Lots of people think about the joys of having a dog. Long country walks, a new best friend to share your food with and a nice relaxed Sunday lunch at the pub. However, more often than not, these behaviours are put to the test when it comes to real life. Taking your dog to the pub can be stressful. One moment they’re eating something off the floor, the next moment, a group of rugby fans start cheering at the tv and scare your little one – not to mention that staying still for so long can be frustrating when there is so much commotion!
It is surprisingly common for people who understand their dogs to decide to leave them behind when out socialising – and it doesn’t make you a bad owner! With over 70% of dogs experiencing some form of anxiety, the pubs and restaurants that we frequent can be stressful. Understanding your dog first is key. Imagine going to a brand new place, with such strong smells, tons of people wanting to chat to you and play with you, all whilst being expected to sit still? It’s tricky, right?
There is definitely a balance when it comes to taking your little (or big) one out and about. Reading your dog’s body language is the first step before we decide to do anything. Are they panting, yawning, pacing or showing any other signs of stress? If so, it might not be restlessness that is the issue. Bad experiences, overwhelming environments and a lack of desensitisation can all play a part in a dog not settling. But don’t fret, we have outlined our best method to enable your dog to relax in the pub.
(please remember that these tips are not for everyone. If your dog is showing extreme anxiety, fear or stress in these environments, it is probably best to leave them at home for the time being. Consult a qualified ‘force-free’ behaviourist to help your dogs)
Starting off at home is the key to setting your dog up for success. Make sure to stay consistent and patient with rewarding your dog when they do a great job!
When learning new behaviours, think of the 3 D’s – Distraction, Distance and Duration. Increasing these slowly as you work through this command will make it easier to translate to a real life setting!
Begin by taking your dog to pubs and restaurants on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. These days are much quieter than the rest of the week and give your dog an opportunity to understand the environment without all the usual commotion.
Above all, we’re big advocates of going at your dog’s pace whenever it comes to training. While some dogs will pick up behaviours super easily, they might take longer to adjust to more substantial changes and vice versa. Patience and understanding are key.
And don’t forget to be kind to yourself! There’s no rush to tick training off the list, the most important thing is that you and your dog can navigate their training journey with confidence.