How to get your dog to settle in the pub

There is no stop more rewarding at the end of a dog walk than the pub, but for many dogs, it can be a challenge to settle in such a busy, food-rich environment, especially when there are lots of other dogs around. In turn, this creates a frustrating and often stressful experience for owners who are forced to spend their time adjusting the dog’s behaviour rather than enjoying that well-earned pint. There are, however, plenty of ways to keep your pup entertained in the pub and there’s preparation you can do at home to help them master relaxing in a restaurant – no matter how many steaks go by on plates. Here are our top tips for helping your dog to settle in the pub.

Written by Lottie Gross

5 minute read

Start training at home

You wouldn’t expect your dog to learn to sit, roll over or shake hands without a good grounding of training, and so the same goes for asking them to settle in the pub when you’re on holiday. Until they’ve learned that lying down quietly is the way to get rewards, they’re likely to keep pestering you or others around you for attention. At home, before you even brave a pub garden or a café terrace, get your dog used to lying at your feet around a dining table by asking them to do exactly that: stick their lead and collar or harness on, give them the down command while you sit at your table, and occasionally reward their passive behaviour from a stash of treats in your pocket.

Reward fairly regularly to begin with, but gradually lengthen the gaps between rewards until you can go for several minutes without a nose nudge or a fidgeting dog. If you notice them disengaging from you (such as looking away, or resting their head on the floor) during these gaps, reward this too, as they’ll begin to learn that they needn’t keep all their attention on you.

Once you’ve mastered this at home, it’s time to take it into the wild – head out alone so you can focus on the training and don’t order anything too involved, you’ll want to be able to keep one eye on the dog at all times while they’re still learning.

Tuck yourselves away

TV dog behaviourist Adem Fehmi, who runs positive-reinforcement training school Dog-Ease in Hertfordshire, says building up their experience over time is important. For pub visits, this could mean sitting on the far edges of a beer garden or in a tucked away corner of a restaurant before you can throw yourselves into the main heart of the action in a bar or busy café. You don't want to overwhelm your dog by insisting they sit in a chaotic environment.

It's also important to ensure you're tucked away in a safe space where the dog can lie down without causing inconvenience to passing customers or serving staff, and it means they're less likely to get distracted or excited by things happening around you.

Make them comfortable

You wouldn’t want to sit on a hard floor for several hours, so we shouldn’t expect our dogs to do it either. Certain breeds of dog don’t have the plump cushioning of a bulldog or the luxuriant, in-built rug of a retriever, so sitting or lying down on the floor can be incredibly uncomfortable. For these breeds – or for any breed, for that matter – there is no shame in bringing along a soft mat or small bed for them to get comfortable on. Not only will this help them settle faster, but it also acts as a familiar space for them to relax in. If you build in training them to settle on a mat at home first, they’ll know exactly what to do when you bring it out in the pub or at a café.

Use food dispensers

Once your dog is happily settled, you might be tempted to just leave them to snooze, but brain-engaging toys will help keep them busy, then tire them out and encourage them to remain relaxed. Use something like a stuffed kong (ideally frozen for a longer lasting experience) or a honey pot dispenser, or invest in some long-lasting chews. Licking and chewing are soothing activities for dogs, so this helps keep them happy while you're tucking into those fish and chips.

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Written by Lottie Gross

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