This past weekend I finally kept a promise to myself and took one of my dogs camping. Elwood, my 2 y/o lab was the lucky winner. He camped, slept in a tent, met other people, other dogs and practiced retrieving in the lake. He even got to eat Steak for dinner.
Sitting by the campfire at night, five old friends traded stories, jokes, and advice while Elwood seemed content to just sit, listen, and roll over for belly rubs. It was a pleasure having Elwood on the camping trip. We all enjoyed his presence. Well, except for the Raccoons. They couldn't raid our site with him there.
In Europe dogs are welcome in many public places. Food stores, restaurants, and caf's are some of the places you'll find a well behaved dog at its owners feet. Why are there so many well behaved dogs in Europe? Simply, because training over seas is thought of as both a fun hobby (like bowling) and just simply good manners. In the US, we're stuck looking forward to a camping trip, going to the dog run, or the occasional trip to Petco. Or are we?
While training a clients Rottie (Buddy) a few weeks ago in front of a CVS, I got many shocked looks from patrons going in and out. Buddy was very well behaved, not the least bit aggressive. The purpose of training him there was to get him accustomed to all obedience training with large groups of people around. Kids on skateboards, bicycles, people pushing shopping carts, and he did a very nicely. This 30 minutes of training did more to "proof" him then numerous regular classes ever could. Some people, who were shocked to see him on the way in to CVS, remarked what a well behaved dog he was on their way out. Buddies owner seemed very proud.
I think most urban and suburban Americans just are not accustomed to seeing people and their dogs in most public places. Train your dog. Keep it up. Go for coffee someplace with outdoor tables and bring him along. Spend time together. You'll appreciate it. Your dog will love you for it. Explore new places and meet new people. If you have a well mannered dog then you'll be surprised how many people welcome you and your pup.