Wouldn’t it be great if you could enjoy a meal out with your dog nestling at your feet? Zoe shares some pub dog training tips that will ensure that you and your pet feel confident and settled in pubs, cafes and dog friendly restaurants.
When you first thought about welcoming a dog into the family, I’m sure that you had dreams of wonderful walks together, being able to take your pet almost everywhere you went and being complimented on your beautiful doggy. Most of us have that dream, but sadly, not everyone achieves it.
Dogs behaving badly in the pub
Dogs, like children, are not born knowing how to behave in every situation, and, whilst some of them take to being pub dogs almost instinctively, some doggy characters need to be taught how to settle, how to ignore distractions and how to curtail their enthusiasm.
There are the “gregarious greeters” who want to play with every human and dog they meet. It’s great to have a friendly dog, but if they can’t sit still in the pub while you enjoy a meal, that can become a nuisance.
Then we have the “pub singers” who bark, whine and yap - either because they want to get on the move, or because they expect you to share your steak with them.
Some nervous or anxious dogs put their owners nerves on edge by trying to repel all boarders. Grumbling at other dogs and people as they pass by. You can’t possibly relax if you feel as though your dog may cause a nasty incident.
Don’t forget the enthusiastic eaters who think nothing of lunging across the room to hoover up a dropped chip 3 tables away from you.
In my career as a dog trainer and dog behaviourist, I’ve encountered hundreds of doggy behaviours that curtail their owners’ lifestyles. And in most cases, I’ve managed to help dogs and humans to overcome their worries and enjoy their life together.
Pub dog training tips
The first step in pub dog training is to avoid taking your dog the pub (or the cafe, coffee shop etc) for the time being. In the mean time, We’re going to train some behaviours that will help you dog settle anywhere.
The second step, is to prepare yourself for the training and for your first pub visit with your pet.
Preparing for pub dog training
Taking your dog out for a meal feels like quite an adventure - especially if you’ve had embarrassing experiences in the past. So I want you to imagine how it SHOULD be. What will you do? How do you want your dog to behave?
Your first action will likely be to do some research and to find a suitable pub/cafe. It needs to be dog friendly but how is it laid out? Are dogs welcome everywhere in the building or is there a specific area for them? What potential challenges will you and your dog encounter? Other dogs? Tight spaces? Needing to walk quite closely to other people to find your seat?
For your first adventure - I highly recommend a test visit without your dog so that you can sample the full experience before you introduce your pet. Decide where the best place to sit will be, and ask if you can reserve that particular spot for when you come back again.
Now think about what you might need for your dog. Honestly - it’s just like taking a toddler out with you. Drink, bowl, snacks, toys, blanket, poo bags …..and a bag to put them all in. If you’re planning a pub walk, you might want to add a doggy first aid kit into the mix.
Training your dog
As well as thinking about what you want your dog to do in the pub - you need to think about what you DON’T want them to do. In fact, in this case, the don’ts are more important than the do’s.
So you don’t want them to drag you into the pub, pulling on the lead, huffing and puffing and potentially knocking into anyone.
Ideally, there’ll be no jumping up, no interacting with other dogs (grumbling OR rough play), no stealing food and no behaviour that anyone else in the pub could perceive as unsociable. Remember - not everyone loves dogs as much as you do - and that goes for canine pub goers as well as human.
Dog’s don’t really understand the word ‘no’ - a more effective way of training them is to give them something else to do instead….in other words, teach an alternative behaviour. So instead of lunging for that discarded chip - chill out with your tasty chew bone. Rather than jump up with your wet paws to greet the lady in the white trousers - sit calmly and hope she bends down to speak to you.
What we’re talking about here, is what dog trainers call impulse control. Teaching your pet to think before they do something you’ll regret and then rewarding them for making a good decision.
The first stage of impulse control is to teach your pet to stay focussed on you and to respond instantly to a simple cue like the hand touch. That’s where you present your pet with an open hand and the dog responds by touching your hand with his or her nose. It’s an incredibly useful tool and is really subtle as well. You won’t be drawing attention to yourself when you use it.
Teaching your dog to settle
Another thing to teach your dog before you hit the pub, is to settle on a mat. Choose a nice, foldable, easily portable mat for this. I find that microfibre towels are great. They’re small and light and not at all onerous to carry in your rucksack while walking. Plus they’re perfect for soggy doggies to sit on and can be thrown in the washing machine when you get home.
You can “shape” a nice settle at home. Lay the mat on the ground and reward your pet every time he or she steps on it. Once they work out that “mat = good” you can ask them to have all 4 paws on the mat before they get their reward, As time goes on, develop 4 paws into a “sit”, then into a “down” and then start extending the amount of time they are laying down before the reward appears. Dogs learn quickly. It won’t be long until they are happily lying on the mat and snoozing at home. It’s very easy to then ask for the same behaviour in a different place - the garden, the coffee shop, the pub…..
I talk about the hand touch, the settle and many other training techniques in my online pub dog training course. Follow the link at the end of this article.
Your first pub dog adventure
Your pet may well surprise you with how confident and settled they are in the pub. But you must be ready for anything. More importantly, you must feel confident that you are ready for anything.
Do your research, request a table where you feel there are fewest distractions for your pet. Make sure you have everything your pet might need. A settle mat, a chew or a fully loaded licky mat to keep them busy, some high value treats (cooked chicken is a good one) and a water bowl.
Take a walk first - that way your dog can get the twinkle out of his toes, go to the toilet and have a good old sniff around to wear his or her brain out.
Go straight to your seat in the pub - walking confidently and not stopping to faff about or chat. That way you’re letting your pet know that everything is fine with you and that you are in control of the situation. Spread out the settle mat, reassure your pet without getting them all excited, present them with the chewy bone/distraction toy and then relax and enjoy the whole experience.
Afterwards you can evaluate the experience - what went well? what could you have done differently? where are the gaps in your dog’s knowledge? What areas of training need a little more work?
Online Pub Dog Training
My online pub dog training course has garnered a lot of press attention and has been featured on BBC Radio Suffolk, in the East Anglian Daily Times, Your Dog Magazine, and on the K9 Nation App.
I’ve also had a lot of positive feedback from clients who like the easy training techniques, the convenience of being able to access training anywhere and any time and the support from myself and my team of dog trainers.
Patsy is a 3 year old labrador who is not at all confident at meeting new people or dogs. She’s building up to a pub meal by going for coffee and cake at an outdoor cafe. Her Mum is helping to boost Patsy’s confidence by asking people to give her lots of space.
Want to know more about preparing your dog for a meal out together? Click here for pub dog training course details. https://www.bestbehaviourdogtraining.co.uk/dogversity/pub-dog-training/
Ready for a pub walk? Here are some suggestions for pub dog walks in Suffolk