Not able to attend my café manners workshop at Boris & Horton on May 31? Worry not! My newest article, which you can read below or here at petguide.com, outlines a simple training technique to help your dog remain calmly by your side at the dog-friendly café. Because, let's be honest, facing the outside world is so much more tolerable when your dog is with you.
Still, going to the café is a doggie privilege, not a right. In a few simple steps, you can teach your pup to be polite in public. Take it from Beans and her friend Boris (pictured right): having polite café manners allows your dog to enjoy city life with you!
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A rude dog in a bustling restaurant environment is a nuisance to other patrons and potential danger to staff. If your dog can’t keep his paws to himself in public, suspend his café privileges until he’s mastered the following activity and gained more impulse control. (If your dog acts aggressively or fearfully in public, enlist the help of a force-free trainer using these guidelines.)
What You’ll Need
Practice at Home
Practice this numerous times, until your dog happily jumps on the mat and lies down as soon as you put it down. Once your dog gets the hang of it, you can add a verbal cue like “go to your mat” as you lay it on the floor.
At the Café
After practicing the sequence at home, you’re ready to test it out at the cafe. Set your dog up for success by choosing a time when the surroundings are relatively quiet. Same as before, lay the mat next to your chair and use your verbal cue (if you have one). Once he’s settled on the mat, give him the chewy.
As time goes on and your dog is consistently able to hang out quietly by your side, you can scale back on the rewards. Instead of a rawhide, bring a few treats and occasionally drop one on the mat for your dog. This will be enough to keep him invested in the mat at the intermediate stage. Over time, reduce the frequency of the treats, very gradually and almost imperceptibly. Keep in mind that staying calm in a bustling café is hard work for your dog, so be sufficiently generous with your rewards to ensure the experience is enjoyable for both of you every step of the way.
Kate Naito, CPDT-KA, MS, is an author and dog trainer with Doggie Academy in Brooklyn, NY.