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The Caveat to "The Everywhere Dog"

This blog post is intended to provide clarity for those who feel the need to tell us that dogs shouldn't go everywhere:

You're right. Dogs shouldn't go everywhere. There are many places that are not suited to accommodating dogs. Even some "dog friendly" places aren't exactly ideal for dogs to spend any amount of time. Recently someone RSVP'd to a wedding and their plus one was their dog. Not only is that outright disrespectful, but really? You can't leave your dog at home to attend a wedding? That's just silly. (Be on the lookout for my wedding dog blogpost. It's a doozy...)

Last year, I labeled one of my most popular training programs "The Everywhere Dog Board & Train" because it sounds cool and I think dogs should be able to go everywhere they are allowed to go if they're polite and clean. Last summer, I was walking Leo, who has since passed on, in downtown Saint Mary's when an old man said to me, "now, that there's an everywhere dog, that's a good dog" and he was so right. And so I renamed a program after that interaction which was my last major public outing with Leo before he passed away in August of 2023.

Those that know me know that I'm actually a stickler for following the rules. So much so that if I want to take my dog or a client dog somewhere and I'm not sure if it's allowed, I call and ask. And if I don't get a clear answer, the dogs don't tag along.

In the summer time, I'm not outside as much in the heat of the day to protect dogs from heat exhaustion so I go to dog-friendly establishments indoors to continue to expose the dogs to different environments.

A very common occurrence, especially if I'm out with my own dogs, is the assumption that the dog that is with me is a service animal because of their demeanor. I'm quick to let folks know that their good behavior is just how pets should act if we take them into public spaces. Most people agree with me that they would absolutely include their dogs more if they knew they'd behave. But no, they are not service dogs. And if you see us out in a place where you didn't know dogs were allowed, I definitely called to ask first. It is never my intention to make people uncomfortable or inconvenience patrons or employees.

I used to take trainees to a Ford Quicklane location all the time when I lived in the Atlanta area. The staff loved seeing well behaved dogs and we always got compliments as we waited in the lobby.

One day, I walked in for routine service with a German Shepherd called Sofie. Sofie was a regular boarder with me and went through my program as a young puppy. She was/is perfect, but I'm biased because she was a VIP trainee. But it so happened that the once dog-friendly establishment had changed their rules after a customer allowed their unruly dog to bite another customer in the lobby. The worker behind the counter told me that dogs were no longer allowed here and that she could only stay if she was a service animal.

It was so unfortunate to have to turn around and bring her back to the house, but we're always respectful of any establishments rules, even when changes are made between visits. We don't gripe about it. And although her behavior was indeed that of a well trained service dog, I thanked the worker for letting me know and that I'd be back another day without a dog. Please don't be manipulative and attempt to trick others into thinking your well-behaved dog is a service dog. It's unlawful and well, then you're just a liar.

Last week, I took Nova with me while my car had its 100k mile service done. I had an appointment and knew I'd be there for a while so before heading there, I called them to ask if I was allowed to bring my dog inside the lobby to wait with me. They gave me the green light and I packed her mat and water bowl and headed there.

If you've had a chance to meet Nova, you know she's good company. She's been going everywhere with me since she was 8 weeks old so she's pretty awesome. While people walk up to me to inquire about what her job is, my response is rather serious, "This is Nova and her only job is to look adorable." She does it well. Of course, I expect her to be well-behaved, but she doesn't have a job really. She's just my companion. Again, that I've had since she was 8 weeks old.

The Everywhere Dog Program includes a 3 week board and train element. But if you think that I'm making dogs look like this after 3 weeks, you probably haven't had a conversation with me. Training dogs to go everywhere takes time, repetition, and clear communication. Although I do indeed work my butt off while dogs are in training with me, the expectations are not for perfection at the end of 3 weeks. I think this is the clarity that the critics may need, but I'll continue, to be sure.

I support people who want to include their dogs when it's allowed and safe. Allowed means dogs are permitted. Safe means for the dog and for everyone else. The temperature, surfaces, noises, other animals, and people should all be taken into consideration when you're thinking of taking your dog out with you. I advise folks to use caution if you intend to take your dog to events where there is alcohol consumption and loud music. I'm not a fan of watching intoxicated humans interact inappropriately with other peoples' dogs. And as fun as it is to take dogs to the beach, the summer temperatures aren't safe for your couch potato that's used to your 68° living room.

Because of the time of year, I think its also appropriate to let folks know that even my own very well trained off leash dogs get leashed up if we're walking the beach during the morning or evening hours when it's allowed, even though there are no rules against our dogs being off the leash at the beach we frequent. We do this is to protect wildlife and prevent my dogs from disturbing nesting or resting birds and turtles. Taking a dog everywhere also means that you need to be considerate of wildlife, too!

Being considerate of the rules, other people, and wildlife is great, but have you considered how your dog feels?

It's fun to train dogs to go everywhere, especially when that includes teaching them how to swim so that they can join their owner on a boat, but not every dog wants to do that stuff. We don't know if a dog will like it until we try, but the reality for some dog owners is that the dog they have doesn't match the dog that they envision themselves having. Fortunately for Trixie's family, she loved learning to go everywhere and we had a blast teaching her how to get in and out of the canoe.

I do not support people who try to include their dogs, but set unrealistic, unreasonable expectations for them, and then when they don't meet those expectations, they stick them in the car with the windows cracked. It only takes minutes to do serious organ damage to a dog when they're left in a hot car. I post about this constantly because ignorance kills dogs. Even when you leave the car on, any vehicle, new or old, can malfunction and turn off, turning your car into an oven in a matter of minutes. And I know that not everyone is mindful of this, but the pavement gets really hot. If you're not checking the ground before going out, you may be subjecting your dog to some serious discomfort and they can't tell you it hurts. If you insist on bringing a dog out in the heat, invest in some good booties to keep their feet comfortable.

If it's not safe or practical to take your dog out with you, then don't. It's okay to leave your dog in your air conditioned home or with a trusted pet sitter. Everywhere includes your house. If you're questioning whether or not it's appropriate for your dog to come along with you, it's probably not. Leave them at home.

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