I moved back to Dublin in May after nearly 10 years in the UK. With me, of course, came my two greyhounds. I was really delighted to find that Dublin is a lot more dog-friendly now than it was when I left 10 years ago! There are pubs and cafes that will welcome your pooch with open arms all over the city.
This is obviously a great development for our dogs and for us. Dogs are social creatures who like to get involved with what we’re doing. They are curious animals who like to see (and smell!) new places, taste new things and have new experiences. So visiting a dog friendly café can be a really nice experience for your dog, and a great form of mental stimulation.
But, as with any activity that we’re involving our dogs in, it’s really important to think about it from their perspective too… Just because somewhere allows dogs, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all dogs will enjoy it. So I would always recommend visiting without your dog first.
With this in mind, here are some of my thoughts on some of the things you might wish to consider, some of the things you might want to bring with you, and how you can set your dog up for success in these situations.
Things to Consider
- Noise- our dogs’ hearing is considered to be about 4 times better than ours. Bars and cafés can be noisy places, so this is something to consider when you’re thinking of bringing your dog. Is there loud music playing? Do the staff shout at each other a lot? Are there quieter spots available?
- A suitable position- your dog will probably settle easier if he can be a bit away from the main thoroughfares. Lots of people passing too close to your dog could be
stressful, and toes or tails could be trod upon.
- Facilities- a lot of the dog friendly spots I’ve been to in London are ok with dogs on the furniture (very handy for spoilt greyhounds not accustomed to floors!). If this is not the case, you may want to bring along a bed or cushion for your dog.
- Water- most dog friendly spots will have a nice big bowl of water for our furry friends. If not, you may want to bring your own, especially if you’ll be calling in after a walk.
Things to Bring
If your dog is not used to settling in strange places, you may want to consider taking some of the following along:
- Somewhere comfortable to relax- bringing a cushion, bed, or mat that your dog is familiar with may help them settle;
- Something to do- for instance, fleece-backed snuffle-mats (available from
Doggytools). The idea with these is that you can hide treats in them, which the dog has to sniff around to find. Sniffing is a great activity for your dog to engage in; it’s a tiring activity, and a calming one (read more here). If you have a small or medium sized dog, these can also double-up as a spot to lie down. Making treat parcels is another way to engage your dog’s brain.
- Something to chew- chewing releases serotonin in the brain, helping your dog feel happy and relaxed. The only challenge may be finding something that is appealing but not too smelly!
- If there’ll be nothing suitable for your dog to eat, you may want to bring along some snacks. I believe that variety is the spice of life however, and I find that even if they don’t have dog treats, most spots will have something your dog will enjoy. Our local café in London sold frozen yoghurt, which was much appreciated by Fia, as well as cheese bread. Now, these are not my recommendations for a healthy, balanced diet, but a little bit of what you like… (obviously avoid anything toxic for dogs such as chocolate, raisins, and the artificial sweetener xylitol!).
Something to teach
I’m not one for tricks or training doggy robots. But I do like to teach dogs useful life skills, and one such skill is learning to relax in a variety of situations – such as a café or pub! Turid Rugaas calls these calm sessions, and there’s really nothing to it.
You’ll want to start somewhere not too distracting. Your house or garden is fine. Pop your dog on his harness and a long lead. Have a few comfortable spots around for your dog to choose to relax in. Hold on to your lead. Sit down somewhere. Now, don’t look at your dog, don’t speak to your dog (especially don’t cue or command your dog to sit or lie), don’t touch your dog. And most importantly, DON’T MOVE an inch! Then just wait for your dog to lie down and relax… This can happen quite quickly, or can take a while. It will happen though. When your dog does relax, say nothing. As Turid says, the reward is the feeling of being relaxed. Your dog won’t need any other reinforcement. Stay with your dog for a while, and end the session while the dog is still very relaxed. You can practice for short periods of time in various places, and once your dog has the hang of it, try it in the dog-friendly spot of your choosing.
Don’t worry if it takes your dog a few attempts to learn to relax easily- a lot of dogs can struggle to relax initially. But having a dog who can sit down and relax with you when you go to your local café, is really nice for both human and dog!
Anyhow, watch this space! LovinDublin put together a list of some of the dog friendly spots in Dublin. I’ll be visiting some of these places (and others) over the coming weeks and months, and will report back on my findings!