How to Train Your Dog to Behave in Public

Date: July 6, 2018

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If you’ve checked out @isabellaandpenelope on Instagram, you know Isabella and Penelope are quite the socialites. Our dogs go everywhere with us - to restaurants, to bars, to stores, in cars, on boats, on vacations, to friends’ houses, to parties… the list goes on and on. 

Time and time again, my husband and I receive the comment: “Wow, they’re so well-behaved and quiet. I could never bring my dog out in public like this!”

isabella-and-penelope-birkdale-village-starbucks.pngEach time we hear it, we respond the same way. That while Isabella and Penelope are naturally very well-mannered dogs, training them on how to behave in public well enough for us to be able to take them everywhere wasn’t a difficult task. It’s not a hard feat for any dog owner to accomplish.

Yes, a fair amount of time and effort went into teaching Bella and Penny how to act while we’re out and about. Yes, it required a lot of patience, some creativity, and some basic training. But, it was worth it! 

I love being able to take the girls with us everywhere we go. That’s why I’ve developed this list of tips on how to train your dog to behave appropriately in public so you can enjoy more activities and time together.

1. Master Basic Commands

First and foremost, you need to teach your dog basic commands. It’s so important that while you have your dog out and about that he is under your control at all time, and I don’t just mean being restrained by a leash. If your dog does not know basic commands and is not willing to respond to them immediately, you’re putting your dog, yourself, and others at risk.

Commands I have found very helpful for Isabella and Penelope to know are:  ‘sit,’ ‘stay,’ ‘lay down,’ ‘quiet,’ ‘heel,’ and ‘no jump.’ 

2. Burn Off Your Dog’s Extra Energy

While this seems like a no-brainer, you’d be surprised how many dog owners don’t think this one through. 

isabella-and-penelope-woof-gang-bakery-1.pngIf your dog is hyper, he’s going to have a hard time staying calm in a new environment with new people and potentially new dogs or other kinds of animals. Instead of setting him up for failure, plan an activity to burn off your dog’s extra energy before you take him out with you. This will encourage him to stay mellow, will make the experience a more positive one, and will help him to understand how he is to behave when he gets to tag along.

While Penelope has always been quiet, relaxed and easy to bring out, Isabella was the opposite. As a puppy, Bella was high energy and always wanted to play and interact with other dogs and people anywhere I took her. 

Instead of bringing her places and fighting with her the whole time to keep her calm and under control, and instead of leaving her at home, I began to exhaust her before taking with me. 

If I had plans to eat at a restaurant with friends, I let her play with other dogs in the dog park for an hour or two beforehand. If I was bringing her with me to the brewery, I’d take her running for a couple of miles right before. 

As long as she was tired, she behaved perfectly. And after a while, I didn’t have to plan activities beforehand as she began to understand that she should lay quietly when she was out with me. 

3. Utilize a ‘Distractor’ for Your Pup

isabella-and-penelope-olde-mecklenburg-bewery.pngIf you have a young puppy or a dog that struggles to calm down or gets restless sitting still for a while, I highly recommend bringing something as a distractor. A few of my favorites are chew bones and Kongs filled with peanut butter.

I will never forget the look on my husband’s face while we were at dinner when I pulled a bone out of my purse and gave it to Penny when she was getting restless. While I’m sure it looked funny,  it immediately occupied Penny and kept her busy for hours afterward. My husband and I joked about how it was like giving pacifiers to babies to keep them from crying.

Just make sure when picking a distractor that it won’t be something that will bother those around you. In other words, maybe leave the squeaky toy at home.

4. Bring Treats to Reward Good Behavior

isabella-and-penelope-woof-gang-bakery-2.pngJust as you would reward your dog for sitting when asked or going into the crate when instructed, you need to be sure to bring treats to reward good public behavior. 

I love these small training treats from Blue Buffalo. When the girls were learning to behave in public, I always kept a small bag of them in my purse to reward them throughout the experience. 

Have a Question?

Have any questions about the tips above, suggestions of tips that worked well for training your pup or any other comments? Leave us a comment or send us a message. We’d love to hear from you!