Tag Archives: dogs in public

Hair of the Dog: NYC Dog Training, Safety, and Beer

In lieu of this week’s blog post, I bring you a podcast. Why? Because I’m the guest this week!

If you’ve ever seen Drunk History on Comedy Central, this podcast is just like that except we’re talking about all things dog. The podcast is Hair of the Dog, and the guest gets to pick the alcohol of choice. Since the hosts are huge fans of beer, I chose my favorite beer. Sarah picked up that beer and two related beers (all excellent), I made dinner and we did a tasting.

If you like to listen to podcasts while you walk the dog, you can listen to me on this week’s episode of Hair Of The Dog here.

Hair Of The Dog

Want more podcasts? Here are my favorite podcasts to listen to while out strolling with Grayson:

Invisibilia – About the Invisible Forces that Control Human Behavior

Radiolab –  Science meets human interest meets great storytelling

Science Vs – Science takes on hot topics. So far they’ve covered attachment parenting, fracking, and gun control. What they find might surprise you!

The Longest Shortest Time – A parenting podcast for everyone

The Modern Dog Trainer Podcast – Tips for dog trainers

ABA Inside Track – A podcast about Applied Behavior Analysis and recent research in the field.

TED Radio Hour – Ted Talks in Podcast form

Cheers!

Dog Friendly NYC Restaurants – The East Pole

Welcome to my new summer series “Dog Friendly NYC Restaurants”. Thanks to a new bill that was passed in 2015, restaurateurs are now legally able to invite pups to dine at their establishments. Dogs must be on leash, but are allowed to relax tableside in outdoor areas. NY is still a long way from reaching the dog friendly status Parisians enjoy, but this is a step in the right direction! In the summer Evan and I refuse to go to dinner without Grayson. We’re thrilled there are now many more dining options for the WHOLE family and have been spending our Friday and Saturday evenings finding the best of the best.

Beautiful Golden Retriever sits leash free inside cafe while we eat breakfast. (Paris, 2013)

Beautiful Golden Retriever sits leash free inside cafe while we eat breakfast. Cafe creme, crepes, et un chien. (Paris, 2013)

In this series Grayson and I will let you know where to go. We’ll rate each restaurant’s food quality, service, and dog friendly nature. Grayson will let you know how quickly the servers brought him water, if he was offered a biscuit or special treat, and how thrilled the staff was to see him. The first restaurant we are reviewing is one of my new favorites where I’ve spent 2 of the past 4 Friday evenings.


The East Pole

5.0         |            5.0           |        6.0

food                 service                dog


Neighborhood: Upper East Side
Cuisine: New American, Farm to Table, Vegetarian and Vegan Options
Price: $$$

Water for Grayson: Immediately
Treat for Grayson: Bacon
Love for Grayson: From 100% of the staff

Must Try: Grilled Shishito Peppers with Citrus Salt, Daikon and Fried Barcat Oyster Salad, Striped Bass, Reginetti Pasta, Goat Cheese Cheesecake

eastpole

Located in a Brownstone on E 65th St between Lexington and park, The East Pole is the perfect place to bring your dog before or after a romp in nearby Central Park. The outdoor seating area is depressed, so your pup won’t be eye to eye with dogs passing on the sidewalk. If you have just taught Fido to settle calmly on a mat but haven’t tested his skills at an outdoor restaurant yet, I recommend starting here because of the reduced visual distractions.

When you arrive you will be greeted by Dennis, a talented multidisciplinary artist known in the neighborhood for his bold fashion statements. Dennis is an anomaly, and at first you might question why he is the host at this upscale farm to table restaurant on the UES. Let him take you on a journey. His character reflects everything that is great about this hidden gem. Allow people (and vegetables!) to express themselves eloquently and you will find divine flavor seeping into your life.

The dogs come first here. Before we began our evening with cocktails and the chef’s amuse bouche – radishes dressed in olive tapenade and olive oil (you will ask for a second portion) – Dennis asked us if Grayson was allowed to eat bacon. Of course! The chef fried some up and brought him out his own plate. Yes, Grayson got his own plate of bacon. Six out of five stars automatically awarded to the dog friendly category.

