Written by: Jill Jones
If you are among the majority of Americans who, collectively, own 78 million dogs, chances are you’ve had occasion to bring her along with you to do everyday errands. Along the way, you have undoubtedly discovered that rules allowing pets vary widely among retail establishments.
The good news is, given their burgeoning popularity, especially among young adults, dogs are being welcomed by an increasing number of store and restaurant owners and managers who believe it’s good for business.The question is: how should these dogs be handled in pet friendly stores to ensure they don’t do any damage and/or bother other shoppers?
Obviously, the question is easily addressed if you own a dog that’s small enough to be transported in a portable carrier or even in a purse or backpack. But if your dog is more than, say, 15 lbs., she will have to walk on leash, hopefully via harness which will provide the greatest control.
Before you embark on a retail outing with your dog, we recommend some advance preparation. At the very least, she should be trained to obey basic commands such as NO, SIT, STAY, COME, HEEL, OFF, and LEAVE IT before you bring her out in public. And don’t even think about bringing her into a store if she’s not completely housetrained. Unneutered male dogs who have a habit of marking their territory should also be left behind.
While basic obedience training is critical, you should also consider your dog’s temperament and any idiosyncrasies that perhaps you find endearing but others may not. Is she fearful or vocal among strangers? Is she wildly exuberant when she encounters other people? Does she drool a lot (ahem, Newfie owners)? Or does she have a great big bushy tail that works like a high speed windshield washer, taking out everything in its path? How does she tend to react around unpredictable kids who might try to pet her, pull her ears or worse? What about her attitude toward other dogs she might encounter in a store?
Of course, spending time out in public with plenty people around can be a really good way to help socialize your dog and many experts recommend it. But, it’s prudent to start slowly so that she doesn’t become overwhelmed and afraid. You should start out by bringing her to a store that caters to canines, such as one that specializes in dog products, where she might feel at home. Most Orvis retail store locations encourage visitors to bring their dogs with them — just look for the “dogs welcome” message on your local retail store page. And, then you can move on from there, gradually adding additional venues and challenges.
You can increase the odds of having a successful outing by calling the businesses you plan to visit in advance to determine their rules about pets.Your adventure will go more smoothly if you’re prepared and minimize surprises that may make both of your tense. In addition, you should time your visit to avoid peak period crowds.
When it’s all said and done, you might have to face up to the fact that your dog is not well suited to being in an enclosed space with a lot of strangers and will have to leave her at home.You need to balance her need for safe space with your own peace of mind. Shopping and eating out with your dog sounds like fun but might just be too stressful in reality.