Enjoying more time with our pets in the summer months can be easy as the temperatures rise- there are many businesses now allowing dogs to enjoy time with their owners on the businesses patios. But we need to prepare our dogs to ensure they are patio ready so everyone can enjoy their time together.
Training Skills for the Patio
There are a few important skills for our dogs to know before they get out and enjoy that patio time. Can our dogs ignore other people and dogs? Are they comfortable in groups? Teaching dogs skills like ‘look at me’ and to stay on a mat will be critical to their success! It is also vital to make sure our dogs have a solid ‘leave it’ command. There will be many smelly and yummy items that your dog will be interested in out and about, and so good impulse control and being able to tell them to leave any dropped food alone and trust that they will listen will help everyone enjoy their time.
Practice Patio Skills With Your Dog
Being honest with your dogs skills will help you and your dog be better prepared and enjoy your time together. Practice the skills first at home, then in a few different settings to ensure that your dog understands what is expected in all situations. Dogs struggle to generalize so practicing in those few different areas will help them learn that what you are asking them to do is the same no matter where you are. This will set them up for success in the new environment of the patio!
Prepare to Take Your Dog Out
Before we leave our homes we need to make sure we have done the proper preparations for our trip. Consider where you want to go and make sure it is a dog friendly establishment by checking out their website or calling ahead. You also will want to consider if your dog is ready to be out for a full meal in a busy patio area or if they may be happier with a shorter visit with a cup of coffee or just a desert instead. Consider going to a coffee shop or brewery that will have a calmer environment versus a bar or busy restaurant until your dog is used to the activity of patios.
Plan Your Dog’s Patio Visit
Remember that time of day affects the environment of the patios. Peak meal times, such as dinner and supper, will be a lot busier. We need to make sure that our dogs can tolerate all of the aspects of the crowds before we go out in these times, so it would be best to try a more quiet time for the business for the first visits and gradually try the other times as your dog gets more used to the patio environment.
Ensure Your Dog is Comfortable
It is also helpful to give your dog a walk and to get some extra energy down before you go to a patio. This will give them ample time to take a potty break if they need as well and they will be more willing to settle in and rest as you enjoy your meal. Bring your supplies- water and dish, mat for settling, and a shorter leash to keep them near you. Try to find a spot that is away from the busy routes so you are out of the way of servers or patrons walking by. Remember to pay attention to your dog. Are they enjoying their time? Are they hot or getting enough water? Ensure they are comfortable and not bothering others on the patio. If things aren’t going well, don’t be afraid to pay for your meal and leave. You want to ensure that your dog is having a good time so they will want to come back. When you get home try to find out what was making your dog unhappy and work on training and building their skills in that area so they will be ready the next time.
A pup that is patio ready can: sit and stay while people walk by and are comfortable around sudden noises (dropping silverware, a menu board falling over, or umbrella blowing in the wind, as examples). Patio pro pups can relax around groups of people, rest on a mat under a table or against a railing, can ignore and relax around other pups using the same patio.
Explorers: Test out how comfortable your dog is with the components of a happy patio visit. If they have trouble with any of the following, work on improving those. If they can do some things but not all things, try visiting a quieter patio or a slower time of day.
Growers: If your pup has mastered visiting a quieter patio location, visit another patio at a busier time of day or a busier locale. If they were able sit with you last time, try to have them lay down on a comfortable mat under the table.
Challengers: Your pup is ready to take on the challenges of a busy patio with both people and other dogs. Put those skills to the test! Can you pup stay relaxed laying under the table as people walk by? Can they ignore other pups on the patio, even those still working on their “patio manners”? Show off your skills and help give patio pups a good reputation!