It has been a long year without beer gardens and garden cafes in the sunshine. We love a dog friendly pub or cafe and it is a great way to involve our pups in our fun, but how do we prepare our dogs for visiting public spaces like these?
Start the training at home
One of the first steps is to start training before you even step foot in a pub or cafe. By starting your training at home, you can ease your dog into the situation and it can be really beneficial for the both of you.
These places can be noisy, so how about playing tracks of general pub noise to introduce them to the generic sounds of your local? Start off at a low volume and build up whilst carrying on as normal throughout the sound. Your dog should just start thinking it’s a standard noise and as you are demonstrating it is not a concern to you, it is not a concern to them. An added benefit of playing these sounds is a feeling of nostalgia for us humans!
Toilet training is vital. Ensuring your dog is toilet trained before you enter any establishment will prevent a leg lifted on the corner of the bar. As this tends to put other pub goers off their grub.
Lastly, try not to feed dogs from the table at home, as they may then expect this when they’re out, from you and strangers! Discourage counter surfing at home too as the table next to yours may not appreciate a snout stealing a chip when you are in public.
At the pub/cafe
When it is finally time to take your pup for their first visit, you should consider starting initially with short visits. Large amounts of people and noise in one place can be quite unsettling to a dog if they are not used to it. If your dog seems a little unsettled, gently comfort them, but try not to over fuss them. Over fussing can have the negative effect of them thinking that them being unsettled is a good thing and being encouraged. By keeping calm and relaxed, and encouraging the same from them you and your pup are more likely to have a relaxing evening.
If you can, try to train your dog to settle. Alternatively, make sure you bring a treat or a toy so you can offer this to them before they start barking to distract their focus. Treats or toys can also be used to reward quiet, calm behaviour and entertain them while the grown ups are talking. A lot of pubs have a ‘3 barks and you're out rule’. It is meant in a light-hearted way, but if your dog is barking constantly when you go somewhere, the pub may ask you to leave.
Finally, it is important to bear in mind that not all pub visitors love our doggy pals as much as we do. Make sure your dog stays close to you and doesn’t join in with the family across, as they may not want an extra guest at the table. If your pup wants cuddles from willing pub goers, great! However, if they are not keen don’t force it on them. Not all dogs want fuss from strangers, and are happier snuggled up at your feet.
Even with the best intentions and training, not all dogs will love going into pubs and restaurants, and if your dog gets distressed it might just not be for them. Some days they might like it, other times they might just be overwhelmed by too many other dogs and people. If this is the case, then your dog may prefer to have a snooze at home while you go out for a short while. Your dog is an individual, so it’s important to make sure that their individual needs are satisfied.