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Shopping Etiquette for Dogs

Author: Nicole Stewart | Date: October 4, 2013

Shopping, traditionally, is a human activity.  I don’t think you really see wild dogs, wolves, or our local coyotes headed to the mall to check out the latest collars or Apple products.  There is an argument to be made that scavenging is a form of shopping, but the lack of wallets, and, let’s face it, opposable thumbs for credit card scanning really takes true shopping out of their realm.

It’s not very often we see this:

That doesn’t mean that they don’t get to experience shopping.  We love to take them with us.  In fact, when socializing a puppy, I like people to visit many new environments in the second eight weeks of the puppy’s life.  The reason for this is twofold:

  • To get them experienced in a variety of new places which creates a more confident puppy down the line.
  • To acclimate them to things that will be expected of them in their lives with humans.

We humans expect a lot of our dogs, often without doing the work it takes to get them used to things at an early age.

One of those experiences we expect them to handle is to go to a store (usually and store geared at dog equipment/food) and act appropriately with people, other dogs, and the good-smelling retail all around.

I encourage clients to get their dog used to keeping focused on them in the store and not saying hi to people or dogs.  If they get to greet someone, it should be a bonus, not something they can’t live without.

We hold a class called Field Trip during the summer.  In this class, we meet each week in a new location where the goal is to work a specific, real-world behavior.  One of the weeks, we meet at a retail store aimed at dogs because they are generally dog-friendly places.

The rules of this day’s class are as follows:

  • Keep your dog near you and on a shorter leash that you normally would.
  • When they start to get distracted by food, a person, or a dog, use their name to get their attention on you. Reward them when they look at you while you train this behavior in this environment.
  • Don’t let dogs meet in the store.  Usually the stores shopping areas are narrow and very close corners.  This is a recipe for disaster when two dogs are going to meet.
  • When you go to pay, put your dog in “park” (step on the leash so your dog has enough room to stand, sit down, or lie down, but not enough room to jump or wander) so they aren’t able to wander while your attention is on paying and talking to the person behind the desk.

I recommend people make a habit of doing the above things when they go shopping with their dog.  This way, everyone stays successful.  We did just that for class, and the shop owner was so impressed with the behavior of the dogs.  Her experience in the past had been that when more than two dogs is in the store, trouble has a tendency to brew, so this example of well-behaved dogs was a new and surprising experience for her.

Where is your favorite place to take your dog to shop?



We would now go anywhere in the greater Chicagoland area (we’d probably stop at state lines) to take these classes.

Kelly F. | View Client Testimonials


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