If you feel guilty leaving your precious pup at home, there are plenty of places where she can tag along. Whether you’re going about your daily routine or traveling somewhere new, you can take your canine along for the ride with a bit of etiquette training.
Today, pets are considered four-legged members of the family. More retailers, hotels and restaurants are becoming dog-friendly places that want to accommodate their pet-owning clientele.
Places to Take Your Dog Along With You
To ensure that dog-friendly places remain enjoyable for all patrons, pet parents need to be mindful and follow proper pet etiquette. Here are just a few places to take your dog and tips for navigating these public places.
1. The Dog Park
Dog parks and dog-friendly beaches give dogs a place to exercise, socialize with other dogs and roam leash-free. They’re also a great option for pet parents looking for dog-friendly places to hang out and meet other pet parents.
Dog park etiquette starts with making sure your pup is healthy enough to be around other dogs. It’s important to keep your dog up-to-date on their vaccines so that they’re protected from illnesses like rabies, parvovirus and distemper. Flea and tick control medications are also important because they will help prevent your canine from attracting nasty pests. You should also talk to your veterinarian about heartworm prevention, which is an important part of protecting your dog’s overall health and wellness. Avoid taking your dog out to dog-friendly places if they are sick, fighting off an infection or not up-to-date on their vaccinations, flea and tick prevention, or heartworm prevention.
The dog park can be overwhelming for a dog who is naturally shy or anxious. “Dogs under 6 months old, under-socialized dogs and fearful dogs should skip out on the dog park,” says Journey Dog Training head trainer and associate certified dog behavior consultant, Kayla Frat. “Tiny dogs should steer clear unless there’s a small dog area.”
If your dog suffers from anxiety around other pets, she might growl, bark, snarl, snap or lunge at other dogs to drive them away. It’s important to work out your dog’s behavioral issues before bringing them into contact with new dogs. “If you’re heading into off-leash adventures, make sure your dog has a solid recall, especially with distractions,” suggests Joan Hunter Mayer, certified dog trainer and owner of The Inquisitive Canine. You will want to make sure that you can call them away from potentially stressful or dangerous situations.
Lastly, don’t forget to pick up after your pooch. A portable dog poop bag dispenser is an easy way to make sure you’re always prepared for messes while out with your pup.
2. Pet-Friendly Retailers
Dog-friendly retailers and boutiques make shopping with your pup easier. “You never know who will allow dogs—sometimes places that aren’t usually dog-friendly will have special events when they are willing to open their doors to their canine friends,” suggests Mayer. “The best thing to do is to contact the location you want to visit ahead of time.”
When shopping with your curious canine, keep her by your side on a short leash with a martingale dog collar to prevent escape. If she starts to get distracted, call her name to bring her attention back to you. You may want to bring a few treats to reward her when she displays good behavior.
“It’s a win/win for both the pup, and fearful people, that you have things in control and that your dog is well-behaved,” says professional dog trainer Alexandra Allred. “Etiquette is so important in social settings—from jumping, barking and pulling on the lead to not yelling.”
3. Pet-Friendly Hotels
Your dog deserves a vacation too. The number of hotels that accept pets is growing each year, and many of these pet-friendly hotels offer special services for guests with pets. These services can include a welcome treat, doggy daycare and walking services.
Proper hotel pet etiquette starts with research. Look for areas with plenty of activities for you and your dog. If you need some alone time without your pooch, make sure there’s a nearby kennel or doggy daycare. Check the hotel’s pet policy before booking your stay, because you don’t want to show up and have your pet turned away.
Many hotels charge an additional fee for pets, but that doesn’t cover damages. Hotels also usually have rules about not leaving your pet alone in your room. It’s also easier on your pup to take them with you or arrange for a pet sitter or walker to care for them while you are out, especially if they tend to be anxious in new environments. A dog’s anxiety is heightened in new scenarios, and leaving them alone could cause them to act out. You do not want them to cause damage to the room or harm themselves or someone else, so it is best to keep them with you.
For anxious dogs, it’s important to plan ahead. Pack calming aids like behavioral treats, their favorite dog toys and a ThunderShirt. Having familiar toys can be particularly beneficial because they smell of home and provide a sense of familiarity and comfort. You can also bring your pup’s bed or blanket with you—she’ll feel more comfortable in her own bed.
4. Dog-Friendly Restaurants
You’d be surprised at how many dog-friendly bars and restaurants there are in your area. However, “dog-friendly” ranges from place to place. Some restaurants will allow dogs as long as patrons dine outside, while others go as far as to provide pet treats and water bowls. Check online or call ahead if you’re not sure about a restaurant’s pet policy.
A restaurant or bar may not be the ideal place to bring your pup if they’re not comfortable in busy, social environments. If your canine is overly fearful or excited around people or other animals, it is probably best to find a calmer, less populated destination, like a hiking trail.
When dining out with your dog, it’s important to keep her occupied. Bring her favorite chew or dog treats to keep her distracted while you dine. Don’t tie your dog’s leash to the table, as this could lead to multiple disasters and quite a big mess.
5. Special Events
Pet-focused special events occur throughout the year across the country. Whether it’s a pet fashion show or a charity event, take advantage of pet-friendly events as a fun way to spend time with your dog.
Pet-friendly events are great for pet parents who like mingling with other pet owners. It’s a great way for you and your pup to make new friends. It is important to remember that while the crowd at these events may be more forgiving than typical public places, pet etiquette is still important.
Many of the same rules apply. “A well-mannered dog is a welcomed dog—more often than not. Teach your dog to greet people politely, walk nicely on leash and to be quiet around various triggers such as loud noises,” advises Mayer. “Take the time to teach your dog life skills so you can be proud when you take them out.”
Playtime can extend beyond the home when you and your pet exercise proper pet etiquette. Take the time to find dog-friendly places you both can enjoy, and make sure you practice ample patience while training your pup to engage in good manners.
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