Eat out to help out. Make it dog friendly too!
I wrote this guest blog for paaw.house
As we acclimatise to a new normal, ‘Lockdown’ puppies and their parents are chomping at the bit to experience the outside world’s sights, sounds and smells.
The ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ scheme with up to 50% off your meal is a ticket to get out, support your local dog friendly eateries and socialise your pup.
It’s morally mandatory to train your puppy the ground rules for model ‘doggy dining’ and pub culture etiquette.
Socialisation is essential to a puppy’s life skills. But just as important is setting the ground rules that can be adapted to different situations.
When you turn your dog’s world into a game, based on rules and teamwork you’ve hit the jackpot.
Games can be everything from travelling in the car, on a bus, train or tube. Walking in the park or joining you in the pub, visiting friends – the sky is the limit!
The unspoken rule in situations where food is being served, your pup must fly the ‘good’ dog flag as not everyone around you is dog friendly. There’s two key behaviours to train: the ‘settle’ and ‘meet and greets’.
Creating the game that’s settle ‘on the mat’ / blanket or lightweight bed until you’re advised otherwise is key to doggy pub culture etiquette. It’s also useful for budding ‘office’ dogs and for those who’ll be working from home.
Only ever reward when your pup is ‘on the mat’. Encourage him onto ‘the mat’ with a treat to go down. Praise this calmly and reward in position on the mat. Repeat. Repeat.
Gradually move a step away, asking him back into position every time he moves. Build so you can leave the room, return and he’s on the mat!
‘On the Mat’ needs a release command – like all done – so your pup knows when to get off ‘the mat’.
Never feed your pup from the table as that won’t help as puppy will expect titbits and likely cause a scene when he doesn’t get what he wants.
The other unspoken rule is for your pup to practice polite ‘meet and greets’ with new people (and dogs!).
It’s such a bad look when your pup has imprinted muddy paws on a clean pair of white pressed jeans.
Simply ignore any ‘jumping up’ everywhere and use a long line indoors to pre-empt any over excitable behaviour with visitors in line with social distancing rules.
Encourage four feet on the ground rewarding this with a great game of tug or extra tasty treat. Keeping four feet planted will become the default as it’s rewarded with play, food and positive attention.
Equally in the park a long line helps with training the recall in the park and keeping social distance, navigating picnics, people, joggers, cyclists, children.
Before Lockdown the RSPCA revealed over 30% dog owners didn’t walk their own dog! My hope is that through lockdown we’ve learnt to enjoy the most seminal part of dog ownership, and the gift of time with our four-legged best friends.
The more proactive time you invest into your puppy the better! You’ll get to know each other and build the teamwork that is instinctual in man’s best friend.