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Most of us as dog parents want to take our dogs everywhere we go. And that includes public spaces where it's very easy for your dog's behavior to go from calm behavior to overly excited in an instant. So what do you do?
It's time to start training your dog to stay calm in public. If your excitable dog jumps with the thrill of seeing new people or your anxious dog barks at loud noises, whether you feel you need to calm down an occasionally hyperactive dog or build confidence in a sometimes fearful dog, these 3 guides give you the tools to assess your dog and build skills for public manners together so your dog can go with you anywhere he/she is comfortable going.
In these 3 guides on teaching your dog to be comfortable and calm in public places in the Manners Channel, you'll learn:
- 9 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Taking Your Dog to Public Places
- How to Teach Your Dog to Settle Anywhere
- How to Help Your Dog Calm Down Outside
Here's a quick look at the 3 guides to help you set your dog up for success and keep your dog calm in public situations...
Dog Public Manners Guide 1: 9 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Taking Your Dog to Public Places
All of us dream of taking our dogs with us everywhere, right? But does your dog share the same dream... and do all, some, or none of the environments fit your dog's idea of a comfortable place to be by your side?
In this guide, certified positive reinforcement dog trainer and Dogly Advocate Melissa Dallier tackles these questions and more, and gives you tools to determine what's right for your dog and how to help your dog feel secure and happy out and about with you.
What you'll learn in this dog training guide:
Melissa shares 9 questions to ask yourself to prep for developing a plan to give you and your dog skills to enjoy public activities stress-free.
Question 1: Does your dog enjoy being around new people?
Includes keys in assessing your dog and why the optimal level of people enjoyment is neutral to good.
Question 2: Does your dog enjoy being around new dogs?
Melissa explains why it's best to practice helping your dog be comfortable with new dogs/people before heading out to public places. (Which you'll learn how to do in the next two guides in Public Manners.)
Question 3: Does your dog adjust well to loud noises or sudden environmental changes?
Melissa talks about how the layering of surprising sounds, new dogs arriving, etc can become stress triggers even for dogs who aren't normally anxious about any of these things separately.
Question 4: Does your dog share resources well, such as food/water/space/you, with unknown people and dogs?
When you think about the resources that might be worth guarding in an outdoor cafe, for example, (a bowl of water, toy, bone, you), if you're not confident your dog won't react, you'll learn why and how you want to work with your dog before going public.
The other 5 questions are for you...
Question 5: Am I willing to put in training time to help my dog succeed in public environments?
Includes realistic advice that, for most dogs, a relaxed presence with good manners doesn't come without pre-work... and how to go about working with your dog to get there.
Question 6: Am I willing to prioritize my dog's comfort over mine?
Includes a specific look at what can come up in real-life situations and what you're committing to as you decide your answer to this question.
Question 7: Am I willing to listen to my dog's needs when out, even if that means ending my fun time early?
Your dog's stress can escalate quickly and a difficult situation can become dangerous in an instant. It's always your job to keep an eye on your dog and extricate your dog from a stressful environment.
Question 8: Am I willing to advocate for my dog with people and dogs?
Your dog can't speak for herself or take himself home. Melissa shares why and what to do to be your dog's advocate when you're in public together.
Question 9: Do I know how to read my dog's body language to be a step ahead of stress?
Describes 6 common signs of stress and anxiety in dogs so you can anticipate what your dog is feeling and address it early before it becomes a regrettable incident for everyone, most importantly, your dog. And you can find Melissa's fuller dog body language guide here if you'd like to dive into more on body language.
Get started on this guide here, or continue to see what's next with a great skill to help your dog settle wherever you may be...
Dog Public Manners Guide 2: How to Teach Your Dog to Settle Anywhere
If you want your dog to be able to settle in calmly in a public space (or even at home) on cue, you'll want to build a solid "go to mat" skill with your dog.
In this guide, force-free trainer and Dogly Advocate Melissa Dallier shares why and how to teach this super useful and versatile skill to have your dog with you just about anywhere while feeling secure and relaxed.
