Taking Your Dog to Crowded Places

Maestro gets fidgety after sitting for too long. He needs stretch his legs before listening to the next band. Photo by R-M Arca. Spring has finally arrived in Calgary. The sun has been shining brightly. People have been sporting shorts and capris. Even the family dogs are eager to sit in the backyard and catch some rays.

Outdoor festivals will be starting soon too. Lots of people will be out and about, not to mention loud music and all sorts of sounds.

Can you take your dog with you? Well yes, sometimes. However, to make it a pleasant experience for the entire family, you have to train together.

I've been taking Maestro out to festivals since he was approximately three years-old. Some festivals don't allow regular dogs on-site, but events like the Calgary Folk Festival take place in one area of a park. Maestro and I join the other families with their dogs and chill on the "free side of the fence".

I think the first time, I drove downtown and parked really close to Prince's Island Park. I picked one of the quieter times to head to the park and it wasn't too hot. Maestro and I brought snacks, water and poopy bags along with a blanket and his Doggles. We didn't stay too long - probably just a couple of hours.

With each passing event, Maestro came on longer festival "adventures". A few years back, he got his own backpack to carry his gear. It makes him feel special.

A few things I've learned along the way are:

  • Know Your Dog: Do you know the signs your dog gives out when stressed? Angry? Hungry? Frightened? Needs to relieve him or herself? Tired? Overheated? You need to keep a vigilant eye on your pet and react quickly.
  • Know the Area: When you arrive, scout out the area. You need to know where are the quiet areas that you can take your dog for a timeout. Also, you have to find a shady spot for your furry friend so he or she doesn't overheat.
  • Keep an Eye Out for Irritants: If your dog has a fear of big truck engines or displays with loud generators, pick a different route. If you see a bunch of noisy kids or dogs up ahead, a little distance will do you good.
  • Keep Together: You can't help your dog if you're 20 feet away and he or she is in distress. The bigger the crowd, the more important it is that you have your dog on a tight leash. It's as much for your dog's protection as everyone else's.
  • Train your dog: If your dog doesn't know the equivalent of "heel", "come", "leave it", "stay", "stop", then your dog isn't ready yet.

Here are some informative articles I've come across on dogs and crowds:

Dogs and Crowds from Cats and Dogs Naturally

Dogs and Crowds from Paddington Pups

Dogs and Crowd Control from Cesar's Way

Cesar's article especially is worth a read.