Every dog lover smiles upon seeing a happy pooch parked outside a cafe or bistro with his owner, lying under a table or sitting on his own chair to smile at passers-by. But how do you get your own dog to behave himself calmly in a situation where food, people and possibly other dogs will distract him? The process of training a dog to accompany you to eat lunch or enjoy a cup of coffee in public starts with socialization and continues with consistent and positive training.
If you plan (as you should) to take your dog to public places with you, it’s essential that she is properly socialized as a puppy. Start as soon as your puppy’s vaccinations are complete. Expose her to as many different people, dogs, sights, sounds, smells and places as possible. Keep a puppy socialization log by writing down each new experience you have with your puppy.
Socialization is never “over,” but once you’ve logged at least 100 new experiences with your pup you can be fairly sure that she will be confident and not fearful or startled in most new situations. Continue exposing your dog to new things throughout her life in order to keep her well-socialized and capable of accompanying you anywhere that allows dogs.
Finding a Dog-Friendly Cafe
Not all neighborhood businesses welcome dogs on their patios. If you’re looking for a calm first cafe outing for your dog, try a stroll around the neighborhood and look for cafe patios where dogs are already enjoying an afternoon out with their owners. If there are dogs sunning on a patio, it’s a good bet the management is dog-friendly.
If you want to be extra safe, call ahead and say, “I’m planning to bring my dog with me to your establishment this afternoon. He’s well socialized but hasn’t gone out to eat with me before. Will that be all right? We’ll sit on the patio, of course.”
Your Dog’s First Outing
Keep your dog’s first cafe outing brief. Always have an exit strategy in mind in case a problem occurs. If possible, ask a friend to accompany you and your dog so that you will not have to leave the dog unsupervised while ordering or if you need to use the restroom. If you must go alone, choose an establishment where you’ll be able to see your dog through a window while you stand in line and place an order. Alternately, find a dog-friendly business with waiter service so that you don’t have to leave your table at all.