Monday, June 6, 2011

Why (and how) to set your dog up for success when you're outside

Liam the pug at the end of his leash
I am a big believer in taking your dog on outings. Whether you take your dog to the beach, to the park, or even just to the local hardware store, you're giving your dog a great opportunity to socialize with other people and other dogs.

For extremely excitable dogs like Liam, this is an incredible training opportunity. When we're in a stimulating environment, I can teach him to watch me and focus, rather than barking and running. This is hard training to do at home, when he's already focused on me and there's nothing to distract him.

That said, this is a gentle reminder to all dog lovers out there that taking your dog with you does mean providing adequate supervision. Dogs are curious, and stimulating environments can be overwhelming and bring out the worst in your pet. I see an increase in separation anxiety when we take Liam to the park (as seen in the photo above). Others see an increase in aggression or fearfulness. Make sure to watch your dog's body language. Train where you can, but know when enough is enough and it's time to go home. You're striving for happy body language. A happy dog is less apt to be a troublesome dog on the next outing.

For another perspective on this issue, check out this interesting blog post. Food for thought, for sure.