There is a creative cocktail list and an extensive wine list, and it’s hard to make a bad choice. The food here is just as I love it – fresh and organic, enhanced by carefully selected oils, vinegars, and spices. I am a big believer that the best food starts with high quality ingredients prepared by a great chef who knows when to leave those ingredients alone. The East Pole makes me remember the garden tomatoes of my youth, salted and consumed straight off the vine in the afternoon sun. You can taste the local (and see the local on their map of purveyors).

While we have only been to The East Pole for dinner, their brunch also looks divine. Soon we’ll be sipping peach bellini’s after off leash time in Central Park. I have my eye on the Maine Lobster sandwich.

NYC Dogs Are Not Traveling Petting Zoos

NYC Dogs Are Not Traveling Petting Zoos

My pup Grayson is pretty cute, if I do say so myself. Even though he’s four, many people still think he’s a puppy and many people want to touch him. Some people ask permission, but most do not. The first time I took him to a public dog park, within 5 seconds a total stranger picked him up. I am often the person saying “Please stop touching my dog!”. This happened most recently at Deux Amis, where my husband, my dog, and I go for dinner most Friday nights in the summer. Grayson settles on the mat I bring for him, and he earns his bread and butter (and filet mignon) by staying relaxed on it — see video below. I don’t want him to learn that leaving his mat gets him attention and free food from other patrons. I’m glad we’re surrounded by fellow dog lovers who think he’s cute, but he’s not a traveling petting zoo. These table neighbors are ruining our training and his future behavior, making it harder for me to take him into public. Touching an animal that doesn’t belong to you is inappropriate.

 

 

I fully believe in training our dogs to behave appropriately in public and to help them feel safe and comfortable in all of the human centric environments they will encounter. Strangers approaching without asking makes it much harder for me to accomplish this task.

Even if I’m with a dog who behaves politely in public, dogs don’t speak English so he can’t advocate for himself. We expect our dogs to not only tolerate but to love every interaction that is forced up on them. Yes – forced – they are on the end of a leash and can’t get away. Many dogs tolerate interactions but give off stress signals that are unread and ignored. I don’t think this is reasonable or fair. There are plenty of reasons our dogs shouldn’t have to endure certain situations. It’s up to us to speak up for them.

Here’s why you shouldn’t touch a dog you don’t know without asking permission:
  1. He could be training (learning to settle, learning to ignore people or dogs, learning to sit for pets, learning how to walk, insert behavior here: X)
  2. He could not be in training but need to be in training (just because he’s in public doesn’t mean his owners are responsible)
  3. It might be a puppy going through proactive socialization
  4. He could be stressed out, fearful, or aggressive (see #1 and #2)
    • He could not like strangers, the bag you’re carrying, the skateboard you rode in on, the suitcase you’re dragging, the smell of your cat on your clothing, the fact that you’re loud and wobbling around tipsy, etc. etc. etc.
    • He could not like being touched
    • You have a dog with you he might not like, might be scared of, or might behave inappropriately with (barking/lunging/over aroused greetings, etc.)
  5. He could be sick, in pain, or recovering from surgery
  6. You’re modeling dangerous behavior for your kids (who are more likely to get a bite to the face if they run up to and grab/pet a dog without asking)
  7. Your toddler is running around and/or screaming and it’s freaking the dog out (just because your kid is in public doesn’t mean they’re behaving appropriately)
  8. He’s about to go potty and his owner doesn’t want you to interrupt him
  9. His owner doesn’t feel like interacting with strangers right now
  10. He could have limited sight or hearing
  11. He’s not your dog

 

