can I take my dog to a cafe

Do you make this mistake with your dog?

Want to take your shy dog to a cafe? You can! Follow the suggestions here and you can make it work, and really enjoy your family dog | FREE VIDEO COURSE | #problemdog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog, #puppysocialisation | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

I was sitting in a cafe with Coco Poodle lying beside me on his mat, calmly watching the other visitors, with a chew to engage him too. 

I’d chosen a quiet place out of the way of foot traffic. He couldn’t get trodden on, and I know that he also enjoys being able to see out of the big windows.

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At a table right in the middle of this cafe, a woman was reprimanding her small dog. He clearly felt uneasy with all the activity around him - people walking this way and that, almost treading on him - and was seeking security by trying to get onto her lap. 

“Get off!” “Down!” “No!” “Get down!!” she kept saying.

This did nothing to allay her dog’s anxiety, and her attention was simply fuelling his desire to climb up. 

Eventually he gave up. He was defeated and alone. He looked around him - worried - and sat.

And what did his owner say to this?

Absolutely nothing.

 

Want to take your shy dog to a cafe? You can! Follow the suggestions here and you can make it work, and really enjoy your family dog | FREE VIDEO COURSE | #problemdog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog, #puppysocialisation | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

Consider your dog's comfort too

I thought it very sad that she had no thought of why her dog was trying to jump on her. She was only concerned about what people may think. Her barrage of commands was a knee-jerk reaction to the dog’s paws on her lap. 

She then compounded her error by nagging the dog repeatedly - and when he eventually complied (more by luck than by judgment!) she ignored him.

I’ve no doubt that this lady’s a kind and friendly person who thought she was doing the right thing to get her dog to behave in public. But unfortunately many people have no idea how to achieve this except by using bossy methods.

Sadly she’d got it quite the wrong way round!

What you focus on is what you get.

Drawing attention to what she didn't want was making it more likely that that was what she was going to keep getting!

So what would have worked better?

*If she had responded to his fears and need for reassurance he would have settled sooner.

• If she had ignored his clambering attempts then responded to him warmly when he stopped she’d have had far greater success at keeping his feet on the floor. 

• And if she had realised that the middle of the cafe was not the best place for her nervous little dog and chosen a better place to sit,

• given him a mat or blanket or her coat to lie on,

• dished out treats freely for him being quiet and calm, 

• responded by reassuring him that the floor was a safe place to be,

• and had come prepared with a foodtoy or chew for him to focus on, 

it would have been better again.

 

It’s a very small change - just a switch from being reactive to being proactive.

 

But it will change your dog’s state of mind in an instant.

 

Lots more ways to become proactive and stop nagging your dog in our free 8-part email course!

Get your free email course to sort out lots of puppy problems

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I wish I could take my excitable dog on family outings!

Do you long to take your tricky dog on family outings? You can! Follow the suggestions here and you can make it work, and really enjoy your family dog | FREE EMAIL COURSE | Reactive dog, problem dog, fearful dog, dog behavior | #problemdog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

Yes! You can!

One of the reasons you got a family dog was the enticing thought of outings - to the pub, the cafe, the beach, forest parks … What could be nicer than enjoying a walk in beautiful scenery, and ending the visit in congenial surroundings with everyone tucking in to good food and drink?

But the reality arrived in your fluffy bundle of puppyness, and you soon discovered that your family dog had other ideas about how life should work!

So you may have a dog who’s ebullient, boisterous, loves everyone, and you feel you can’t inflict that on a pubful of people wanting a peaceful refreshment stop. 

Or maybe your dog is reactive - shy, anxious, “aggressive” - and struggles to be in the same space as strange people and - worse - their strange dogs.

Your ideas of family outings with your dog have been put on hold for an indefinite period, until … until what? Until he gets to age 11 and calms down a bit? Until he suddenly decides he’s no longer afraid of people and dogs? Until he’s able to pass a dog on the path without a meltdown?

You could be waiting a long time!

So let’s speed this up - a lot. 

A portable parking spot

One game all dogs should learn is how to relax on their mat. Once your dog knows that if the mat is on the floor, then he should be on it, calmly waiting for you to reward him for staying there, then you can consider going out to places.

