Tuesday, September 18, 2012

City Dog: On Running Errands without "Dog Parking"

I used to have a completely different perception of city dogs before I adopting my own. I thought every dog could frolic comfortably at the dog park.  That if you took your dogs out for a walk, they would just walk. And that your pooch would be perfectly fine if you tethered them while you ran errands.
Posing for a photo, the pooches don't realize they're not being held by a real human 
A lot of the stores here even promote 'dog parking' where they provide a tether and a bowl of water, and it does seem like a great way to couple a dog walk with errands.
When I became a dogowner in the city, I became more aware of reasons where I realized this wasn't a good choice for us: 

Discomfort and Inability to Control Meetings:
Even the most well-behaved pooch can become uncomfortable, and even territorial, when left unattended. Even if you just step inside and you're watching from the window, it is also difficult to control how passing people, children, and other dogs will interact with your dog when left unattended. A child could sneak up on your pooch, or an unfriendly dog could approach, and the unfortunate outcome would be your responsibility since they were left unattended.

Dog Thefts/ Escape:
There is actually a big problem in the city with dog thefts. People take unattended dogs from backyards, and it's even easier to take them when left unattended on the sidewalk. With all the people who tell us we have beautiful dogs, and in the next breath ask us to breed our dogs, we never take the chance leaving our pooches unattended. 

Courtesy to Others:
We do realize a lot of people who are afraid, or just don't like dogs; we think it's only fair to respect everyone's space. We've had several encounters where dogs had free-reign of the whole sidewalk making it difficult for us to pass. Even more frustrating is encountering dogs who are frustrated or territorial of their space, and trying to walk by with our own dogs (especially when dodging into a busy city street isn't an option!).

At the same time, we have figured out a couple of ways where we can still combine errands and dog walks:

Call Ahead
When I call for carry out, I also mention I'll be walking my dog and ask if I can call when I arrive and they can bring the order outside so I don't need to leave my dog unattended. I've found people are always helpful and accommodating. I also make sure to give a bit of an extra tip.

Look for Accommodations
Most stores that don't serve open food will allow well-behaved pooches. Our dogs have been invited into both Noble Grape and Lush wine stores. Mr. B frequently shops at Home Depot. We have also seen many walk-up windows, food carts and food trucks making it easy to grab a bite when with your pup.

Make it a Family Tradition
We found 'family walks' a good way to spend quality time together. Mr. B brings his backpack and one of us will always wait with the pooches while the other goes inside. It makes running basic errands that much more fun. 

If it does come to a point where none of these ideas is an option, we do make sure to leave the pups at home, or delay our errands until another time when we don't have our dogs.

What are some other ways you incorporate running errands and walking your pooch?



Minabey said...

Without a doubt, with your pooches' friendliness and adorable-ness (is that a word), they'd be snatched up immediately if you left them outside. I wish there were more pet owners like you.

Taylor G said...

Shannon and I typically run our errands together. However there are times when I will run quick errands alone and tie Mugsy up outside. These solo trips are usually just to Starbucks or to the local liquor store. When I tie Mugsy up I will always shorten his leash. We have a carabiner that we use to clip the poop bag dispenser onto the leash and it also is used to clip onto Mugsy's collar to create a 3 ft leash. This limits his movement and keeps him from taking up the whole block. I also will not let him out of my site even when in the stores. Both locations I typically tie him up have big windows so I can see out as I make my purchase. If there is alread a cluster of dogs tied up I will just wait till they leve before going in or go somewhere else I feel he is safe. It's ashame we have to worry about our dogs getting stolen but unfortunately it is a reality.

Kate said...

We're pretty sporadic with the errands we run with the dogs. We have a tough time taking Mel and Nemo out (not because they wouldn't like it, but because they get tired so quickly now), but we take Heidi with us whenever we can. It's always a lot of fun, but, like you, we always make sure we only go places where we don't have to leave her unattended.

Sarah said...

