Episode 14- Caring For Your Dog at Festivals, Family Events & Fireworks

Corey McCusker  00:04
Hello dog lovers, and welcome to Muttz with Mannerz™ Canine Academy Podcast, where we’ll share dog training tips and educational information to help you raise your pup, young or old, so they can be a loving part of your family and your community for life. I’m your host, Corey McCusker, Canine Coach, and with me is Diane Purser, Educational Manager. Let me tell you a bit about our podcast. Today we’ll talk about a topic for those owners that like to take their dogs to events, like festivals or family gatherings. Diane and I will discuss some points and provide tips and resources on how to keep them safe and protected during this time.

Diane Purser  00:42
Great topic, Corey. Like you said, in the summer and even fall, outdoor events and picnics are a great way to spend time obviously with family and friends, get out in the fresh air, enjoy some good food and some games. But, what about your dog? Do they have to stay home alone all day while you’re out socializing? With a little planning your dog can enjoy this year summer season too. The tips we’re going to provide should help you enjoy the summer’s festivities with your best buddy. While outdoor events are our focused, these tips are also helpful for bringing your dog into stores and indoor events during other seasons. Today, we’ll help you and your dog enjoy community events, family or friend gatherings, and picnics. We will also touch on fireworks as they are often a part of the festivities. 

Corey McCusker  01:35
So true. And Diane, why do we want to prepare you and your dog for this? Because there’s so many things that can happen that you have to be aware of. For many dog owners public events are a must attend during the summer, even the fall, where many of you want to be outside enjoying the nice weather. When you want to share the festivities with your dog, you want to make sure that their comfort and safety are top of mind and that you’re prepared. First and foremost, is your dog okay with people and other dogs? Have you socialized them? Have you done safe meet and greets with people of all ages and sizes and dogs young and old. And with those humans or dogs, you have to think about the rambunctious ones, and even the little timid ones. If you haven’t socialized them, I suggest you do before you take them to an event. Maybe go on a local walk or join our community walks that we offer. Be aware of your dog’s reaction and how they greet others, humans and dogs, and get them familiarized with meeting others.

Diane Purser  02:45
Yes, there’s no time like now because it’s always a good thing for your dog to be comfortable. And on that, yes, you have to know how to read your dog’s and other dog’s body language. Make sure all the dogs are comfortable with one another. We did a podcast, number 7, on body language that you should listen to if you aren’t aware. We’ll include the link in the podcast notes at the bottom. If you’re not sure about reading your dog’s body language, then think about when you are on local walks or at a dog park. Are they happy and comfortable? If they’re not, it’s most likely they will be much happier staying home. One thing to also consider is your dog’s age or health. Puppies, older dogs, and dogs with health issues may need more rest, shade, and water.

Corey McCusker  03:38
So true. And you know, Diane, just recently I was at a market and I was seeing a lot of dogs there and they did look comfortable. The things that you need to be aware of is make sure that they’re used to noises and lots of activity. Like think about it . . . we had music blaring at this festival. There were people chatting, kids laughing or crying and running around, running around and cars going by. I mean there was so much going on. I took Skye for her first event and she did amazing. But again to, and even the weather, that was something we had to take into account because there was heavy winds. And I was thinking, ‘Okay, what if there was a thunderstorm? What if the rains were coming down?’ You have to prepare for all of this. So you know whether you have a raincoat for your dog or even yourself, making sure that if it does start thundering and lightning and pouring down rain, what’s your options to get your dogs to a safe place and making sure you’re prepared? You know you mentioned that we’re going to be touching on fireworks. If I think about most of the long weekends or holidays or events, and that even goes to New Year’s Eve, it brings out fireworks and that can be so startling for a dog, and even harmful for your pets. And we’re talking thing about those loud noises that they just, when they go off, they’re just so loud. And dogs have very sensitive hearing.

Diane Purser  05:06
Some dogs are terrified. Like it’s the worst thing that you could put them through.

Corey McCusker  05:12
You know what to, and if they are terrified, they’re you know, even if you have them at home – we’ve done a blog on fireworks, so check that one out – but even if they’re at home, they can hear that. So you know what, being prepared for what could occur at these events is really important. Because their safety, their health, and their enjoyment, should be the main deciding factor whether or not you take your dog to a festival. And like humans, it just might not be their thing, because every dog is different. And if you think your dog would enjoy it, we’re going to go through some steps, so you can ensure that they’re safe and comfortable at these events.

