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Training a relaxed "cafe dog"

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Hi all! I work "from home" which preferably means from cafes, and there are a lot of dog friendly places in my city. When I first got Kevin at 8 weeks (starting about a week later - we spent the first week at home) he would fall asleep at my feet in cafes, no problem, and would sleep for a good 2 hours or so. But now at nearly 4.5 months, he is too excitable and easily stimulated to fall asleep in a cafe environment. I have stopped trying, apart from on weekends when I don't bring my laptop, but rather just a pocket full of treats and a toy or bone to keep him "focused". We don't stay for as long as I would for work and I find that I'm constantly trying to get his attention on me or to figure out ways to soothe him. He doesn't bark constantly, but he is super alert (you know that alert BC look) and will eventually get a little barky, for example if he sees people he wants to greet. Beyond that, people want to say hi to him fairly regularly so even if he had the chance to start relaxing,  it causes him to get keenly alert and stimulated again when people stop to pet him.

I'm wondering what the step 1, step 2, step 3 (and so forth) would be for training him to be able to relax at my feet in a cafe, or if my expectations are too high for a puppy his age? I know that if I want him to be able to do this as a grownup, we have to start somewhere, but I'm not really certain where/how to start. Any thoughts/experiences?

Thanks!

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Harry is 7 months old. We can only spend a short amount of time getting a coffee and sandwich. Like you, just when he relaxes another dog will come in and he will go mad to get to the other dog. Also, so many people will stop and tell us their stories with dogs. Others like to give advice. Unfortunately now, even after a long walk and we need to take a rest, Harry is still raring to go!!

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I would suggest that you are perhaps expecting too much for his age. Starting at this age is fine, but I think if I wanted a relaxed "cafe dog", which is by the way a great idea, I would start with only two minute visits to the cafe. When there, all I would do is never take my eyes off him, literally for a single moment. Not even to say hi to another person. I would watch him closely and every time he sat down he'd get a praise word or a click, and a treat. Every moment he was quiet for even 2 seconds and not barking he'd get praise and a treat. Praise and treats for every second he is behaving the way you want him to, and leave the cafe after 2 minutes, no matter how the session has gone. You will, of course, increase the length of these sessions, but not until he is calm and behaving right the majority of the time for the time period you are training. So, when he can be good for 2 minutes, make it 3. If he can be good 3 minutes, make it 4. If he can't be good for 4 minutes, go back to 2, and start again from there. Baby steps all the way. don't be constantly trying to get his attention. Just watch him and treat for good behavior. And calmly and nicely ask other people not to pet him just for now, until he has had some training, because riling him up like that will be counter-productive.

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And he may not be the social type. One of my now gone dogs, Buzz, was madly in love w/every human he saw. He did well in crowds of humans, such as outdoor cafes, etc. And even he had his limits. All the motion, sound, different scents just wore on him and within 20 minutes or so he'd had his fill of socializing  and would be ready to go home.

I'd also suggest going at less busy times for the café, and sitting off in a corner, so that your pup isn't surrounded on all sides by people coming & going, etc. It also lessens the # of people who will want to interact with him.

So, briefly, go for short periods of time. Leave before he starts to act up. Be his advocate - if you're taking him out of the café and someone wants to pet him, say, "Not now, please, I've got an appointment" and keep walking. Some people believe they are entitled to touch, pat, pick up, etc anyone else's dog. 

Off the subject, but I've seen a FB thing where a woman in a shopping mall got all bent out of shape. She asked if she and her daughter could pet some service dogs in training, they were told no. The nice doggies had on 'Service Dog In Training' vests, with 'Please Do Not Approach' on the vests as well. She went off on an epic rant, and later I read that she was threatening to sue. Entitlement knows no boundaries.

Ruth & Gibbs

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You guys give such excellent advice! We are practicing a 'settle' at every park bench we come to with the aim of one day being able to sit still for half an hour, but it is so tempting to try and stretch those few seconds/minutes. And sometimes so frustrating having a partner who can amaze you by learning a brand new trick in a couple of minutes but then can't seem to grasp that it's okay to lay quietly and watch the world go by, or that it's okay to walk somewhere instead of run or bounce. So thanks D'Elle for saying it nice and simply.

8 hours ago, urge to herd said:

Off the subject, but I've seen a FB thing where a woman in a shopping mall got all bent out of shape. She asked if she and her daughter could pet some service dogs in training, they were told no. The nice doggies had on 'Service Dog In Training' vests, with 'Please Do Not Approach' on the vests as well. She went off on an epic rant, and later I read that she was threatening to sue. Entitlement knows no boundaries.

I'm not surprised. Even with our bright 'Training' harness and lead, and even when it should be obvious that I've moved ourselves off the path of an approaching person-dog combo and am stuffing treats into panting jaws while saying 'Leave it. Look at me' I've twice had someone bring their dog over to 'say hello' and then seem very put out when we weren't happy to see them. And I had someone ask their small child if they wanted to say hello to the 'doggie'! And, what is it with people who can see you've got a dog on the lead, but still throw their dogs ball right towards you? We can watch nicely other dogs playing ball, we certainly can't cope with a ball landing near us and a strange dog running full pelt at us. Oops, I've gone off topic and started ranting.

