by Mel Freer
One of the wonderful things about summer is that we finally get a chance to get outside and have some fun with our dogs. There are parks to explore, walks to be taken and fun events to attend all throughout the season.
You may have noticed that many summer events are now geared towards pets and pet owners (Paws on Grand, Pet-a-palooza, etc.) or allow pet owners to bring their dogs along for the day (Grand Old Days, Edina Art Fair, Minneapolis Art Fair, etc.). It’s always fun to be able to include your pet in the festivities, but before you head out the door you should review these tips to ensure both you and your pet have a great time.
Harness your dog – Most of us are used to clipping a leash to our dog’s collar when we go out, but when heading to a crowded and busy event, a harness is a much better option. If your dog gets scared, he is less like to pull out of his harness than his collar. It also allows you to have more control over your dog as you walk around.
Retractable leashes are a faux paw – Make sure the leash you are clipping to your dog’s harness is a fabric leash and not a retractable one. Retractable leashes can be dangerous in large public gatherings; not only for you and your dog, but also for other patrons at the event. They not only give you less control of your dog in an emergency, or when you need to bring them to your side quickly, but they can also get wrapped around someone’s ankles and cause a rope burn or could trip them. And, if your dog gets caught up on something and the plastic handle flies out of your hand, it would snap back at your dog and cause her to run off in fear or get injured by a car, bike or pedestrian.
Hot pads are no fun – It may be surprising to learn that our dog’s tough little pads can get burned, but they can. If you are heading out to an event where you will be walking on asphalt (i.e., the streets in most cities), be aware of your dog’s feet. Hot asphalt can be painful on a dog’s paws. Not sure if it is too hot for your dog’s feet? Hold your hand on the pavement for a minute. If it is too hot for your hand, it is too hot for your dog. Move him quickly to a location that is safer for him.
Water, water, water – One a hot day, dogs are just as at risk for heatstroke as we are. Check to make sure the event will have plenty of water on hand for the dogs. If you are not sure if the event will have water for your dog, then make sure you bring along enough to keep him comfortable and hydrated.
Shy dogs need not apply – If you have a shy or a fearful dog, your best bet is to leave him at home. As much as we want to have our dogs with us at summer events, sometimes what we want is not what is best for our dog. A stressed out dog is more likely to bolt and become lost. He may also aggress towards other dogs out of fear. If your dog is excessively drooling, lip-licking, freezing or shutting down, then it is time to go home. Love your dog enough to know when enough really is enough.
We hope you have a great and safe time with your dog this summer!