Diane Purser  05:46
So, very good. How do we prepare? Well, first of all, you may not think of this, but be sure the location of the event is dog-friendly. And respectfully for all the attendees that will be there, follow all the rules and guidelines that might be posted. Even if it’s a dog-friendly event. That doesn’t mean all the people that are at the event like dogs. They might actually be afraid of them or nervous around them. You have to be aware of that. If you’re, if you are attending a normally dog-friendly location, so one that you know usually you can take your dog to with no problem, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the event is dog-friendly. So what you should always do is check in advance and don’t show up with your dog not knowing. If you haven’t, you may find that your plans get changed, and you’re likely going to be disappointed. If it’s a family or friend event, talk to the host. If it’s a town or municipal event, check with their information desk or social media posts. There’s always a group or a person that’s in charge that can be contacted that you can talk to. The other thing, once you know that you can take your dog, is to make sure that you bring all the appropriate supplies. So, leash, food, water bowl – you’re going to need a knapsack I think to make sure that you have everything and it’s easy for you to take around – poop bags, maybe a dog bed or a towel or a cooling mat, depending on where you’re going. May be a long line if you’re thinking you might be securing them somewhere and bring them something that you can secure the line to if you need to. Bring chew toys or enrichment toys like a stuffed Kong, a snuffle mat, anything that will make them start to feel comfortable and there’s some familiarity where you are. Healthy dog treats, frozen watermelon, apples, if they like to play fetch, then bring a ball or frisbee or any other retrieving toy.

Corey McCusker  08:05
Yeah, those are all great suggestions. And when you arrive at the event, you want to acclimatize your dog to their surroundings and what’s going on first. So what I did when I brought Skye to her first I went around and I visited all the booths and I, you know, talked to the people. I wanted to see what was going on. I also thought originally I was going to walk there. But then I thought no, if something did happen, I want to be able to take her home quickly. So I actually drove and parked very near to there. So if you’re going to the event, you want to select or find an area, if it’s sunny and really hot out, that has shade. So you can maybe secure them there or sit with them to take a break from the heat in the sun. If you’re attending a family picnic, or a family event, and maybe, oh okay, I know every one of mine has food, so if those events have food, you want to keep them away from the cooking areas. And you don’t want your dog to be tempted and start begging or potentially grabbing the human food that’s out there. On the flip side, be aware of picnic scraps that could cause them harm or even upset their stomach. Stay away from the trash because that’s where everybody is going to be throwing all of their paper plates or their food stuffs away. And just think about what they can get into. And at these events, there could be grapes or could be onions, garlic, cutlery, hotdog bags, all of those things can be dangerous to a dog, even toxic. And especially if they’ve got chicken bones, chicken wings, those cooked bones that are shattered can definitely be harmful if they’re ingested in the dogs. And the dogs we all know, well mine, loves to pick up everything. You name it, she wants the food. So that’s the other thing is making sure your dog has their own food at these events so that they’re not scavengers trying to get all the human food. Now Diane touched on bringing something to secure your dog. So if you can secure your dog safely, maybe to a tree or a stake in the ground – which you will always be supervising your dog on those long lines. Making sure that they’re not getting their legs tangled – that can easily happen if we’re not supervising and they’re walking around and twisting and turning. So make sure that you have their bed or blanket. And if you do have a blanket, or an area that they’re lying down is, you know, scatter a few treats and toys on that area so that they can keep themselves entertained. Always make sure that you have fresh water for your dog, especially in the heat. Ensure that that secure leash is firm, and that there’s no hazards that it can get loose and they can take off. Also make sure that your dog is able to explore the area that you’re around. You know they love to sniff and explore. So just making sure that you’re walking them around. And stay close to your dogs. Keep them in your sight. Don’t abandon or leave them. I mean, you know, I hate to think about somebody just tying up their dog and then they see their long lost relative or their friend that they haven’t seen in ages, and they go off talking and the dog’s just left there – and who knows what can happen. Right? 

Diane Purser  11:10
Exactly, exactly. And especially when you go to a festival or something, do not secure your dog and leave them and then start walking around and doing things when there’s all kinds of different people of the public. 

