Coffee Shop Training

As a dog trainer, I have a simple goal. I want to be able to take all the dogs that I train to the coffee shop. Now I know how ridiculously simple this seems, but to be honest it requires more than you may realize. Now if you don’t have a coffee shop that serves you outside or one that will allow you to bring your dog or dogs in with you, well then you need another person with you to go inside to get your favorite drink. In my case, I’m lucky, I can bring my dogs in but I usually have a friend or my husband with me. So that part is taken care of.
The message here is that its great to be able to bring your dog to a coffee shop or outside restaurant and have your dog lie quietly by your feet or chair. People love their pets and want to bring them everywhere, so why not train your dog to be calm in this type of outdoor environment?
I see people struggle with their dogs, trying to get Fluffy to stay in one place or not eat the bread off the table next to you. Eventually they just give up and let Fluffy be rude and annoy everyone or leave Fluffy at home.
Both cases are sad.
My personal dogs are trained to lay at my feet or next to my chair, stay still and watch the world go on around them. The clanging of the shopping carts from the grocery store two shops down, the sound of children screaming, laughing or crying and then running by. The woman walking her Poodle by us. The kids on the skateboards, that roll right by my dogs feet. All these wonderful distractions. And my dogs still lay still.
This is why I take clients dogs to the coffee shop, its such a great training lesson for them. Yesterday was one of those days. I had all four dogs. My two big dogs and my two little client dogs. What a sight we must have been. Because my oldest dog needs a ramp to get out of the SVU, I have trained all the other dogs to also use the ramp. So I get out of the car and one by one the dogs come down the ramp. I have a big and a small dog in each hand. The outside area of the coffee shop is small so my dogs know the command “Single File”, the clients dogs do not. The leashes got a little twisted up, but we all made it to the only available table, the one in the back, without much fuss. I sat down, my dogs knew what to do and then the training began. Eventually the clients dogs figured out all they were supposed to do was lay quietly at my feet and watch the world go by. That is when the real training set in.
One of my goals for that day was now accomplished. We continue to practice this goal depending on where we go pack walking. But I always find a path with a coffee shop on the way, I get my favorite drink and the dogs learn how to do absolutely nothing as the world goes on right past their noses.
To many people and trainers concern themselves with training dogs lots of commands and tricks, hardly anyone trains their dogs how to be calm.
I prefer calm. So I will continue training using the local coffee shops, that are surrounded by lots of distractions.