It is fun to take your dog with you to the local pet store or out to lunch but the first time in public can be nerve racking for both you and the dog! To help make sure that the outing is enjoyable follow these tips:
Before you try to take your puppy out to a public place, make sure that she responds to simple commands like sit and stay and knows how to walk on a leash. This will give you some tools to help control her during your outing.
If your dog is nervous with one person around then don’t take her around two people or into a store. Remember that not every dog is a social butterfly so let her go at her own pace. If you put her into to many “scary” situations it will show her that everything is scary! The golden rule is: go at the puppy’s pace.
When you are out in public, introduce her to as many different types of people as possible. Let her interact with kids, the elderly, homeless people, police officers and people of other ethnicities. When she meets these people allow her to be friendly but make sure she doesn’t jump. If she does, tell her no then use a treat or the leash to make her sit before the person is allowed to pet her again.
Introduce her to as many different types of noises and things as possible. Show her a balloon, a grocery cart or a garbage truck. This will help teach your dog that although something may be loud it doesn’t mean she has to bark at it or be scared.
Be aware of your own feelings. It’s normal to feel nervous when you first take the pup out or when you see another dog. However, you have to put that feeling aside when you are training. Dogs are very, very good at picking up on their owner’s feelings. If they sense you are nervous, apprehensive or scared, it will only verify for them that other dogs/people are indeed a threatening situation where they need to protect themselves. Be as happy and upbeat as possible. If your dog can see that you are relaxed then she will relax as well.
Practice her commands. Make sure your pup learns that she has to listen to you in public as well. Set her up for success by asking her to do a simple command like a sit or a down.
If you are in a store, make sure that your do g walks next to you or behind you. If she is out front, she is more likely to get into trouble or startle a person.
Watch the pavement temperature. Remember that blacktop tends to be 15-20 degrees warmer then other pavement so check to make sure it isn’t too hot before you walk her across it.