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11 hours ago, D'Elle said:

I would suggest that you are perhaps expecting too much for his age. Starting at this age is fine, but I think if I wanted a relaxed "cafe dog", which is by the way a great idea, I would start with only two minute visits to the cafe. When there, all I would do is never take my eyes off him, literally for a single moment. Not even to say hi to another person. I would watch him closely and every time he sat down he'd get a praise word or a click, and a treat. Every moment he was quiet for even 2 seconds and not barking he'd get praise and a treat. Praise and treats for every second he is behaving the way you want him to, and leave the cafe after 2 minutes, no matter how the session has gone.

This is great - we were discussing whether or not we would be wiser to "wait it out" and see if he gets better after a longer period, or if we ought to do a shorter time and this confirms the shorter period idea. Kevin's new cafe lessons shall begin this weekend! :)  

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14 hours ago, urge to herd said:

And he may not be the social type. One of my now gone dogs, Buzz, was madly in love w/every human he saw. He did well in crowds of humans, such as outdoor cafes, etc. And even he had his limits. All the motion, sound, different scents just wore on him and within 20 minutes or so he'd had his fill of socializing  and would be ready to go home.

I'd also suggest going at less busy times for the café, and sitting off in a corner, so that your pup isn't surrounded on all sides by people coming & going, etc. It also lessens the # of people who will want to interact with him.

So, briefly, go for short periods of time. Leave before he starts to act up. Be his advocate - if you're taking him out of the café and someone wants to pet him, say, "Not now, please, I've got an appointment" and keep walking. Some people believe they are entitled to touch, pat, pick up, etc anyone else's dog. 

Off the subject, but I've seen a FB thing where a woman in a shopping mall got all bent out of shape. She asked if she and her daughter could pet some service dogs in training, they were told no. The nice doggies had on 'Service Dog In Training' vests, with 'Please Do Not Approach' on the vests as well. She went off on an epic rant, and later I read that she was threatening to sue. Entitlement knows no boundaries.

Ruth & Gibbs

As a child we had a dog, who my brother called Buzz. She was a girl. Still miss her 40 years later.

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We find our eight month old is still highly excited by other humans and wants to play. However, my friend and my daughter have persevered by coming in with head held high, arms folded and no eye contact until he lies down. He still gets excited but will lie down and ‘swim’ on the floor around their feet lol! 

I’m going to persevere with other folks now and ask them not to talk or fuss him until he lies down. It’s really really hard training other HUMANS!

As for cafes, dogs are not allowed in them here but I have taken him a couple of times to a nursing home and several different types of stores. He finds the experience completely overwhelming so I have scaled back to much shorter experiences (as already suggested above). 

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17 hours ago, urge to herd said:

I've seen a FB thing where a woman in a shopping mall got all bent out of shape. She asked if she and her daughter could pet some service dogs in training, they were told no. The nice doggies had on 'Service Dog In Training' vests, with 'Please Do Not Approach' on the vests as well. She went off on an epic rant, and later I read that she was threatening to sue. Entitlement knows no boundaries.

Sometimes I think the whole country has gone insane. 

And as the quote goes: "except, of course, for me and thee, and sometimes I wonder about thee."

1 hour ago, ShellyF said:

It’s really really hard training other HUMANS!

The dogs are ALWAYS easier to train than the human beings.

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You can also practice at home, asking just a couple seconds/minutes of quietly lying at your feet at the table for instance. When it goes well you can increase.
My dog learned to do this at home first before she could do it "in the outside world" as well. I think starting outside a cafe will be easier then inside, if you can find a quiet corner. Unless there is a lot of foot traffic, then you might have to fight off the people who want to pet your cute pup! My dog is 3 and I can take her almost everywhere, but I still always make sure to pick a spot where there aren't a lot of distractions, a nice corner I can stuff the dog in and she can sleep and no one will notice her. 
She definitely couldn't do this as a pup, I think it took us at least a year before she was mature enough to stay for longer periods of time at places like that. 

She wears a harness that says "don't pet" for the times I don't want people to interact with her, when I take her on the train for example. Luckily most people respect it, some people think they should talk to her instead... "I'm sorry your harness says I am not allowed to pet you..."  I am trying to teach her not to get so distracted by people (she is SUCH a flirt) but people make it so darn hard for us.

People can be clueless and annoying.

The other day a man came up to me with a Golden Retriever on a leash whilst I stood a ways off the cycling lane, dog on lead, clearly not open to interaction, just got off the phone. Goldie was very rude and I was holding my bike and couldn't really get away so I dropped my leash so my dog could move away if she wanted. The guy PICKED UP MY LEASH and held it for a bit before I asked if I could have my dog back. 

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Teaching a dog to settle and just chill out wherever you want him to is a great idea and something that should be in every dog's repertoire.

