When Should Your Dog Go With You? When Should Your Dog Stay Home?

My recent post on Dogs in Church drew a very thoughtful comment from Ms. Wild Dingo of the blog, Wild Dingo. She starts out talking about seeing dogs in public places (such as stores) being bored and restless. She goes on to note: “we as dog lovers have to respect that not everyone likes dogs. to bring them into public, they should be able to be ignored just like most people ignore strangers other than a polite hello.”

I love having my dogs with me. But in thinking about this comment, I realized that I have a very carefully thought out set of questions I ask myself before deciding if I will bring my dog with me and or if she will stay home:

Dog in Canoe

Keep paddling. We need to be back in time for dinner.

Are Dogs Allowed?

I can’t imagine why anyone would care if a dog was in a rental canoe. But I don’t assume everyone else feels the same way. Some of the local state parks don’t allow dogs in their rental canoes while many of the private outfitters do. Before taking our dogs somewhere new, we always call to confirm they’ll be welcome.

Will My Dog Enjoy This Activity?

I do not need to have Honey with me every moment of the day–especially if the cost is her discomfort, boredom, or fear. I don’t personally feel that walking on slippery floors in a crowded store is enjoyable for most dogs. But hiking, boating, even walking around the outskirts of an outdoor flea market with all the food and smells? Much more fun.

Can My Dog Behave Appropriately in This Setting?

I’ve occasionally taken my dogs to dine in outdoor cafes–most commonly when we’re on vacation. I love getting up and hearing from the neighboring table, “Oh, they have a dog with them. I didn’t even know she was there!”

Can I Change Plans Once We Get There if Things Don’t Work Out?

Golden Retriever Puppy in Life Jacket

I like the spiffy jacket. Do I have to ride in the boat to wear it?

The first time I took Honey kayaking, we went with friends. I had to explain to them that Honey and I were not going to make the entire trip with them. Since it was her first time, I wanted Honey to have a short and fun experience.

Luckily they were indulgent and I had toys and a lawn chair so we could enjoy the view of the water from terra firma when Honey had boated long enough.

Will My Presence With Honey Cause Great Upset To Someone Else?

My mother is afraid of dogs. And although she’ll admire Honey from a distance, she doesn’t want to pet her or feel a fawning wet nose on her leg. That’s her right. And she shouldn’t have to worry about being afraid of finding a large, off-leash German Shepherd in her local hardware story (true story!).

On the rare occasions when we take Honey to dine outdoors with us, we choose off hours when a restaurant is likely to be uncrowded and we can sit quietly off in a corner and remain unnoticed by most of the diners. But we’re even more likely to get lunch to go and enjoy a picnic in a park somewhere.

Can Honey Learn Something or Become Better Socialized If I Take Her With Me?

When Honey was a puppy, our local mall had a “Dog Day” where they invited dog businesses to set up tables and dogs were welcome in the mall (although not individual stores). Because Honey was in her critical socialization window for learning new things, I jumped at this chance. This was a great opportunity for Honey to be exposed to crowds of strangers, slippery floors, and lots of smells. We kept the visit short to make sure Honey wasn’t over tired.

Will I Be Able to Focus on Honey So I Can Know When She’s Had Enough?

Ultimately, my first responsibility is to protect my dog. If I can’t have most of my attention on Honey, she’s probably better off sleeping at home after a long walk or play time.

How do you decide if your dog will go with you or if he will stay home? What is the strangest place you’ve ever taken your dog? Have you ever taken her somewhere and regretted it?

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  1. Mike Webster says:

    I can vouch that you go through all this, and then some. :)

    One more question, provoked by our observations in various parking lots, that you could write about: Can I/Must I/Should I/Will I leave Honey in the car unattended during the proposed trip?

    To dismiss the most irresponsible possibility out of hand, let’s immediately address any day when the outside air temperature is over, say, about 50 degrees F and the sun is shining, rapidly heating the interiors of greenhouses and any other glassed-in boxes, including cars with shut windows. Then, No. Many times No.

    Having dispensed with that notion, any other thoughts on if, when, or under what condition Honey or any other dog might spend some time in a vehicle alone?