How to help your dog cope in crowds

Your human bestie has no worries going to the local cafe or farmers market or other crowded place but what happens when you want to take your canine best friend?

Have you ever gone out with your dog and then wanted to change plans and go somewhere else like a market or a busy street to meet your friends?  But you know your dog can’t cope with that because there are too many people around. The sights, smells, other dogs, new people…  you can’t go unless you take him home first and go out again, or worse, you have to cancel completely?

What if there are ways that you could help your dog adjust to these situations? Would it make your life and his life so much easier? To be able to go wherever you want, and you know your dog is happily going along for the ride?

We’ve put together a couple of tips to help your dogs in these situations  

Step 1: Choose a harness that fits him well and allows you to keep control. Especially if your dog is a jumper. Make sure he is used to being in the harness and he’s happy walking with it. If you’re worried about choosing the right size and adjusting it for your dog, the staff at your local pet shops will often gladly help to find you the right fit and type for your dog

PS: don’t forget to take your dog to the store for this visit. 😉

Step 2: Socialise. Make sure your dog has been socialised around other people, small children and other dogs, big and small. This helps them cope when they come face to face with other dogs and small children they can get a bit grabby and you don’t want any negative reactions.

Step 3: Find her triggers. Work with your dog beforehand to find out what they don’t like and makes them react. Is it people touching them near the tail? Staring at them for too long or literally rubbing them the wrong way? Once you find out what this is you can help him become desensitised to it

Step 4: Tire him out. You know what they say ‘a tired dog is a good dog’ – it may seem counterintuitive, but if you can take him out for half hour or hour run around/fetch/walk before you go out to a crowd it will help keep him calm and it will release some of that pent up, excited energy!

Step 5: Project calm confidence in yourself and keep him close. If your dog knows that you’re confident and calm, he’ll know he is safe, happy and feeling secure.. Make sure your dog has mastered the focus command.

Step 6: Carry high-value treats. Make sure you’ve got that roast chicken or his FAVOURITE sometimes treat with you.. not his everyday snacks because he will not pay attention when you really need him to focus on you. Sometimes just opening the bag with the treat is enough to swivel his head to you in record time!

Step 7: Focus on you when asked. Use your ‘Focus’ or ‘Watch Me’ command. When you’re going out and there’s too much stimulus for your dog and he’s getting anxious, you use your focus command to make him stop and pay attention to you and forget about everything else.

Step 8: Start with smaller crowds in events and work up. This will help him get used to what’s happening, then being around more people, around different dogs and the extra stimuli. Once he’s happy with going to cafes and quiet times at events (try the last hour at your local park event) you know you can start to work up to a bigger crowd.

When you and your pup have mastered all of this you can enjoy stress free impromptu outing! We recommend going to more places with lots of people semi regularly so he doesn’t lose that well earned confidence and excellent behaviour!


Tell us what you think about these tips below in the comments. Do you have a dog that you take out? Does he misbehave in crowds? Do you avoid going places because of it?


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