Whether it’s a dog’s breakfast/day out, bark in the park, totally pawsome, or some other clever combination there is no doubt, in Perth, Spring is pet festival season.
As well as the local council run events there are the regular gatherings of breed fanciers. To help every pooch and person have fun on these days out, here are a few tips to keep you smiling on the day.
Before you go
Consider your dog’s age, activity level, and personality. How long is it since you have taken them out in company, and how long do you usually spend walking? If you dog usually only goes out alone with you for a 20-minute walk each day they may not appreciate being out for a couple of hours in a crowd of canines. Some dogs, often the mature ones, don’t enjoy other dogs wanting to get too friendly.
Learn your dog’s personality when it comes to group situations: What is your dog like in social situations? Dogs who are attention-seeking would love these types of outings, as they get attention from both humans and other canines. Are there personality types your dog clashes with? Do they tend to be an instigator, a moderator or the target? Are they fearful around certain types of dogs or in certain situations? Do they pay attention to social cues from other dogs even when they are excited? Do they tend to panic, or freeze, or lash out when things get tense?
It may end up that once you take a good look at how your dog is in social situations, you’ll decide that the dog day out is not the place for them at all. And that’s okay! Your dog is wonderful even if socialising with strangers isn’t a good activity for them.
Exercise your dog’s brain and body before you get there
This simple step will dramatically reduce the potential for problems. Before you head to a dog event take a walk or run with your dog and get out all that pent-up energy that can be the source of so much doggy drama. Don’t take a wired-up dog into a stimulating environment like a dog park. That’s the physical exercise part, but you also need to mentally exercise your dog before you arrive. Practice recall, lying down on command, leave it. Ensuring your dog has at least the most basic obedience skills, and a good recall helps you maintain some control even when accidental off-leash moments happen. Your dog should respond to either “Stop” or “No”.
Be on alert with kids
Children are a mid-level food opportunity, and let’s face it, some of the things our children eat or drop are definitely not good for dogs. Children also love to play with dogs, but may not always know how to play properly. They may tease dogs or play rough with them, which can make dogs snappy or overly-excited. Children can also get knocked over or bitten, in the worst cases. Always keep a close eye on both the child and the dog and remove them from each other should play get too rough or over-stimulated.
Avoid congregating for too long
Chatting with other humans rather than supervising the dogs, or spending more time looking at a smartphone screen than at the dogs can be a recipe for disaster. If you are waiting to talk to someone at a stand make sure your dog is relaxed and happy while you wait.
Watch out if you are bringing food
If you don’t want your lunch stolen by a slobbery thief or the attention of all the dogs at the park please don’t bring your favourite take away to eat on your way around the stands. And if you have food you can’t finish yourself don’t give it to the cutest pair of begging eyes you see, at least not without checking with their pet parent first.
Dog friendly events can be fun and informative for owners of social fur babies, but remember not to stay too long and keep an eye out for signs of stress in your pet.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Carmel has had an interest in physical rehabilitation for dogs and cats from her early experience vet nursing in country Western Australia from 1984. Travelling to the U.K. in 1994 she discovered small animal physiotherapy in its infancy, and has been working towards improving quality of life and outcomes following injury or disease for our furry friends since 1996.
Most recently certified as a canine rehabilitation practitioner with the University of Tennessee. Before that an active member of the National Association of Veterinary Physiotherapists in the U.K.
Active Pet Rehabilitation