What wouldn’t most dogs like about going to a lively event with food spilled everywhere, warm sunshine, and lots of walkies? Except for strangers standing on her tail, lit cigarettes dangling at eye level, and hot pavement.
Summer festivals and events are loads of fun with your dog.
Or at least they can be.
Here’s how to make that summer festival as fun for your dog as it is for you.
Before You Go
Nothing you do at the festival is as important as what you do getting ready for it. For example, ask yourself
Does Your Dog Actually Like Crowded Events?
It’s amazing how many people forget to ask this important question. They want their dog with them so the dog goes along.
I have a standard list of questions when deciding when my dog should go with me and when she should stay home.
Honey loves getting lovies from strangers. So I didn’t wonder long if I should take Honey along to the Ithaca Festival last weekend.
After suffering during our week’s vacation with those polite and reserved Canadians who murmured, “What a pretty dog” without rushing up to greet her, Honey was ready for some rude Americans who would make her feel loved.
Does My Dog Have Good Skills?
If your dog can’t walk by your side or leave a tempting morsel of food behind when you say, “leave it,” you might want to work on your skills first.
Don’t feel bad if your dog isn’t up to it. Just look for different things to do together while you’re working on those skills.
What Is The Best Time To Go?
Ithacans sleep late. By heading down to the festival as soon as it opened, we guaranteed ourselves at least an hour to enjoy ourselves before the big crowds arrived.
Figure out what times are likely to be slower and go then.
What Supplies Does My Dog Need?
I was astounded to see other dog people at the Ithaca Festival not carrying clunky backpacks like mine. Where did they keep the dog’s water? The treats? The poop bags?
Heck, if we had been going to a concert or other long event, I might even have brought her travel bed.
At the Event
Once we get to that festival, outdoor concert, or dog-friendly event, the dog comes first. Here’s what that means for Honey.
Touch the Ground
As someone who walks barefoot whenever possible, I know how hot asphalt pavement can get during the summer. I never take Honey anywhere in the summer without touching the ground to make sure it hasn’t gotten too hot to be comfortable.
And even if it’s not terrible, I still seek out grassy areas to walk.
Walks are fun but crowds mean that Honey can’t sniff everything she wants on her own time.
Every so often, we take her off to the side where we toss her a stick or give her a little belly rub. It makes it easier for her to tolerate the occasional forced marches as we try to navigate bottlenecks of people.
Explore the Outskirts
You don’t have to be right in the middle of the biggest crowds to soak up the atmosphere of an outdoor event with your dog. The concert will sound just as good if you sit off to the side. The fair food is just as delicious if you take it over to the green park to eat it. And who knows? Maybe you’ll discover a fun bit of magic in the corners off the main event.
Focus on the Dog
As we walked through the food area, I noticed a couple involved in a deep conversation with someone else. As we walked by, they didn’t notice their chihuahua walking to the end of his six-foot leash to greet Honey.
Honey is good with other dogs so it wasn’t a problem. And luckily, it wasn’t so crowded that someone tripped over the outstretched leash or the small dog.
But I remember the look of shock on the chihuahua person’s face as she realized how far her dog had gotten from her while she was distracted.
Be Good Ambassadors
My town is not pet-friendly. The outdoor pedestrian mall, at least one downtown park, and the lakefront are off-limits to dogs!
Honey and I are always on our best behavior at big events. We don’t want to do anything that would make anyone want to restrict dogs any more than they already are.
I love hearing someone say, “She’s so well-behaved.” And sometimes, they’re talking about Honey, and not just me.
Summer Events Are Meant For Dogs
For those of us in the north, summer has been a long time coming. Honey and I are going to do our best to enjoy the short, sweet season.
Here we come wine festival, outdoor concerts, movies in the park, dragon boat races….
What’s Wagging Next
I’m working on a review of a fabulous product that makes it easier for us take Honey on more adventures. And lucky you, I’ll be hosting a giveaway so you can win one of your very own.
Can you guess what it is?
Your Turn: Does your dog like going to summer festivals and events with you? How do you make sure it stays fun for your dog?