Corey McCusker  11:24

Diane Purser  11:25
That’s a definite no, no. 

Corey McCusker  11:27
Yeah. And when you do have your dog on leash, and you start to introduce them to their guests, make sure that you have some treats and rewards so that your dog is walking well on leash, and they’re sitting nicely if they’re getting petted. If there are guests who are leery of the dogs, don’t force your dog on them. And be aware of that. I mean, we talked about reading the dog’s body language, read the people’s body language too. If they are saying, Hey, no thank you, then go on meet somebody else that wants to see your dog. We want it to be a good experience for everyone, guests and dogs. And when it’s time to eat, and I’m sure there’s going to be lots of food at these events, keep your dog secure and away from them so that the people can just enjoy their meal without your dog having to steal it from them. And make sure your dog has some tasty treats in their bowl or provide them, you know, with some enrichment toy, maybe a stuffed Kong or a Tricky Treat Ball, or Diane mentioned a snuffle mat. Those are all great things to entertain your dog. You know your dog best. If your dog is not very social with people or other dogs when they’re home, chances are they’re not going to be social, especially in a strange environment. Because that could be new and very stressful for them. So you may just want to choose to leave your dog at home. The other thing is making sure they get time outs. If your dog is getting really stimulated, because of all the excitement going on, take them to a calm area, maybe under a shady tree, and just have them sit for a bit or lie down. And if they have been secured, they may need to go for a walk to use up some of the energy if they’re just staying in one spot. So really take that into consideration. And one thing, be prepared to leave early. If your dog becomes way too distracting with barking, whining, or you’re seeing them, you know, a little bit anxious, panting a little bit more, it’s probably time for them to go home. So don’t let the dog spoil the event. And if there are other dogs around and you see that your dog’s not comfortable with, your dog’s safety is the top priority. So take them home, let them go rest, I’m sure that they actually would enjoy the rest because those events, especially if it’s first time in that, it’s exhausting, because there’s so much stimulation going on. 

Diane Purser 13:53

Corey McCusker  13:54
Yeah. Always be responsible. Be a responsible pet owner and pick up after your dog, always poop and scoop. So have those poop bags ready. And never leave a dog in a warm car. So if your dog’s anxious, you don’t go put them in the car, shut the door and then go off back to the festival or family event. The temperatures in a car can skyrocket in minutes and can be fatal.

Diane Purser  14:20
Those are, that’s all such good preparation, Corey. And I guess the one thing just to highlight again is how do we know when it’s time to leave? If your dog seems stressed, you touched on that. If they are hiding, like you’re talking to people and they’re not their normal interested self, but they’re sitting behind you or they’re standing and there looking in the opposite direction. These could be examples that they’ve had enough. If your dog is acting oddly, so panting more than they should be under the circumstances, repetitive licking, like their paws or their leg. All of those are good stress indicators. And if your dog’s mood or personality is different, so compared to how they normally are at home or in a situation that they’re comfortable with normally, are they more aggressive, less inquisitive, or not seeking attention from other people or maybe seeking attention from others that they don’t normally. The last thing is, and many dogs, because of the way that our lifestyles are, are on a fairly common or very ingrained schedule. They have walk time and sleep time and eat time and all those kinds of things. So if you’re out at an event, and your schedule gets changed, because of where you are, this could also throw them. Schedules are very important to dogs, especially if they’re used to it. So watch for that or think about what the timing is. And again, as you said, leave early if you need to – it’s much better that your dog leaves on a high note, rather than not liking the event.

Corey McCusker  16:12
Exactly. And you know, there are so many dogs that I see at these events, and I think we’ve provided, you know, lots of tips and that. And your dog can enjoy it if it’s something that they like to do, and they’ve been climatized to it. So, Diane, I think we’ve covered most of the things and we hope that we’ve provided you with some tips to help you and your dog be prepared for those outdoor events. If you would like to learn more, or try out some of our fun classes, plus, listen to other podcasts, please visit our website at, www.muttzwithmannerz.com. If you have a question, or a topic you’d like to hear about on a future podcast, please email us at, info@muttzwithmannerz.com. Thank you everyone for joining us. Have a great day, and enjoy those events, and make sure your dog does too. So bye for now. 

Diane Purser  17:13
Bye everyone.

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