“I Would Like a Doggie Bag for Here”

by Stephanie Noordewier

Popping out of purses and relaxing on a leash in an outside café, dogs are ever present in the human social fabric. For those of us who want our handbag, our camera and our dogs with us everywhere we go, we know it is a challenge negotiating their place in business and retail stores in the community. Who says shopping, working and traveling can’t be done with your best friend?

He doesn’t always have to wait outside

Most retail outlets do. Many established businesses get nervous because of the liability associated with having dogs on the premises.

As a growing number of households bring in pets to love, cultivating a dog friendly environment in the business world is becoming more relevant and realistic. Now is the time to diplomatically argue our side of the story.  We need to unite and make sure our doggies are following the rules. The better your dog behaves, the more likely a business is to bend (or even change!) the rules.

First things first: no loud barking, no running, no potty accidents, and no biting! Teach your dog to be business friendly. Make sure he is calm, clean, and charismatic. Barking and growling at fellow customers isn’t going to be good for any business.

Next, when patronizing spas or restaurants that offer you the doggy environment, make sure to tip well. Give them real gratitude. If you reward good behavior with a good tip and your continued patronage, other businesses will notice and want in.

Work is a little trickier, because you can’t have distractions interfering with what you are being paid to do. With that said, if you give a well-trained dog a comfy bed with water and food and take him on short walks on your breaks, it might allow him to adjust and relax as if he were at home. Consider this: if you demonstrate that a happy employee is a very productive employee, it will be harder for your boss to say goodbye to your dog. A good boss won’t want to discourage a hard worker.

With the growing trend of pet inclusion (viewing pets as part of the family and part of our daily lives), it makes sense that their presence at our routine locations would also grow. Heightened awareness for animal rights has also caused a new sensation: lots of people are warming up to our dogs. Still, though you love your dog like family, not everyone is going to love him as much as you do. If your dog is still training or uncomfortable around people, don’t ruin it for the rest of us. One angry dog is all it will take to get a nasty ban on dogs in public space.

The best rule of thumb when debating whether or not dogs are welcome in a business is to at least try to take your dog inside. Most of the time, you and your dog will be welcomed and assisted. Simply look for a dog-friendly sign in the door, and if there is no sign indicating either way, give the business a shot and have some fun out with him in your world. Maybe eventually the menus and boutiques will offer canine-friendly options, so he can enjoy the outing as much as you do!

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