As we travel the world with our dogs, we often get the question how we make them behave everywhere we go. I must admit that I’m quite proud when people compliment us on the dogs, especially when I see how surprised they are about how calm our Husky is (they’ve clearly never seen her bully her brothers at home).
Let me start off by saying that our dogs aren’t always that perfect, but there are some very simple things you can do to make life a lot easier for you, your dog and everyone else involved.
Now before you say “I could never travel with my dog, I can’t even go on a normal walk with him because he is so this or that”; we took Peluche with us to Italy, while a few weeks earlier he had never seen a leash and tried to bite us. If we can make a traumatized rescue dog the ideal travel companion in three weeks, then you can make one out of that couch potato.
The importance of socialization
Nothing beats good socialization. If you get a dog when she’s still a puppy, you have the ideal opportunity to make her used to everything this world has to offer. A good breeder normally starts this before you get your pooch, but once you got her, it’s all in your hands.
Introduce her to new smells, people, animals, noises, anything you can think of. Make it fun! You want her to associate these things with happy thoughts. Encourage her to explore, in a safe way. Reward her when she sniffs things, when she’s being brave, when playing nicely with other pups, …
It’s never too late to socialize your dog. Even if you get a five year old rescue, you can still do all of these things. It might just take a little more time if your dog has never been exposed to anything. Be aware of potential trauma; maybe your dog is afraid of certain noises or people. Build those things up slowly, with a lot of positive reinforcement. Baby steps! All those impressions can be quite a lot so it’s important to take regular breaks.
Use a harness
Our dogs wear collars, but we actually never attach their leash to it. It’s just for decoration and so they have their tag on, even when they’re not wearing the harness.
The advantages of using a harness are:
- It doesn’t put any strain on the neck. Collars could cause injuries if your dog pulls on the leash.
- If worn correctly, it’s fully escape-proof. Great for anxious dogs! Collars are so easy to get out of.
- It’s easier to control your dog, just in case.
- It discourages pulling, especially if there’s also a front buckle.
- If your dog has trouble getting up, you can help him by pulling a little bit on the harness.
‘Look at me’
The best and easiest way to make your dog behave in public, is to simply get their attention. In the video above I explain how to teach your dog to look at you. In general, giving your dog a command like ‘sit’ will already help a great deal. It’s important to give the command BEFORE he’s in the red zone where he’s already engaging and going bonkers. They do love to keep us on our toes, don’t they? 😜
Always carry treats
One more tip: dogs love to be bribed. It’s obviously better to reward good behaviour, but if bribing your dog to avoid bad behaviour is what it takes… You might as well give in to your dog’s mobster practices instead of apologizing for his bad behaviour to strangers! Yeah, we get played too sometimes… 🤣
Q: how does your dog behave in public? How do you react?