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How to Keep Your Dog Calm in Public

Share your tips for a chance to win treats for your dog

If your dog is hyper when visiting new places, there is hope!

The key is lots of exercise, lots of patience and to slowly bring your dog to more and more places over time.

I lucked out with my dog Ace because for the most part I can bring him anywhere and he is relatively calm.

I like taking him to coffee shops and restaurants, dog friendly bars and outdoor events. In the San Diego area, there are a lot of opportunities to do these things.

But, some dogs are a little more challenging in public places.

I thought I’d share my tips for helping a dog stay calm and behaved in public, but I want to hear from you, too.

5 Tips to keep your dog calm when out in public

1. Lots of exercise beforehand!

If you want your dog to be calmer out in public, try exercising her a lot more. If you’re currently walking her for 30 minutes a day, start walking her for an hour. Not just the morning before you take her somewhere, but every day that you possibly can.

A lot of dogs just have so much pent-up energy from weeks or months of not enough exercise. Their owners don’t even realize it, but if the dogs just got more exercise, they’d naturally be a lot calmer when out and about.

2. Use a collar that makes your dog easier to handle.

My dog wearing his Gentle Leader San Diego Beerworks

This is another issue that puzzles me, along with a lack of exercise. Why do people insist on using regular collars when their dogs pull so much? Do they think they’ll be judged for using a prong collar? Are they hesitant to spend $15 on a Gentle Leader or a no-pull harness?

The Gentle Leader is my default collar because it minimizes my dog’s pulling more than anything else I’ve tried.

My dog is well behaved and I am a good trainer, but I still like to use certain collars to minimize his pulling when we’re out in public. It makes the experience more relaxing and enjoyable, and it means my dog gets to tag along more often.

And ditch the retractable leash for now. OK, maybe for good. 🙂

3. Carry highly valued treats.

Keep dog calm in public

Another tip that seems obvious, right? But few people actually bring treats.

And not just any treats! Oh no, dry dog biscuits just won’t cut it for most dogs. You should find something your dog is willing to work for.

4. Lots of practice over weeks and months.

We all want our dogs to behave perfectly right away, but it’s not fair to bring them to a busy outdoor restaurant and expect them to behave if we haven’t taken them to quieter places to practice first.

A good place to start is a quiet park with picnic tables. Just sit down with your dog and maybe a coffee, and work on keeping your dog in a “stay” with mild distractions. If it’s not going well, you can always leave.

Another option, once your dog has had more practice, is a coffee shop with outdoor seating during a quieter time or maybe a casual, fast-food type place as long as it’s not too busy.

I try to sit on an end as far away from all the commotion as possible. I also like to keep my body between my dog and the most likely source of distraction. If I expect people to be walking by on one side, I have him lie down and stay on the other side, preferably under the table or against a wall or other barrier. Then I give him treats to encourage calm behavior and focus.

If your dog is having a hard time, you can always take your coffee and go.

5. Practice lots of basic obedience.

People are always emailing me to ask how they can get their dog to stop barking at other dogs or how they can stop their dog from freaking out in public.

It often comes down to basic obedience.

If your dog will listen to you and stay when told, then you are ahead of 99 percent of other dog owners. Another good command to work on is “watch me” where you reward your dog for eye contact. If you practice those two things every day in various environments, I bet you’ll see some noticeable progress.

Every time you work with your dog, you are reinforcing a positive relationship, which only helps your dog pay attention to you in more challenging environments.

Green Bark Gummies dog treats
Ace with Green Bark Gummies dog treats

How does your dog behave while you’re out in public? Naughty or calm or somewhere in between?

Let me know in the comments!

Tips for Traveling as a Digital Nomad With Your Pet | Pet Friendly Travel

Wednesday 7th of June 2023

[…] wherever you go, it is essential to keep their behavior in check. This means training them to be calm and obedient in public spaces and making sure that they are not a nuisance to […]

melody Tryon

Wednesday 17th of August 2022

Yeah how to get my dog howl to stop jerking me around on the leash it seems like I bring thrown around lot I just want him to sit still while pay for things I feel like my arm is going to fall off at times u sure bring treat good idea it's more look around at stuff in the dollar store then when I pay for something he just tags me to fast when my husband and yell no I just don't feel like it's right thing do we just this tag thing to stop the tag thing happens to me and when my husband is working that's when the anxcity starts at dollar store I just want howl to sit and wait me to check training him to be service dog for us my husband low blood sugar I have anxcity attacks but when husband is back home at night everything is normal but then that's when our dog miss beave at me the most I really need help I get mad I don't like yelling at our dog our a little slap on the butt I grow up knowing it's wrong to do that we do take away his toys and treats when gets to jumping around I mostly play with I feel like jumping is bad it out fault that we did that now we are surfing's and feel like bad owners howl well beaved with me and my husband why me all jumping and tagging I at times I am one is failing we both bad for yelling I don't feel good yelling at our dog we just go to the kennel that's it it's seems like we can't eat at dinner time together cause he begs and it's wrong and we went teach dog not to bag at places or my parents place so if u are reading this we don't have the money to do this at all and I feel like our dog going to fail at bring service dog out apartment allows small dogs howl more adult puppy dog it's hard to tell and confused me at this dog training


Sunday 5th of April 2015

My pup loves these treats.


Saturday 4th of April 2015

I just thinking the other day how well these treats work to get my dog's attention when out for a walk! She loves them, which is great since she's so reactive to other dogs when out for walks, it completely distracts her!


Friday 3rd of April 2015

Such a wonderful post!