I recently ordered something from REI online and had it delivered to the Lincoln Park store for me to pick up. When I was notified that it had arrived, I decided to stop by the store on one of my walks with Gatsby to retrieve my purchase. When I arrived at the store, I was very surprised and disappointed to read "Service Animals Only" in large bold letters on the doors. When I asked the cashier if they really do not let dogs in the store, she replied, "That's right. Is that bad?"
Seriously? REI sells dog coats, treats, toys, boots and other dog essentials so why can't I bring my dog into the store? Stores like Best Buy, Neiman Marcus and Office Depot gladly welcome owners to shop with their dogs, so why can't a store that specializes in outdoor activities and sells pet merchandise do the same?
I have decided to ask for help from other dog owners to convince the CEO of REI, Sally Jewell, that REI must change its policy. Please help me send a message to Sally by "signing" the electronic petition below.
I think we all know that the chicken crossed the road "to get to the other side," but I'm curious to know why so many dog owners in Chicago cross the street when they see another dog approaching? Is it because they have an aggressive dog? Are they afraid the oncoming dog is aggressive? Did they skip getting their dog vaccinated recently and are afraid of communicable diseases? Did my deodorant wear off and I'm just oblivious that people can smell me over a half block away?
I venture to guess that almost 100% of these dog owners choose to cross the road because they are afraid their dogs will display behaviors they cannot control. For these dog owners, I would like to provide some simple advice:
1) Avoiding other dogs on the sidewalk is only making the problem worse. You are never presenting your dog with opportunities for positive re-inforcement.
2) Make sure you have a collar, head collar or harness that makes you feel comfortable about being in control of your dog's behavior - there's a reason "training collars" were created.
3) Practice "Watch Me" and "Leave It" at home using high-value treats to prepare you for success outside the home. These treats should be something that will quickly get your dog's attention (and keep it) - something "smelly" like Zuke's is usually good.
4) As soon as you see an oncoming dog, put your dog into sit, stay, and get a solid "watch me" using the high-value treats. I've heard this technique refered to as "Bar Open" "Bar Closed". It's called "Bar Open" when you are feeding the high-value treats over and over again until the other dog is out of site. It's "Bar Closed" once the other dog is out of site.
5) If your dog becomes distracted by the other dog and loses focus on you during "Bar Open", use "leave it, watch me" until you regain "watch me". If you are unsuccessful in regaining your dog's attention, quickly turn and walk away from the other dog while repeating "leave it" until your dog settles.
6) Once your dog settles, regain sit, stay, watch me and re-open the "Bar".
9) If you feel as though the situation might become dangerous, place more distance than the width of a sidewalk between your dog and the other dog, but DON'T take the other dog out of site by crossing the street. Find an alley, driveway or yard to step into until the other dog passes, but continue sit, stay, watch me, and "Bar Open" while you wait for the other dog to pass.
You might be thinking, "I could have simply avoided all that effort and display if I had just crossed the road before my dog ever reacted," and you are correct. But what happens when you can't avoid coming into close contact with another dog? Isn't it better to fix the problem so you never have to worry about being put into a dangerous position?
Training takes consistency and patience, but your dog WILL start to associate that every time a new dog is around it's a VERY positive thing. Ask some friends if they will practice with you, and Gatsby and I are also more than happy to help out some fellow canine friends, so feel free to give us a call.