What you'll learn in this dog training guide:
- Why knowing the "go to mat" skill is invaluable - especially when you have a dog who lives a go-where-you-go life
- When "go to mat" is useful in your life with your dog
- 3 key steps to learning "go to mat"
Step 1: Get your clicker (or verbal marker), your dog's favorite treats, and your mat (or flat dog bed or blanket)
Step 2: Place the mat in front of your dog...
Step 3: Once your dog is reliably walking onto the mat with 3-4 paws after the reset, wait...
You can also follow along as Melissa takes her own dog through the steps of learning "go to mat" in the accompanying video.
Pro tip: take breaks when you're mat training and keep it simple
- Starting goal: 5 things you should focus on in initial mat training
- Future goals: 6 things you should be looking for in future mat training sessions
Jump into this guide here to start your mat training to keep your dog at ease and happy in public. (You can also find a 5-part, in-depth series of guides on "go to mat" here on Dogly if you're interested in more mat training.)
Or continue on to teach your dog to calm down when you're out and about...
Dog Public Manners Guide 3: How to Help Your Dog Calm Down Outside
Does your dog think stepping a paw outside your door is the signal for "let the wild rumpus begin"? If yes, you're in good company with other pet parents whose dogs think the place for calm behavior and impulse control are inside your home.
In this step-by-step guide, certified force-free trainer and Dogly Training Advocate Karen Chapdelaine explains how you can help your dog thoroughly enjoy the outdoors without resorting to the default behavior of hyper dog high energy.
What you'll learn in this dog training guide:
To get started, a few dog training basics for setting your dog up for calm behavior..
2) Choose a low-traffic time to avoid your dog feeling overwhelmed or overly excited.
3) Find a spot that's not too hot or cold for your dog.
4) Make sure your dog has had a good potty break before you head out.
5) Calmly and confidently lead the way - your dog will look to you for guidance.
Then you're ready to try a simple exercise to teach your dog going outside doesn't always mean crazy excitement...
Outside doesn't have to be about only physical exercise or busy places. With this activity in the full guide here, your dog understands being outside can be an enjoyable, relaxing, de-stressing time for both of you.
You'll learn how to teach your over-excited dog to enjoy the rewards of being a calm dog outdoors with 3 simple steps (which Karen also takes you through in the accompanying video with her dog CJ):
1) How to pick a spot and set the stage in advance (including a blanket or your dog's mat or a bed)
Think calming fresh air and nature...the opposite of a dog park.
2) What to bring
An extra-long line leash is a good idea (you'll have your dog on leash during this activity) so your dog can sniff and wander around a bit to quietly use excess energy while engaging his/her senses but remain calm.
3) How and when to reward your dog's behavior with plenty of high-quality, tasty treats (that your dog LOVES)
You'll be doling out calm praise and generous treating for any relaxed behavior to your dog while hanging out on the blanket together. Does your dog sit or lie down next to you? Treat! Any time your dog wanders and gives you eye contact, treat! Or wanders around a bit and returns, treat! (If you and your dog have done clicker training, then click and treat!)
Dive into the full guide here to learn about teaching your dog to relax in outside environments. Or, if you haven't started the first 2 guides on calm public manners for your dog yet, you can begin with 9 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Taking Your Dog to Public Places followed by How to Teach Your Dog to Settle Anywhere for a useful knowledge and skills foundation for this guide.
Check out the Manners Channel on Dogly
Now you have a good set of skills to help keep your dog comfortable, calm, and happy in everyday, public situations. If you want to keep training and learning with your dog, you can continue in the Manners Channel to Food Manners, Travel Manners, or even Holiday Manners.
Remember to keep your training fun, take plenty of breaks, and enjoy every opportunity to deepen the connection and trust you and your dog are building together!
And if you need help, you can ask the Dogly Advocates in any channel or work with them one-on-one through Dogly.