Visiting Coffee Shops with Your Puppy

November 23, 2022

Dog in a person's lap at a coffee shop

What’s better than snuggling up in your favorite jacket with a steaming cup of tea or coffee? Doing it with your puppy on your lap! It’s certainly not recommended to bring your puppy everywhere, every day with you, but socializing is extremely important for any young dog. In our blog “Ways to Safely Socialize Your Puppy,” we emphasize how critical it is to introduce your puppy to 20-50 new people, 20-50 new dogs, and 1-3 new environments during the Sensitive Period (weeks 8-12). Your favorite local coffee shop more than qualifies for one of these places!

Here’s a list of our favorites around Kansas City:

While out and about exploring these local, dog-friendly coffee shops with your pup, training is a must. It’s important to bring your puppy’s meal and favorite treats along every time. Whether you are going to a coffee shop, dog-friendly restaurant, patio, or store, you need to monitor your puppy’s manners and obedience.

Here’s a compiled list of tips to help you monitor your puppy’s manners and obedience while out and about! 

Safety Tips

First things first – your puppy’s health and safety are our top priority. Before venturing out in public with your puppy, check with your veterinarian to make sure it is safe to do so. It is important that your puppy is up-to-date on their vaccinations. If they are not fully boosted, your doctor might recommend that you don’t visit public places yet or limit the kind of dogs you allow your puppy to greet. Don’t worry! Socializing doesn’t always mean extended nose-to-bum introductions. You can feed your puppy a treat for looking at a dog at another table or walking past the cafe and still create a positive association. To better manage your puppy’s introductions, keep them on your lap to avoid any interactions you might not be ready for. 

By keeping your puppy nearby or on your lap, you can also limit what they get into. Do not allow them to linger in public grassy areas and do not let them put anything in their mouth. It’s a good idea to bring along hand sanitizer for you and paw wipes for your puppy. Lastly, it will be important throughout the visit to monitor your puppy. Verify how much and if they eat the food and treats you offer them and pay attention to their body language. It’s a good sign if your puppy reliably eats treats, especially their food. If they will not eat, it’s better to take them home and try again another time when they will be more hungry. As far as their body language, you are looking for relaxed ears, panting, loose body, and tail relaxed. If your puppy is stiff, has their head lowered or ears back, back arched or hair standing on end, or tail tucked, your puppy is showing signs of fear and anxiety. You can praise them and/or feed them to help them relax, but again, if they will not eat it it’s better to take them home and try again another day. 

Have your puppy sit for attention

Dog socializing at a coffee shop

We love to see a puppy confident enough in public to excitedly run up to strangers and greet them by jumping all over them and nibbling on their fingers in search of tasty treats. However, this can be seen as rude or even scary to certain people. In order to maintain their confidence and excitement, but emphasize a more polite response, we teach an alternative behavior to our puppies-in-training. This behavior is an automatic sit, or auto-sit, as detailed in our blog. In summary, whenever someone wants to say hi to your puppy, explain to them first that they can feed them a treat or pet them but your puppy needs to have their bottom on the ground first. You can use food or a hand signal to encourage them to sit. The “automatic” sit entails that we do not ask them to “sit.” It’s different from a command; this is a polite way for them to ask for attention. Give clear instructions that they can gently pet your puppy as much as they want as long as your puppy remains sitting. If the puppy stands, politely ask them to stop petting and pull their hands away until the puppy sits back down. This is a great behavior for you to practice with your puppy while sitting on the patio at your local coffee house. It’s polite for your puppy to sit whenever a stranger or your waiter/waitress stops at your table or walks by, whether they intend to pet them or not. 

Practice sit and downs

The commands “sit” and “down” are some of the first things we teach our puppies upon bringing them home. Once they master this in your home, you can generalize that obedience outside and eventually to public places. Practicing sit and/or down in various environments brings your puppy’s obedience to a higher level while simultaneously promoting calm behavior. With your guidance, they repeatedly come into contact with distractions like exciting new people, dogs, smells, etc., and are taught that regardless of those things they still need to follow directions. When they do, they are rewarded for it! That’s why we emphasize always bringing along food and treats. By making it valuable to listen and pay attention to you, your puppy will more reliably perform their commands in public and even begin to do them naturally. While waiting for your drink order, reinforce your puppy every time they sit or lay down with a treat. Training your puppy to meet these standards will also decrease the likelihood that they bark at other people or dogs or jump on you during outings. Say hello to a relaxing brunch for both you and your pup! 

Bring a toy for longer outings

Sitting down for a meal is different than popping into a cafe for a quick cup to-go. It’s highly recommended that for your first few sit-down sessions you bring a couple of toys to help preoccupy your pup. Yes, you want to train them, but you also want to be able to give yourself a short break when you need one! Options like Kongs, Nylabones, cow or femur bones, or antlers are suitable for giving your puppy something to do. These often include the ability to stuff them with food, treats, peanut butter, cheese, etc., and even freeze them overnight. After you are seated, praise your puppy and feed them when arriving at the table, getting settled, sitting or laying down under the table, and every few seconds and then minutes throughout your stay. Before your meal arrives, it will be easier to keep your eye on your pup and reinforce their calm behavior or bring their attention back to you. After your meal arrives, you can offer them a couple of toys to keep themselves busy while you enjoy your food. Make sure your puppy is wearing a secure collar with a leash attached to you or a sturdy part of the table. When training cannot be done with our utmost attention, it’s a good idea to manage the situation so that no unwanted behaviors are reinforced in the meantime. 

Bulldog leash walking

Loose leash walking/attention on you

No training session is perfect without a strong entrance and an even stronger finish. Start your outing by rewarding your puppy for letting you put their harness on, walking out the front door calmly, being polite in the car, etc. It’s important to maintain this level of obedience when you arrive at the coffee shop. Staying in heel position and checking in with you are other ways your puppy can earn their food or treats. When sitting at your table, even if your puppy doesn’t sit or lay down right away, feed them when they make eye contact with you. Feed them for durations of silence. When your visit is over and you are standing to walk back to your car, reinforce walking beside you without pulling. Making the entire outing, from start to finish, a learning experience will set both you and your puppy up for the most success.

These small adventures can add immense value to both you and your dog’s life. Training and traveling together are great ways to continue to strengthen the bond you share with your puppy. Not only that, but introducing these manners and obedience at a young age will shape your puppy into a well-mannered, intelligent, and confident dog. Once a coffee shop visit becomes routine, there’s no dog-friendly store, hiking trail, or public park you won’t be able to conquer! 

For help getting your puppy comfortable in this big, wide world we live in, contact our team today for more information about our puppy training programs! With our customized program and hands-on training, we can help you expand your horizons and go anywhere you want with your puppy right by your side.