I'll admit it. I've left Hurley tethered outside a coffee shop. It's not something I do on a regular basis - I've done it maybe 3 times with him and all when he was a younger pup (9-12 months) in order to give him the experience of being tethered and left alone for a minute. My intention was not that we were going to do this regularly throughout his life but rather that, being a "shop" dog, the ability to chill while being tethered is important and this was one way I could generalize this experience outside of my store.

My rule was that I would only do it at an establishment where I could maintain a line of sight with him at all times and that my errand - getting coffee - would only take a few minutes. If there was a line, I waited outside. If I was ordering a latte, which takes longer to prepare, I stepped outside to stand with him while I waited for my order to be ready. If I saw people approaching him, I stepped outside in order to ensure proper behavior in both Hurley and people. The folks at the coffee shop probably laughed at how many times I popped outside in a 2 minute errand.

I also have not and will never tether my other two dogs because they wouldn't do well with passing people & dogs.

Life_With_Alfred said...

I used to take Bruce everywhere with me when he was a puppy and it is surprising how many businesses are actually pet-friendly (I've brought him into Chase Bank many times!). Now that we have Alfred, I typically leave the dogs at home when running errands, but will occasionally do the family walk where one of us runs in and the other stands guard with the pooches. I also like to bring them on car rides in the morning when dropping M off at the train for work; they get to enjoy a short ride with their noses out the window and we all get to start our day together. :)

Pitlandia Pooch said...

B and I usually run errands together so that one of us can always be with Athena. We are lucky to have so many food cart options in Portland and now that we have a dog, we visit them A LOT!

If one of us runs errands alone with Athena, we don't go places where we can't take her inside with us. We will usually go to stores where Athena is allowed inside (like pet stores) and we will frequent drive thru's (like Starbucks) seeing as Athena loves riding in the car!

Harper said...

Thank you for posting this, as it's an issue here in Baltimore. Unfortunately recently a dog was taken to one of the local farmer's markets and tethered, got loose, and hurt a woman there. Personally, I believe dogs should never be tethered, even if only briefly or even if he/she is "friendly". You never know what can happen. :(

My Two Pitties said...

I love taking Norman on errands. He is super easy and plops down on his own any time I stop to look at things. We recently took him to an outdoor mall and went in almost every store. He made a bunch of new friends apart from a taxidermy alpaca whom he thought was terrifying. But he did give a kiss to a giant stuffed bear.

Kaya, on the other hand, I try to never take on errands. She pulls, whines, get over-excited, and impatient. The one time I tied her outside a store for a few minutes, she chewed her way through the leash and joined us(happily) inside.

How Sam Sees It said...

I've always worried about theft! We have a market within a mile from our house, but we always go together. That way one of us can hold the dogs and the other one can do shopping.


goosie mama said...

Picking up G from daycare last night, we saw a missing sign for a Jack Russell that had been stolen from a very well-to-do area of the UWS here in NYC. It was heartbreaking to read the poster, but frustrating that people don't think this type of thing can happen.

At the same time, while I never leave G "parked" anywhere for all of the reasons you listed, I don't know if I would have thought of the potential of these items if I didn't have a pittie through whom I've learned that not-always-great nature of humans toward dogs.

Your approach is definitely the best - educate! Educate! Educate!!

jet said...

I never thought anyone would steal my dogs, but my partner thinks that they are very stealable and has forbidden me from leaving them unattended.

Jacquelin Cangro said...

I'm so glad that you wrote a post about this. Here in Brooklyn, I see so many people leaving their dogs tied up outside while they run in to get something. It only takes a moment for someone to steal a dog. Sadly it's not uncommon here for someone to steal a dog and wait until signs are posted around the neighborhood. Then they call to say they "found" the dog to get the reward.

Also I recently saw a small child approach a dog who was tied to a tree outside the supermarket. The dog was exhibiting signs of stress with his tail between his legs. Luckily everything was fine, but that could have ended badly. If you wouldn't leave your baby outside unattended, don't leave your dog. Too risky!

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