Charlotte (and many other cities around the country) are increasingly becoming more and more dog friendly. This means having a well behaved pup is an absolute MUST so that establishments continue to allow us to bring out dogs out. As a Charlotte dog trainer I want to share with you all why purchasing and using an “In Training” vest is very beneficial for your dog.
I like using the training vest because when I put it on, it’s usually because I want Alces (my German Shepherd) to know he’s in work mode. What does that mean you might ask? This means that I want Alces in structure, and he should only be looking to me for guidance. It’s easy for a dog to get distracted in a high activity environment, and the added attention directed at the dog from the public does not help the dog focus. These vests not only put the dog in a frame of mind for work, but also notify the public that the dog has a job that needs to be done, and he needs his focus to be towards his handler. Yes, I know that most dogs aren’t working dogs per say, but that doesn’t mean that your dog shouldn’t be working for you. Being a Charlotte dog trainer I see it day in and day out that the majority of dogs lack obedience when in high value situations because they are gaining attention from others quite frequently.
When your dog is wearing their vest I would recommend you treat them like they are at work. This means I wouldn’t encourage them to meet/greet other dogs, encourage bathroom breaks, or run around/play in their vest. Being consistent with wearing the vest is very important as well. We want your dog to learn that when their vest is on it’s time to work, just like when we put on a uniform for work, they have one as well. When the uniform comes off, they can then be a dog and do all of the dog things they want (play breaks with other dogs, go the the bathroom, meet strangers, get pet, etc.). Eventually, I may train Alces to do certain tasks for me like a service dog would, but for now he sets a great example for future or current KeenDogs.
Ever since Alces was a puppy I started him out wearing an “In Training” vest. I originally liked the idea of him looking like a Pawsome police dog, but then it started actually serving a pretty useful purpose. I noticed people started to ask “what’s he in training for?”, “Is he a police dog?”, “Is he a service dog?” I found that it was a great icebreaker to lead into conversation about being a Charlotte dog trainer. I started learning other important things about what this vest can add to our KeenDog training programs, so I began encouraging others to buy one and have their dog wear it when they go out and about with their pooch. I’ve seen a lot of clients happy with their decision on purchasing their dog an “In Training” vest.
One of my biggest pet peeves when going out with Alces, or the other dogs I am working with is when I’m approached by strangers off guard and they try to pet my dog, or let their dog approach my dog without asking first. I’ve found that when wearing an “In Training” vest, it deters most people from approaching us without asking. There are many patches you can put on your vest. Personally, mine says “DO NOT PET” in bright orange letters. I usually recommend clients to have their patch say “ASK TO PET”; while on the other side have the patch say “In Training.” This gives the owner a choice when a KeenDog is approached by another individual, whether to have their dog interact with the person/dog or not. A lot of our clients want to achieve being a therapy dog as well, so a “Therapy Dog In Training” patch is also a popular choice and eventually when their dog wears its vest they will know its time to work. We are currently in the works of making KeenDog patches, so stay tuned for those!
Overall, the vest is a wonderful dog training tool. It starts conversations, deters people from petting your dog without asking, and builds structure in your dog when they are out about with you! I look forward to seeing more dogs in their work uniforms!
– Ashley Rodriquez, KeenDog Charlotte Dog Trainer