Owning a dog can often mean being in a small room with them while other people and animals are present. Veterinary waiting rooms, doggie daycare lobbies, public transit, elevators, the list could go on of the various spaces you and your dog will likely have to wait while other people and animals are present. This presents a rather unique environment for our four-legged friends which can cause them to react in ways they may not usually act.
Spaces where many people and animals have been, and currently are, can provide a lot of stimulus all at once for a dog. There are tons of unfamiliar smells, sounds, sights, and situations for them to process. Socialization can, in these cases, be very helpful to get them accustomed to these environments but not all dogs have that benefit or opportunity and some will never quite get used to it. The fact that owners are present and dogs are on leash can also complicate the situation for some pets.
The unknown in these spaces can cause some dogs to become fearful or anxious. Some might guard their owners or their space. The following are some tips to make the "waiting room" experience easier and more pleasant for all involved.
• Keep Your Dog On Leash Even if your dog is comfortable with the situation, not all dogs - or people for that matter - are. Keeping your dog on leash helps set everyone else at ease and can prevent unwanted greetings.
• Give Others Their Space To expand on the last point, make sure you're keeping your pup close to you and giving ample space between yourself and the next dog owner to keep everyone comfortable. This is especially true if it's clear another owner has put space between themselves and everyone else. Their dog likely needs that space to feel okay about the situation. If your pup is the one who is uncomfortable, there is nothing wrong with waiting in a back corner or even outside of the room if that's what will keep your dog content. Most dog spaces understand completely and will be happy to come to you when it's your turn.
• Avoid Greetings We all love it when our dogs have friends but waiting spaces aren't the best places for friendships to form. Due to the factors mentioned above, many dogs go on high-alert and can give confusing signals to one another. Dogs who would get along in any other situation might not in this space. Setting your pet up for success in new greetings means making sure the environment is appropriate for them to engage in.
• Exude Peace Dogs take their cues from us. High energy and anxiety in us tells our pets that they should either be amped up or anxious as well. Being calm and confident with your pet helps to reassure them that everything is all right. Keep a loose leash if you're able and speak in calm, even tones. Avoid speaking to your pet unless you need to give a command as they might read your words as affirmation (Yes, I should be scared) or become too excited.
• Avoid Common Walkways This sounds like common sense, but sometimes we forget to watch where we're standing. Staying clear of entries and narrow paths to said entries until it's your turn to use them helps to reduce the stimulus our pets are receiving. It also allows space for those who may currently be using those walkways.
We hope that you found these five tips useful! May we never have to wait too long and, when we do, may it be peaceful and pleasant.