One thing I'd suggest is to start training this with whatever cue you want to use for it at home and/or in a less distracting environment first, or at least concurrently. Behaviors like this are more easily taught with fewer distractions and then can be transferred to other locations and situations.

Also remember that dogs are generally speaking situational learners, i.e. they tend to associate a learned behavior with the location where they learned it, and often initially won't understand that it's applicable somewhere, or anywhere, else. This is a big reason why so many people get frustrated with their dogs -- e.g. I taught Fido not to jump up on people at home with the family but when we go for walk he jumps up on every single person we meet. He so stupid; he just won't listen.

The problem in examples like this is that the dog did learn not to jump up when he's at home, but didn't understand and wasn't taught that he's not supposed to jump on people anywhere else as well. The majority of dogs need to have the same behavior taught in different locations and under different circumstances, what's called "proofing" the behavior, before they understand for example that sit means sit and no puling on the leash mans no pulling, etc. at home, on the sidewalk, in the vet's office and in any other location that it's requested. The same's true for settling at the cafe. If you want him to learn the general concept of settling, you'll have to do it in many locations until he's consistently complying (or offering it) anywhere you ask for it.

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4 hours ago, ShellyF said:

 

I’m going to persevere with other folks now and ask them not to talk or fuss him until he lies down. It’s really really hard training other HUMANS!

Humans tend to be fairly certain that they know everything. Dogs, on the other hand, are willing to turn themselves inside out for a tiny piece of food. Or a good head scratch. Or  . . . .  Yes, dogs are easier.

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On 1/4/2019 at 5:52 PM, GentleLake said:

The same's true for settling at the cafe. If you want him to learn the general concept of settling, you'll have to do it in many locations until he's consistently complying (or offering it) anywhere you ask for it.

Yes, wise! We have practiced this a little bit at home, actually using the cue "cafe" (cause why not?) when he settles at my feet under the table. We're hoping that hearing that enough will help at the actual cafe!

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It will help him to learn this much faster if you offer some sort of reward. A tiny morsel of food (you could have a few treats at the table to be prepared) delivered at floor level so he doesn't have to get up to receive it or at the very least some calm petting that isn't arousing.

If he's too aroused by these things at first you may have to ignore him or maybe use a neutral sounding "aaaah" or "uh oh" and repeat it several times until it becomes routine, but it really should speed up the learning process in the long run. You should soon be able to drop a treat on the floor near enough that he doesn't have to move out of position to get it.

You can also teach him to settle in place by teaching him to go to his bed or a mat or towel on the floor and staying for increasing lengths of time. I've taught a "bed" (some people use "mat" or "place" as the cue) and then added whatever cue for settle when the dog starts relaxing on her own out of boredom on the mat. For some dogs having a physical something to lie on helps a lot. I've used a piece of my clothing or even a handkerchief when I've been away from home and didn't have anything else to send them to, but it worked like a charm. Funny to see medium to large dogs go to their "beds" on a handkerchief!

Have fun, and wishing you success.

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My dear Pivo has his issues, but one of the things we almost inadvertently trained in him was being a "bar dog" (we live in New Orleans and Spain, so he's a bar dog). He knows that when he goes into a bar or sits outside, he needs to find and out of the way spot and chill. He does. He says hi to regulars but no one else.

This behavior was solidified pretty early on. We went through a period of stopping at a bar for a quick beer on our daily walks from the time Pivo was a pup. After a 3-5 miles walk, he was pretty tired, so when we'd stop, he would usually curl up and sleep. He also found a spot out of the way because it was a narrow sidewalk and he got annoyed at us always moving him/waking him up. We never stayed longer than about 20-30 mins (one drink basically). We stopped doing it because this particular bar's happy hour deal ($1 pints of PBR) stopped being offered, but the conditioning was in place without us realizing it.

I suggest finding smaller cafes, with less distraction, and getting him a tad bit tired first and then spending no more than 20 minutes (or less) to start and going from there.

I should note that I have a fairly reactive dog when it comes to certain things (skateboards particularly). The bar is the only place a skateboard can come inches from my dog's face and he doesn't budge. He is so relaxed at the bar that he usually falls asleep within minutes of arrival (this only became true as he got older, but you get the idea). In Spain, he's allowed inside of bars, and the behavior is the same. I'm shocked he generalized it that way, but he did.

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1 hour ago, WaveProfesora said:

 

He is so relaxed at the bar that he usually falls asleep within minutes of arrival (this only became true as he got older, but you get the idea). In Spain, he's allowed inside of bars, and the behavior is the same. I'm shocked he generalized it that way, but he did.

I bet the smell of beer and wine tips him off that it's a good place to snooze!:D

Ruth & Gibbs

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46 minutes ago, WaveProfesora said:

We joke that that question is the "That'll do" for the humans. 

Except that "that'll do" is usually meant to be the opposite, to stop whatever you're doing and and, often, come back. At least that's the way it's used among sheepdog folks. ;)

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