Simple trips to the shops or popping out for a coffee are things many of us take for granted, but for some people with disabilities getting out and about is simply not possible. Trainer Becky gives an insight into introducing dogs to shops and cafes.

Visits are an important part of training

Group of socialisers and young dogs in training in a cafe

“Getting our dogs used to the places they will visit with their owners is an important part of their socialisation and training.

Visits to supermarkets, shops and cafes start when our pups are small, to ensure that gradually over time they get used to all the sights, sounds and smells, and become comfortable with settling in these busy environments.

Introducing dogs to shops and cafes – step by step

As with all new experiences, it’s important to introduce new environments slowly and positively:

  • Begin with very short visits to quieter environments.
  • When in a cafe to start with, a chew is given to keep the puppy occupied for the short tea stop, so they learn that in these environments we lay down and relax. They are slowly weaned off the chews as they get better at settling.
  • Introduce new environments by having a sit and a chew, then an explore if dog/pup is happy to do so.
  • Being armed with lots of high value  treats to reward appropriate behaviours is crucial. It can take a few visits before the pup/dog gains confidence in the environment.
  • It’s important to look for signs the pup/dog isn’t coping e.g. Lip licking, yawning, shaking, ears back, low tail carriage.
  • Build up to busy shopping centres at the pup’s/dog’s speed, always offering support.
  • As the dog progresses through his training, less support is given as his confidence grows, but timescales are dependent on each individual dog.

The end result

“By the time our dogs are matched with their new owners, they are happy to accompany them to shops, cafes and on days out, enabling them to live life to the full.”

Watch Linda and Obi in action:

Dogs for Good – Meet Linda and Obi from Dogs for Good on Vimeo.

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