July 12th, 2021
3 min read

Public Indoor Access for GDB Puppies

A black Lab puppy in training sitting down with his green jacket on. He is inside a Japanese-styled room inside a mall.

An integral aspect of puppy socialization is experiencing a variety of public spaces such as businesses, malls, schools, supermarkets and restaurants. Frequent visits indoors allow a puppy to familiarize itself with novel distractions as it becomes a confident navigator.

My experience in accessing public areas when raising Titan (now a career change dog) was extremely positive. Generally, puppies in training do not necessarily enjoy the same privileges as GDB graduates. They can only gain access to public or private locations if given permission by the proprietor. I was pleased to discover that most people and places welcomed Titan and me. The majority of business owners and managers that I’ve encountered were very supportive of providing an opportunity for Titan to learn. We were also able to enter shopping malls and ride buses without being denied. Many college and high school students who participate in the GDB program are also permitted to bring their puppies in training to school. To learn more about bringing a GDB puppy to school, read our previous article about puppy raiser Abigail’s experience taking Romo to her high school.

If permitted, GDB clubs can also regularly schedule outings at malls, grocery stores, public transportation facilities, and other establishments to provide the pups with more exposure to daily activities and situations. Our club often goes on outings inside several different malls, gardens, cafes, ride buses and ferries, and even go to farms. These outings are perfect opportunities for club leaders to evaluate the performance and progress of the puppies, including their ability to focus around distractions and people.

However, there can be instances where access to a particular location is denied. This may be due to a proprietor’s previous negative experiences with pet dogs at the facility, or from the perception that dogs are unclean, or the recent misuse of service dog terminology and growing fake ESA certifications for pets. These misunderstandings can often be resolved if raisers briefly educate them about GDB as an organization, and discuss their specific role. In addition, public access rights for puppies in training are protected by law in some states, and GDB has comprehensive liability insurance if ever needed. If that is unsuccessful, puppy raisers need to find other alternative training locations for puppy socialization. I recommend carrying the GDB puppy cards, similar to business cards, to hand out as conversation starters! They’re adorable!

When out and about, puppies should wear their green puppy-in-training jackets, be well behaved, exhibit their skills, and be able to settle quickly. Puppy raisers also represent GDB, so being respectful and professional is key. Having a clean-up kit to take care of any relieving accidents, being available to answer questions, and understanding the environment will help reinforce the positive image of puppies in training!

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