Survival Guide to Training in Public
There you are - you invested time, money and energy getting your dog trained and acquiring the skills necessary to keep that training going. Nice work! You and your pack head out into the world equipped with a new set of tools and information ready to get to work to build a healthy life together...
SCREECH, RECORD SCRATCH, SHRIEK
Only problem, out in the world are...well...other people, and dogs. You are ready to focus on training and proof your dog's commands and abilities...but there are a ton of situations that can come up to slow you down or completely derail your training and overall confidence! Here are a few of the biggies:
SCENARIO 1 'Oh he's friendly': You are walking down the sidewalk and your dog is behaving famously. Just when things are going smoothly a distant lab perks up and sprints in your direction...no leash in sight. The owner, seemingly unconcerned, waves off her dog's charge with a casual 'Oh he's friendly.' Only, your dog may not be and he is well under your control and would be progressing perfectly if the session was not derailed by this donut of an owner and her DAMN DOG!!! SCENARIO 2 'I know best': No matter what methods you are using. No matter how long you have trained. No matter how uninterested you make it seem you are...There will always be the know it all that offers unsolicited advice while you are out training your dog.They want to offer tips, criticism or just tell you stories about their cousin's dog that is part wolf and could kill a man...This
person often comes equipped with a dog not exhibiting any control or manners...Thus perpetuating the old adage: those who cant do, teach (or at least force feed their thoughts on unsuspecting victims.)
SCENARIO 3 'I MUST PET': Straight forward - this person will relentlessly pursue physical interaction with your dog no matter how clearly you present a scene of being busy at work. They also typically have no CLUE just HOW to pet a dog and come in fast and hot. They pet hard, coo like a baby and leave in a wash of terms like 'gobble you up' and/or 'fur babies.'
You spend time training in public YOU WILL encounter these scenarios in some way shape or form. GUARANTEED. So, to help you succeed in your continued training I offer some tips to help you survive the wilds of public dog training:
Stay away from dog parks. Far away. They are not good for you, or your pack. Truth is, your dog probably doesn't like the dog park as much as you think he does (many dogs actually HATE the dog park their owners just don't know it) and would so much rather be training with you on a quiet side street. Cannot tell you how many fights I see from dogs overwhelmed with anxiety at dog parks. Dogs do not thrive off playing with 20+ 'friends', they prefer hanging out and doing things with a calm confident pack (even if it is just a pack of 2).
Train in off hours. If you schedule permits, try and train when everyone else is at work, asleep, or inside. Pouring rain? Get to it! Training in the rain is one of my favorite things to do!
Look official. Slap a vest/harness on your dog. I took an old orange blaze vest and wrote 'In Training' on it. People just assumed I was gearing that pup up for some elite level K9 division. This is probably the biggest tip I can offer. Just like wearing a tie/dress to work, make training FEEL official. It will keep commentators to a minimum and will help with your own confidence in working your dog. BONUS wear aviators and carry a 'not in the mood to talk' disposition to complete the look.
You are doing something 99% of dog owners don't do...Train. You are working towards a happier and healthier pack! Kudos. Hold your head high, find your inner swagger, and enjoy the practice of running your pack.