Before I was a dog trainer, I was that obnoxious stranger on the street stopping to pet your dog and hold you hostage while I went at it with your furry friend on the leash, so… I GET IT. Dogs are CUTE and interacting with them makes everything better.  At the time, I was a professional dancer whose constant anxiety about life and making a decent living in my chosen profession was ruining my mental health. I didn’t have a dog, and I really really needed one. When I quit dancing, it was my then-boyfriend/now-husband who suggested I walk dogs while I figured out my next moves. Since then, I built and ran a dog walking company while simultaneously getting an education in training and behavior and have taken on progressively more challenging cases as my education and experience allows. Here in NYC I have worked with puppies, with dogs who are reactive to other dogs, and dogs who bite strangers. “Don’t Touch” vests, “In Training” vets, DINOS (dogs in need of space) gear, yellow dog project ribbons – all of these visual cues meant to instruct strangers to leave these dogs alone are often ignored. Telling people to please stop approaching or stop petting earns eye rolls and shouted profanities. I have had to walk a mile out of my way to avoid other dog owners who insist their illegally off leash dogs need to greet my legally on leash ones to keep the dog I’m working under threshold.

I have had to learn the most effective ways to get strangers to leave me and my dogs alone. Here they are:
  1. Telling a stranger “he’s sick and contagious” usually works even for the rudest of rude people, because it gives them a reason to stay away that they care about. Strangers don’t care if they ruin your training but they do care about getting sick.
  2. If the dog I’m working has a solid leave it behavior, I will tell the dog to “leave it” – the stranger is the “it” they leave while we walk on by. If they don’t have a leave it and we are outside, they likely have a hand target or eye contact behavior. I will ask the dog to hand target, to look at me, to go find a treat I’ve tossed in the opposite direction, or to do anything incompatible to interacting with the stranger.
  3. If I am in the middle of a training exercise and clearly and obviously actively training a dog, sometimes I have no choice but to pretend like the person does not exist. So often I am working a client dog outside when a stranger approaches and starts talking to me or the dog. The rate at which this happens while I am obviously training (treat bag out, clicking and treating rapidly, dog doing behaviors) is actually quite astounding. In this situation, I drop my criteria for the behavior and increase my rate of reinforcement since the stranger is now a huge distraction. My focus is on my dog, the criteria we’re working at, my timing, and my treat delivery. It’s not on the stranger.
  4. If I am working with a dog for whom getting close to a stranger is not an option (due to fear, aggression, or for whom getting close to a stranger will elicit or reinforce pulling or jumping up) I simply turn around and walk the other way without comment. I might feed the dog while doing so – not as a training strategy but as a distraction or to prevent unwanted behavior in a pinch.
  5. I am not going to abandon a dog mid-session to meet a stranger’s needs. My responsibility is to the dog I am with. I have worked with dogs who are triggered by their handler talking to a stranger. In this situation, I literally can’t stop and talk to the stranger while I am with the dog. If I do, the dog will bark and lunge, and that causes a huge training setback for us. It’s not worth it. I have gotten on an elevator at floor 25 and rode all the way down to floor 1, facing the wall and pretending like the stranger does not exist for the entire ride.
  6. If I am in the middle of a training session and the dog has the skill, I sometimes put the dog in a down or sit stay so that I can turn to the stranger and point out to them that we are in the middle of training and it’s not a good time.
  7. Body blocking can help prevent strangers from physically touching the dog I’m with. If the stranger is very pushy, this doesn’t always work so I prefer to just get away from the person. I have had strangers reach around my body to touch a dog I have in a sit stay behind me in the corner of the elevator after I have asked them not to approach. (Elevators are so hard!)
  8. Putting out your hand in a “STOP” sign and stating firmly “please do not approach” or “please call your dog” while body blocking or just before turning to walk away sometimes gets the message across. If I can, I will sometimes hold a hand out while I am training to try to silently convey this message.

It shouldn’t need to be said, but I’ll say it. Aggressive dogs shouldn’t be going out to restaurants with their owners. Any dog with a bite history should be muzzled if they are in public. Owners should be responsible. But sometimes they’re not, and sometimes they’re not in the mood to talk to you, and sometimes they’re proactively training or retroactively working on a behavior modification protocol. Please, read the situation and if you’re asked to leave the dog alone – do so without an attitude. You expect dogs to behave politely and appropriately in public, and you should too.