We had some pretty nice weather recently, so my mom and I went for lunch one day to a local café that has outdoor seating. And, we took Ginger dog with us! Ginger had a grand time and hopes that we will do this again soon. (Being in Texas, we have more “nice weather” days for eating outside in October, November, and December than during our horribly hot summer months.)
Going places is a lot of fun for Ginger and it is also a great opportunity for training, as it’s an opportunity to practice training in a new location. We picked a quiet table where there wouldn’t be quite as many people passing by and where it would be easier for Ginger to settle and stay relaxed. We also took a big container of dog treats with us, so that we would be prepared and ready to reward good behavior!
Ginger is a friendly, social girl, so she was sometimes pretty interested in the people walking by the restaurant, especially when we first arrived. Ginger wanted to watch the people passing by and, occasionally, she wanted to walk toward them. So, we took the time to play the name game. When I saw a person approaching, I would say “Ginger.” When Ginger looked at me and made eye contact, she would get a click, some praise, and a bit of a treat.
This was a fun game! Instead of becoming preoccupied or even frustrated with people who didn’t want to say “Hi,” Ginger instead realized that staying close by and checking in with me would earn her treats. This was a great exercise for Ginger because it’s good practice for a dog to learn that in some places and contexts it’s okay to interact with people, but in other settings or at other times it’s not okay.
If you have a dog that hasn’t travelled much, visiting dog-friendly restaurants or coffee shops with outdoor seating can be a great way to start taking your training on the road. Ginger still doesn’t do well at big events or in large crowds, where there are lots of people, noise and commotion. She just gets way too excited and over-aroused.
However, at restaurants, we’re able to find quiet tables and we stay stationary the whole time. This gives Ginger a chance to acclimate to the environment and settle. Also, at restaurants, people are much less likely to want to come up and pet your dog or say “Hi,” than at parks or other public venues.
Of course, any time you take your dog to a restaurant, make sure that the restaurant allows dogs in their outdoor seating area. Also, this should go without saying, but if you have a dog that is overly shy, fearful, reactive, aggressive, or otherwise gets stressed in public settings, going to a restaurant for lunch might not be the best option for your pooch.
Have you taken your training on the road lately?
Do you have any favorite places away from home where you like to practice training?