One of my favourite treats to do on a weekend, or early weekday morning, is to take an extra long walk with my dog to a local coffee shop. This often means a new route and new roads and people for my dog to discover, as well myself getting to enjoy a tasty handcrafted fancy coffee. Now in an ideal world, I would get to walk right into the coffee shop, dog in tow, and no one would bat an eye. But unfortunately we live in a world with health and safety standards when it comes to serving food and drinks, so my fateful furry walking companion has to wait outside for me. Yes that's right people. I leave my dog outside while I go inside and grab a coffee.
(these pictures are not my dog, just very adorable and well behaved dogs I found on the internet)
We are basically pros at this by now. I scope out a good spot, one that has several key factors; something sturdy to tie his leash to (a large steal garbage can, fence, or pole), a space that is not in the way of pedestrians and far enough away from any vehicles, and that has a good view of the inside of the store (this is not only so I can keep an eye on him, but so that he can see where exactly it is I went and watch for me as well). I tie him up, just loose enough that he can stand up and re-adjust his position, but tight enough that he can't move a whole body length away from the tie-up spot. I then tell him to "wait".
Now the choice of words here is crucial. I don't tell him to "STAY" because I don't expect him to, nor do I need him to sit in one particular spot and not move. By telling him to "wait', I'm letting him know that it's alright to get up and move around, maybe check your surroundings out and get some good sniffs in, but I still expect him to be
in the same geographical spot where I tied him up. He's got just enough slack on his leash that if he feels the need to move over a little bit to get more comfortable, he can, but he can't get himself into any trouble in terms of greeting people or wrapping himself up in his leash.
I'm not going to go into detail about how I trained him to wait. If you're interested in training your dog to perform this, pop on over to our training page and hit up the boss ladys Heidi and Kelli. They are amazing trainers and would love to get you on your way to having an amazing dog that is easily capable of activities such as this.
Now there are probably some of you reading this who are freaking out right now. "How could you leave your dog unattended outside like that!", "What if he hurts himself or gets all tangled up!", "He could easily slip out of his collar and get hit by a car!", "What if someone steals him!".
Now I don't blame you. I get the looks and the snide comments all the time when we go for our coffee walks. I see the people glancing at my dog as they walk into the store, mumbling to themselves and shaking their heads in obvious disapproval. What these people don't and can't see from simply looking at my waiting dog is the hours and hours we put into training so that he is able to confidently sit outside a store and wait for me, and I am able to confidently leave him there.
What they don't see is that he isn't "unattended", because where I placed him not only can I keep an eye on him, I can get to him in 5 seconds if need be. Because of our training and how I have secured him he won't hurt himself or get himself tangled up. We have passed by many a preferred coffee shops to walk further distances to others because they didn't have a close enough, visible, or secure enough spot for him to wait at. He can't slip out of his collar because we use a martingale that when sized properly is impossible for a dog to slip out of. And in terms of somebody stealing him, (again) because of where I placed him not only can I keep an eye on him, I can get to him in 5 seconds if need be. And at some point, we've got to have a little faith in humanity people.
So please. The next time you see a dog tied up outside a store take a look around before you start casting judgment. Do you notice anyone who seems to be keeping an eye on them. They are probably standing close to the door, or a window. If you don't see anyone, maybe wait around a couple of minuets, or ask inside the shop if anyone has seen the owner. Always ask permission before you pet or approach the dog. I don't mind one bit if people pet my dog, but if you don't ask me first and I'm inside wait for my coffee, I might run out the door to ask what you're doing with my dog.
But PEOPLE. DO NOT just tie your dog outside a store and leave them there for 15 minuets. I am NOT advocating for this type of behaviour. What I am saying is that if you dog has the confidence and the training to perform this type of activity, properly securing your dog so that you can run into a store for a couple minuets to grab a coffee is not the end of the world. In fact it may help build your dog's independence and give them some mental stimulation.