- Don’t be loud.
- No running, jumping or climbing.
- Use designated areas for your bodily functions.
- Be respectful of everyone’s personal space.
- Clean up your own messes.
The above list should be the code of conduct for humans as well as dogs in all public places and places of business. Let me explain:
My dogs are my friends, and I take them with me almost everywhere I go. I believe this is important for the emotional and psychological health of my dogs. Being exposed to many different situations inoculates them against stress and prepares them for life. However, this often limits me to where I am able to go. Many stores and restaurants prohibit dogs so I patronize the establishments that are dog friendly and avoid those that discriminate against dogs. Recently, my wife and I visited the Seneca Lake wine country with our dogs, and found that although many wineries welcomed our dogs, there were still some that banned them. Yes, believe it or not in this day and age there are still establishments that discriminate based on species.
Although this way of thinking is gradually changing, for as long as I can remember, dogs have gotten the “short end of the leash” when it comes to shopping and entertainment. “No Dogs Allowed” is posted on the windows and doors of many retail and business organizations. So, I ask the question, “Why??”
My best guess is that it is based on certain assumptions about dogs:
– They are dirty
– They are loud
– They jump
– They bite
– They are wild
– Etc., etc.
These places have pre-judged dogs based on their species. In other words, they’re prejudiced.
I understand that this prejudice is not without some merit. I’m sure that there have been dogs in these places of business that lived up to every one of the assumptions. Penalizing all dogs for the behavior of a few is not only unfair, it can also be bad for business. According to Michael Dillon of the marketing strategy firm Dillon Media, “At hotels, pet owners who bring their buddies stay longer. At restaurants, they’re repeat customers. Love the customer’s pet, say business owners, and you’ve got a patron for life.”
Many people like myself would love to bring their pets into more stores and restaurants, but are turned away. So what’s the solution? I think rather than the decision to allow access to these establishments be based on species, it should be based on behavior.
I’ve come up with a “Code of Conduct” for all patrons, the four legged ones and the two legged ones. Theses behaviors should determine if someone is allowed to shop in the store or not. For example, store owners are concerned that a dog may “lift his leg” on some of the merchandise. That is a valid concern. However, why is that limited to dogs? Dogs can be taught not to do that. If a person were to do that, I think they’d be quickly escorted out, yet the store owner wouldn’t ban all other people from the store because of the behavior of one rather gross individual.
Now I know there is an AKC Good Citizen test for dogs, but after seeing first hand some dogs that have passed this test, I have little confidence in this certification. Besides, this test is given in controlled situations and includes things that don’t really apply to realistic situations. It doesn’t take the dog’s point of view into account, and assumes that all people and dogs will respond the same. This is disrespectful. For example, it dictates that people should be able to go up and pet your dog whenever they want. What if your dog doesn’t want to be pet? Does that make him a “bad” dog? Personally, I am not comfortable with strangers coming up to me and touching me any time they want to without my permission. Why, then, should that be okay with my dog?
A Code of Conduct for everyone is the smarter way to go here. It allows all individuals to be just that: individuals, whether canine or human. I’d suggest that to be out in public you and your dog need to follow the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
I would like to offer kudos to the businesses that are very welcoming of dogs. My kudos and respect goes out to them for having the wisdom to see that dogs are not just pets, but friends and members of family. There are great websites that will give you lists of these places, and I encourage you to visit them and patronize them:
In addition, check your local merchants for their dog policies to see if they are dog friendly. You’d be surprised at how many are. If they are not, please share this post with them and hopefully they will join the many other retailers and businesses that care about our dogs as much as we do.
Let me know what you think of my Code of Conduct. I’d be very interested on your thoughts about this. Did I leave anything out? Should I have omitted something? Share your thoughts with me and let’s see if we can help to get more establishments to open their doors to our dogs, so we can spend more time doing things together as friends.