Dog-friendly locations mainly include pet stores, but an increasing amount of small businesses hand out dog treats and place fresh water bowls outside of businesses to lure in customers with dogs. These businesses often include ice cream stores and food stands in main street shopping communities. At these locations, dog owners can encounter store staff members, other pet owners and pedestrians. When interacting with others, dog owners must remember the safety of their pets, other people and other animals.
Mind Your Pet’s Manners
Only well-socialized pets should enter dog-friendly businesses. While in a store that permits pets, you and your dog will likely encounter other pets. While dog socialization is never entirely predictable, you can take some measures to ensure your pet behaves properly in the store.
- Socialize your dog prior to entering a pet-friendly business
- Teach your dog to sit when they want attention
- Monitor your dog’s behavior in the store to ensure polite behavior – is he comfortable there?
This last point is especially important for me. My Boxer is a well-behaved dog, but he is extremely excitable, even when well-exercised. I need to monitor him and know when it’s time ensure his attention is occupied in a calmer fashion.
Leash and Collar
Whenever in public, you should always leash and collar your dog. Even if your dog follows you, it’s only safe to appear in public with a dog when leashed. This prevents dogs from running after children, cars or other animals.
Most communities and private businesses have rules or laws about this. You should always assume that a leash is a requirement. You’re responsible for any damage done by your dog. You can prevent damage by walking your dog with a leash and collar.
Dogs also respond well to leadership via leash and collar. Odin knows I’m in charge, especially when the leash goes on. He’s trained to follow during our walks and looks to me for guidance when he’s confused.
Scoop the Poop
While dog-friendly business owners and staff understand that dogs have accidents, you should prepare to clean up after your dog in any pet-friendly business.
Most pet stores and veterinary clinics have cleaning supplies and bags on hand, but you should never rely entirely on them. It’s also an inconvenience to walk away to get a staff member or find the supplies, leaving the mess there for someone else to discover.
Even a well-trained dog can have an accident in a store. There are new smells, and since the store is pet-friendly, your dog is processing a multitude of scents and it can feel very exciting or overwhelming. This can result in urination or defecation.
When I take Odin somewhere, I always bring along some plastic bags for quick use and disposal. I don’t want to give anyone the impression that I’d walk away from his mess-even if it’s just to retrieve cleaning supplies.
Before you head into a pet-friendly business, you should know how your dog interacts with other pets-and not simply dogs.
While Odin loves to meet and play with other canines, he despises cats (one entered our backyard and scratched him up when he was a puppy). Being much smaller than him, most cats are also fearful of him now that he’s full-grown. Odin also chases after small animals when they act like prey, darting away.
Because I know this, I need to be careful when taking Odin to pet-friendly businesses. If cats or other small animals are present, Odin will give chase.
To combat these issues, I bring treats with me, using them to distract him from other animals until we walk away.
Respect Other Patrons and Store Staff
When in pet-friendly stores, you should be mindful of other patrons and the store staff members. Those who work there have job duties and other customers are hoping for a positive shopping experience and interactions.
While I am able to visit most pet-friendly businesses with Odin, I have had to take him out of stores on some occasions. This happened due to another dog displaying aggressive behavior. Another store was pet-friendly, but the shop was a bit small and I was afraid Odin would break something.
Trusting your common sense and instincts is the best way to navigate the experience of taking your dog to pet-friendly businesses. Are there unsafe or breakable objects? Can your canine companion safely interact with other pets? Do the store staff seem annoyed by your dog’s behavior? By staying aware of the situation, you can provide a safe and enjoyable outing for your dog.