Dog with owners at cafe
I have this French Bulldog named Vincent. He rides to and from work with me, hangs out at the hospital all day and even comes on vacation with me from time to time.

Vincent loves his people-rich life. But here’s the thing: He no longer goes absolutely everywhere with me. I’ve put a kibosh on taking him to certain places, at certain times and under certain conditions.

That’s because, over time, I’ve learned that your life has to be 100 percent dog friendly if your dog is going to tag along 100 percent of the time. And precious few of our lives are that accommodating.

America Isn’t Always Dog Friendly

I learned most of this the hard way, but perhaps you can benefit from my experience. Here are the areas of modern life that, in my opinion, have proved the most challenging:

Cars: Automobiles can be dangerous for humans and often more so for pets. Seat belts are indispensable, but in no way foolproof. Airbags can be deadly to even the most well-restrained pet. And although carriers may be strapped into place, they’re no match for an 18-wheel semi truck.

We all believe car accidents will never really hurt us or our pets. Until they do. I’ve seen enough examples among my own clientele to know that when they do happen, pets are often the worst hurt.

Still, the threat of a car accident doesn’t keep me from taking my pets to fun spots like the park or the beach. But, it does make me think twice about taking them with me on unnecessary trips to the grocery store.

Restaurants: I love taking my dogs to restaurants. But, at this point, I can only take one of my four safely. One is a retired bite work dog, one gets stressed out easily in public and Vincent gets a little ornery about kids now that he’s older.

Sure, I could take my well-socialized Belgian Malinois, Violet, to every restaurant (if only they’d let me). But, even dog-friendly restaurants can’t always be accommodating to all dogs (especially the bigger ones).

In short, there’s no point in taking your dog to a restaurant if he doesn’t have the temperament for it, won’t enjoy it or if it will cause a lot of disruption. But smaller, well-behaved and socialized dogs may be just fine.

Travel: Even if you stay at the most dog-friendly hotels on Earth, they’re not always designed to accommodate dogs outside of your room. Pool areas often lack a fence to keep pets safe, and gym facilities tend to bar guests of the non-human kind.

It can be a challenge to find a taxi that accepts dogs, and if a mishap should occur, it’s not always easy to locate a veterinarian you trust in a strange city. That’s why it pays to research veterinary practices and emergency clinics located near your destination before you go.

Humans: As hard as it is to believe, there are some people who aren’t as fond of dogs as are you and I. Maybe they’re afraid of them or suffer from allergies, but whatever the reason, we all have to be respectful of that. Most of these people will be more accepting of your dog if you show them the consideration of asking if your dog can accompany you — rather than assuming — before you venture near them. 

Mishaps: After hearing about an acquaintance who accidentally left his dog in the car in the heat, I thought, “That could have been me.” He didn’t take her to work every day, so when she fell deeply asleep on the back seat during his 45-minute commute, he didn’t automatically miss her at work. Thankfully, this dog survived.

Even with the best intentions, we can’t always prevent accidents from happening. Dogs can drown in a strange pool, fall from a balcony or accidentally ingest poison. While pet friendly in theory, the world is not designed for them and (yes, it’s true) they’re always safer at home.

But, does that mean they should always stay at home? Absolutely not! In fact, if more people took their pets more places, the world would invariably be more pet friendly. We’d have better car seats, seat belts, water safety tools, etc. What’s more, our dogs would almost certainly be better socialized, if not better trained. All of which could only be a good thing.

Nevertheless, whenever my clients ask about taking their pets with them everywhere, I have to be honest: Our world has a long way to go before it’ll be pet friendly enough to make constant human-animal companionship possible. 

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