some snacks or a drink for yourself. Also have some goodies and tasty treats for Shilo. Stay there for about fifteen to thirty minutes while you have your snacks and Shilo has his goodies.
- If Shilo gets up or starts to misbehave, give the leash a tug while you guide him back to you at the table. After about fifteen to thirty minutes, pick everything up and go home.
- Repeat this exercise every day for about a week. Once you see that Shilo is calm in the car and has no problem walking into the (empty) restaurant, sit at the table, have some goodies and see you have some goodies, and then calmly leave, you can move on to the next level. If this takes longer than a week, that is fine too.
- It is now time to ramp it up and introduce Shilo to the restaurant when it is open. Take him during “an off time” when there is a very light crowd. Late morning or in the middle of the afternoon are probably the best times to work on this part of the lesson. Make sure he has some toys to play with and goodies to maintain his calm focus. Order something and carefully watch Shilo when your waiter brings your food. If Shilo starts to place too much focus on your waiter as she approaches with your food, discretely and calmly correct him.
- Do not permit other patrons to approach and pet Shilo. This could make Shilo excited and cause him to bark or jump. You do not want this to happen. Continue this portion of the training for a week or so until Shilo is calm in the restaurant when there are not a lot of people there.
- Congratulations, you are now ready to bring Shilo to your restaurant at the time you would normally be there. Just repeat everything you were doing earlier. We still highly suggest that you don’t allow other patrons to come up to Shilo while you are in the restaurant. If people want to meet and play with him, do it outside of the “constrained environment” of the restaurant.
By following this exercise, Shilo will become a great restaurant patron. The more you and he go to the restaurant, the more familiar he will become with the surroundings and the safer he will feel while being there. These are all good things for Shilo and your relationship with him.
Please call or text us at (770) 718-7704 if you need any dog training help. You can also email us at [email protected]. We are blessed to have been your local dog training experts for over eighteen years. We have trained over 6,000 wonderful dogs and excellent families and are ready to help you.