Shortly after we brought our 8-week old puppy, Gant, home, we were told we needed to socialize him as much as possible. Not only should he interact with other dogs (once he was properly vaccinated), he needed to be exposed to various environments – out at a restaurant, inside a dog-friendly store, in the car, or any place that had a lot of people. This would get him comfortable with different situations, types of people, and noises. It is important for a dog to be able to acclimate to their surroundings.
Since then, we have taken him on cross-country road trips, restaurants, shopping in our local downtown, and many dog-friendly establishments. He loves being with us and we enjoy our outing without having to worry about leaving him at home.
Gant ready to embark on our cross-country road trip (He’s in the back seat)!
He loves people, plays with all types of dogs, and is a great traveler. However, when he is attached to a leash, he is more reactive, and doesn’t like dogs invading his personal space. Not every dog wants to come in contact every time one approaches, nor should they feel obligated or forced to have an introduction.
If you’re like me, you always want to be around your dog, and would love to take them everywhere you go. But is it always a good idea? Sometimes, it’s better for you and the dog to be in his safety zone: home. Here are some questions to ask yourself before you consider taking Fido to your favorite Italian restaurant.
Gant and I at an outdoor, dog-friendly brewery.
- Where are you going? Are you headed to your favorite park? Restaurant in the city? The beach? Think about the space. Can you imagine your dog there? If yes, bring him! If the thought of them being in that environment sounds stressful, leave them at home.
- Is the location full of people or serene and quiet? Is there a constant stream of noise (cars, people talking, other dogs, etc.)? Can they handle a lot of noise? Do they get anxious easily? If the answer is yes, don’t stress out you and your dog by taking them to a loud environment.
- How long are you going to be gone? Are you out for 2 hours? 6? Pretty much the whole day? If you’re headed to dinner, and you’ll be back in a couple of hours, it may be easier to keep them home. Gone all day? Take him if you think your dog can go everywhere you’re going.
- Which goes to my next question: Is the location dog-friendly? Is your favorite deli dog-friendly or have an outdoor patio? If going shopping, can you take your dog into the stores? Do some research on sites like Yelp, which lists whether or not establishments are dog-friendly, or call and make sure they can accommodate you and your pooch.
- Can you be attentive at all times? If your dog is reactive when it comes to other dogs, can you always be alert and handle them if a dog approaches?
- What’s the temperature outside? This is really important! If it’s extremely cold, let them cuddle with their favorite blanket at home. Sweating from the heat? Your dog is probably sweating too. A lot of dogs, especially breeds with small snouts like Boston Terriers and Pugs, cannot breathe very well in extreme climates. If you know your dog can’t handle the weather, keep them at home!
- Are you able to control your dog? Do they listen to your commands? Walk calmly past other dogs? Bark a lot? Think about how well they listen to you on a daily basis. If you’re able to get their attention quickly when a situation arises, your outing will be more enjoyable for both of you.
- Respect other dogs and their owner’s personal space. As I previously mentioned, my dog does really well in public, but does not like other dogs invading his personal space if he is on a leash. From what I have read, this is because they are not able to defend themselves because they are restrained. If your dog loves interacting with other dogs, be sure to ask the owner first if you can approach them. They may say no, and if they do, respect their answer and continue on with your day.
- DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, leave your dog tied outside, in the car, or in one of those new “Dog Parker” boxes, a new concept where dog owners can leave their pooches in a tiny box for up to three hours. When it’s hot, your dog can overheat, if it’s cold, they can develop hypothermia. Would you want to be left alone in a tiny box? I bet the answer is no.
- (Last but not least) – When in doubt, leave them at home! If you’re not taking your dog on a walk, the dog park, or somewhere they can easily enjoy some exercise, let them be safe in your climate-controlled home. Enjoy your favorite bar or shopping mall without worrying about what to do with Spot. And if you’re gone for a while, get someone to check in periodically.
I hope this guide is helpful! If you have other tips and tricks, please comment below!
*Disclaimer: The following questions, tips and tricks are based on my own research, working with trainers, and experience with a variety of dogs. I am not nor do I claim to be an expert. I understand there are many dogs who cannot be around other dogs, humans, or be in certain places. Enjoy this guide as a resource and use your best judgement.