Last week, I stopped by a local street festival. Street fairs, concerts in the park, parades and festivals… they are great places for people watching. But last week I found myself dog-watching. I was actually surprised at the number of people who brought along their pooches. I was also a bit troubled, because the first dog I saw – a small dachshund mix – seemed absolutely terrified. He was literally cowering between his owner’s legs.
So, I want to share some things to consider before you decide to take your dog to this weekend’s festival – whatever or wherever that might be. But I suppose I should start with this disclaimer, I do not take my dog to big public events. My dog is reactive with other dogs so it just would not work. But I am trying to keep an open mind. So let’s say you think it would be fun to take Fido to the art fair this Saturday.
First, I would suggest asking yourself a few questions:
- Will my dog be comfortable at the event… or would she be happier sleeping alone at home?
- Can I be sure my dog won’t react aggressively if an overly aggressive person approaches him? (You might be surprised at how strangers will rush up to your dog. I saw lot of this last week.)
- Can I make sure my dog won’t get into something I don’t want her to get into? (Dropped food, trash, etc.)
- Will my dog scare little kids… even though I know my dog is harmless? (I saw a little boy last week chasing after a balloon stop dead in his tracks at the sight of two English bulldogs – that seemed like the most docile dogs in the world.)
- Will it get too hot for my dog if I can’t find a spot in the shade?
If you do decide to take your best friend along to an outdoor public event, then here are a few suggestions:
- Take along a bowl and bottled water – you might not be able to find water at the event.
- Consider taking an umbrella for shade – just in case there isn’t any.
- Carry your small dog through the crowds.
- Watch for signs of stress – look for calming signals in your dog – and be prepared to leave early if your dog is stressed.
- Be an advocate for your dog – don’t let unruly kids (or adults) make inappropriate moves toward your dog.
If you take your dog to public events, what else do you take into consideration before you head out? What other tips do you have for fellow dog owners?