Home » 6 Steps to Getting Your Dog Ready for Patio Season!

6 Steps to Getting Your Dog Ready for Patio Season!

Dog Friendly Patio

This blog is co-written by guest writer Miranda Howes, owner of Dog Walk Happy.

It is FANTASTIC that there are places within the City that allow for dogs on the patio


What if you are not comfortable taking your dog TO the patio???!!

We can help….

Here is six easy steps that you can do now to get your pup ready for patio season! AND you can do them on your own time and in your own way and in your own home! We will teach you how to train your dog to stay on their “spot” and then use that spot for them at the patio!

Step 1 – Assess your relationship with your dog and how much work or how little work you still have to do for your dog to be patio ready! (we always want to do our best to set our dogs up for success)

Some may read this and realize that they will need to work on the basic skills like “stay” and some may only have to work the one new command we will be presenting. Having the basics already down for about 80% of the time is a win. We love our furry friends but they are still dogs they can get distracted from time to time. We have to be forgiving and patient as they learn.

Step 2 – Make (or find) a “SPOT”

In our home we have two spots, one for Maze and one for Nyx. They are simple faux fur sheepskin rugs. A white one for Nyx and a grey one for Maze.

Maze & Nyx in their "spot"
Maze & Nyx in their “spot”

These faux furs are their “spots”, which are usually in the living room

These are their places that they go to when we give them the command, “Go to your “Spot”. We practiced this over and over and this training is ongoing. This command comes in handy when we have a new visitor that looks inviting to jump on on or simply when the doorbell rings.

Step 3 – Training them to “Stay” in their spot.

There are many different ways people can assist with how to train a spot. How do you train your dog to “stay”? Do you use treats or bones or just positive reinforcement? Here is what we suggest.

  1. Introduce your dog to the “spot” and encourage them to go there any chance you get.
  2. Once they are there, please give lots of positive reinforcement for their good behaviour. Any time you see them there on their own make sure to praise them and use the commands “Stay” “Good boy, Spot”
  3. At anytime you can encourage them to stay in the spot with a bone or treat. This will help reinforce them to stay there for longer periods of time.
  4. Practice putting them in the spot and walking away using the “stay’ command. The more you practice this, the further away you should be able to get (side note: this is also a great opportunity to work on recall, calling them to you from the spot. This will come in handy if they do get away from you at a patio).
  5. Please don’t treat the spot as a bad place, but more as a safe space. Sometimes they will run there after doing something bad. Still praise them when there and use the commands (“Spot”, “Stay”). This will teach them that this is a safe space and one where they will get praised. When dogs do something bad, while they may feel it for a second, they don’t live in the past and move on very quickly. Anything you feel after the initial correction is really just them picking up on your frustration or anger; humans carry that around a lot longer than dogs do.

An extension of this process can be to teach them to lay down and get them to relax. For our dogs, this is their cue that they will be staying there for a short time period and to make themselves comfortable. Nyx got into the garden one evening before bed and she ran to “spot”. We had turned the lights out for the night and forgot to release her from her “spot”. The poor thing just stayed in her “spot”. My husband realized when we were in our bedroom that he never told her she could come and he had to go back downstairs and get her. Don’t’ worry, she got lots of hugs and love for being such a good girl!

Step 4 – Repeat Step 2 and 3 as many times as you want.

Practice makes perfect! Even us humans are not perfect right away. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Step 5 – Find an old blanket or mat as a portable “SPOT”

If you follow our social media you probably have already figured out that Maze is an absolute princess. She will not lay on concrete AT ALL. So, we have an old blanket we take in the car with us in case we run into a situation when Maze will have to lie down on the ground (yep! 100% princess). This blanket becomes the dogs “SPOT” when we need them to settle down somewhere.

If you are our hiking around the city or on a trail somewhere you might not be able to carry their blanket, so sometimes you can also just bring an enrichment toy/bone to keep them busy while you enjoy your patio. This is something simple you can throw in a backpack and will keep them engaged!

Step 6 – Test it out!

Please don’t take a wound up pup to a new and exciting place.

Tire your dog out first!

I will point out that my favorite saying is “a tired dog is a well behaved dog”.

We suggest you test your pup out at a patio just you and your furry friend first. This way there isn’t the distraction of another person there. Your dog will follow your demeanor and you will more likely be relaxed with just the two of you and therefore, so will the dog. Then you will not be focused on your friend, or worried what they might be thinking if your dog is acting out, and in turn the dog will feel that and may not be able to settle. We always want to set them up for success and that is always easier when we can give them all of our attention and lots of positive reinforcement. Talk to your dog like they are your friend at the patio and that calm energy will help them feel safe and ultimately give you both a successful trip to the patio.

The next time you go bring a person that you are very comfortable with. Once the dog is settled (and now doubt has received tons of cuddles and attention for being the cool well-behaved dog at the patio), set them up in their “spot” and give them their enrichment treat/bone and enjoy your lunch.

The more positive experiences you create (dogs are creatures of habit and love routine), the better your dog will be at the patio. The more positive this experience becomes for them the easier and easier it will get. Eventually you can just walk onto any patio with your dog and they will just sit and soak in the vibe with you.

Give it a try!

One Saturday we headed to Bendor & Graves Tract for a 7km hike (click here for the blog post, highly recommend it if you can go!) and then went to The Old Flamme Brewery (click here for this post) and had a fantastic afternoon with food, beer and live music!

Maze & Nyx in their "spot" in the Old Flame Brewery
Maze & Nyx in their “spot” in the Old Flame Brewery

Maze & Nyx at the Old Flamme Brewery in Newmarket, ON

As I don’t have any dog training credentials, I asked the owner of Dog Walk Happy to help with this blog…


I want to introduce my co-writer on this blog, Ms. Miranda Howes. Miranda has owned and operated a dog walking business for over 10 years called Dog Walk Happy.

Miranda and her dogs
Miranda and her dogs

Prior to the start of this business Miranda was constantly involved with dogs. She has spent endless hours volunteering for animal shelters. She also became a trained vet tech before she even went to college!

In 2009, with a small child, she had a dog named Dougal. Dougal was a springer spaniel that needed lots of exercise. Miranda would put her daughter in her backpack and they would hike for hours off-leash. This passion morphed into a love of hiking and dogs which lead to the start of Dog Walk Happy.

Now, 10 years later, this business has grown to six dog walkers and 60 acres of private land that her “pack” can run and play off-leash. Her vast knowledge of dogs and training them was the backbone of this blog.

Suzanne Diamond
Suzanne Diamond

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