For precise, step-by-step, instructions on how to achieve this, go to my Books page where you’ll find that a whole book on calming your dog down is free! Yes, really …

Want to take your dog on a picnic? Follow the suggestions here to prepare, and you can make it work, and really enjoy your family dog | FREE EMAIL COURSE | Reactive dog, problem dog, fearful dog, dog behavior | #problemdog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

I can’t tell you the number of students who have found this skill so useful - at home, when friends visit, in cafes, on trains, on buses, at training class, on holiday, at the shops, at friends’ houses, at the vet’s - the list is endless.

If you’re starting with a puppy, so much the better. This can all be part of her valuable socialisation program.

“We thought about delaying getting our new German Shepherd puppy because we had already arranged a short holiday with friends. Our breeder persuaded us that we shouldn’t wait and that a holiday was an ideal time to have our puppy bond with us. So we collected our 8 week old puppy and spent 2 weeks getting to know one another, then headed off with our friends by car and then ferry to the Isle of Skye. Before she was 11 weeks old, puppy Elva had been in the car, on a train, and on a ferry - and she took it all in her stride. People might worry about meeting enough people in the important socialisation phase in a puppy’s life but everywhere we went, she was a people-magnet with everyone wanting to pet her. She loved all the attention and we loved that she was interacting with so many people!

I’d had concerns about travelling with a puppy but we’d started crate training right away. Our travel crate was invaluable in the car and a great place for a tired puppy while we went out for dinner with our friends. By evening, she was more than happy to sleep quietly in her crate until we came back.”

Amanda and Elva, German Shepherd puppy

And Ellen travelled a lot with her Border Collie pup Selkie, even at only four months!

“The games have helped greatly with making puppy trips easier and laying the foundations of good communication. She's particularly great on her mat on buses, trains and in pubs!

 
Teaching your dog to lie on her mat is an invaluable skill for being able to go on family outings later | FREE VIDEO COURSE | Reactive dog, problem dog, fearful dog, dog behavior | #problemdog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

Mat is King!

So matwork will get you part of the way there - and may be all you need for your excitable dog. You also have to make life as easy as possible for your worried dog.

For this you need to work on techniques and strategies to help him adjust to our world - there are plenty here to get started on at Brilliant Family Dog

And the most important thing for your reactive dog is distance. So a good place to start would be an establishment with a large, open, garden where you can get away from other people and be out of their way. If you go to a crowded place and your dog surprises you by being “fine” with all the busyness, think again. It’s more likely that your dog is exhibiting a learned helplessness - he can’t escape, it’s all too stressful, so he shuts down and waits for it all to be over. 

So heading off on this type of outing can only be done when you know there’s a good chance that with all your preparatory training, your dog will be able to cope. 

Forward planning

Either way, you need to plan this trip! 

Here’s a wonderful example of just how effective this can be, from Kerina, one of the students on From Growly Dog to Confident Dog

“We had aimed to go to the pub today and had it planned out to the letter. If either of the dogs got too stressed we wouldn’t stay for lunch, just a drink. We plotted the route yesterday.

I was prepared, had packed toys for the dogs, frozen kongs, coolmat for Spud and blanket for Robin, water from home and some kibble and treats. We chose a table that was at the side, right by the river, and both dogs settled.”

Teaching your dog to lie on her mat is an invaluable skill for being able to go on family outings later | FREE VIDEO COURSE | Reactive dog, problem dog, fearful dog, dog behavior | #problemdog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com


Later the dogs enjoyed more of their river walk and a swim. They couldn’t have had such fun from the day without the thought Kerina and her sister put into it.

It didn’t take much to take all this stuff with them - think how much a toddler’s family has to pack for a couple of hours! - but it paid off many times over.

An important part of Kerina’s plan was to abort the trip if things weren’t going well. Always be ready to get out of Dodge. If your dog is stressed it’s not going to be much fun for any of you. And if your dog’s having an exciting walk, with lots of running and sniffing, be sure to factor in plenty of downtime. That’s when those prepared foodtoys and the mat come into their own. 

So get everything ready, do all the training first, plan a trip, plan your exit strategy, and enjoy the family outings you were so looking forward to when you decided to get a dog to share your life. 

Yes, it can happen.

 

 

 

You’ll find a week’s worth of tips for calm walks and outings here in this free Workshop!  

Check it out here