Dogs Welcome? Or Are Dogs Unwanted?

I've long supported the goal of being able to take pets wherever makes sense.

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One advantage of allowing dogs at restaurants is for the business. It's another way to attract customers, and these days, for many restaurants that's important.

So, depending on your perspective, you can either blame me or thank me, as I am a force behind the city of Chicago (and State of Illinois) allowing restaurants who so desire to welcome dogs on patios and sidewalk cafes (It's Chicago, so the restaurants have to pay a license to for the privilege). 

At story in the Washington Post, speaks to the doggy divide. Some people are thrilled by the prospects of taking the dog to art fairs, festivals, concerts and other public events as well as into retail stores. However, not every one feels dogs should be welcome.

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At this Yappy Hour event at a Boston Hotel, it's great fun for the public. Turning a cocktail hour into a dog party. However, could this be trouble waiting to happen. Looks cute, and turned out fine, but giving little girls to give cookies to the dogs, who don't know one another. . . I bet dog behaviorists are cringing. I know I did.

As much as I am an advocate, it has to make sense, I  do have some rules:

- What's best for the animal? A dog at at an air show? Or even a food festival? Maybe not. For sure not the air show, too loud and would freak out the vast majority of dogs. At a food fest...well, too much to scarf down drops to the concrete. Snatch up one errant chicken bone, and your dog could be visiting the vet hours later.
 
- How well socialized is your dog? Not only must dogs at public events be great with people (including children, of course), but also other dogs attending a public event.

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This dog emits a deep throaty growl as he is approached. Maybe not a good to take him?

For some dogs, even those who are friendly, it's just too much commotion. If your dog doesn't take well to strangers coming up to pet, or small children (you can't depend on them asking you, 'Can I pet your dog?') or other canines greeting with sniffs - forget about taking the dog. It's not fair to those attending the event, or to your dog. And what if something bad happens? Can't tell you how many times a dog growls at a person or another dog, and then the handler offers, "He's just having a bad day." Ridiculous. Don't take the dog. 

- If we're talking about going into a retail stores, obviously all the above still matters- the dog has to be friendly. Also, house-trained! Some dogs may be house trained to your house, but not understand they can't relieve themselves indoors at other places.

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Going out, well, it means looking good, getting dressed up.

- Weather...Is it too hot or too cold. In warm days, be sure to bring water. In the winter, some dogs may require a coat or sweater.   

Be realistic - sometimes people can't see their own dogs for who are they are.

The Post story points out that in many European countries dogs are taken many more places, with far fewer issues. There are several reasons for that, i think, primarily it's the way dogs are socialized to the being a part of the world from the time they're pretty young, and most are also well-trained.

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Some cats really do enjoy being out and about, many do not. For those that don't mind, it's terrific enrichment.

And let's not forget about cats! You can socialize cats when they're young to the real world. And some cats, at any age, love going for walks on a leash and harness or in a kitty stroller. But taking a cat to a raucous public event, and with dogs barking, may not bet a good idea.

No question - pet owners often like to show off their pets, and simply be with family members, which include pets. However, remember to be responsible to your animals - think about what is best for them, first. And then simply understand your pets are ambassadors for the evolving idea of animals in public places.  

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