Should You Bring Your Dog to School Pickup?

Practice for the Car Line

In car lines, parents stay in the car while picking their children up from school. It seems easy enough to take your pooch since he’ll be staying in the car with you, but we ask Dr. Sung about how an owner can be sure the dog won't be territorial if someone walks up to the car, and won't attempt to lunge or jump out when the door is opened. She recommends practicing first.

“Most people who drive around with their dogs can get a good idea of how their dogs behave when they stop at a light and people are walking past the car,” she says. “If they live in more suburban areas, they can always park the car at the mall or area with high foot traffic and monitor their dogs' behavior as people walk past the car.”

She says you can also practice at home in the driveway and see what the dog does when you open the car door. You can teach him to stay as the door is being opened.

Remember dogs traveling in vehicles should always be tethered with a seat belt or harness, or ride inside their carrier or kennel for safety.

“If the dog cannot stay in the car at home in the garage, out on the driveway or at a local quiet parking lot, then they are not going to be successful at a busy location with people and children walking or running around,” Dr. Sung says.

Signs the Dog Is Uncomfortable

There are some red flags you should watch for in your dog that would show he’s growing uncomfortable with the situation.These include:

  • Anxious body language
  • Panting
  • Lip licking
  • Ears pulled to the side or back
  • Tail down or between the legs
  • Darting eyes
  • Lowered head
  • Any vocalizations, crouching, cowering or tense facial expressions

“If the dog is barking and lunging, then definitely it should not be in that situation,” Dr. Sung says.

What About the Bus Stop?

If you’re not going to the school to pick up or drop off your children but are instead going to the bus stop, can you take your dog along?

Dr. Sung says to again consider whether he is anxious or reactive toward people, children or buses.

“If the dog is great around people and children but fearful of loud noises and buses, then that would not be the ideal situation to bring that dog there until they have worked on addressing the dog's fears,” she says.

So if you feel sure that Max is OK with the car or bus, the crowds and the kids, he’ll be happy to go along with you and get to see your student. And he's sure to be a welcome sight for your student, too!

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