How to manage your dog at big public events
Summertime is upon us (well, at least it should be soon!) so the world of big, public, dog friendly events is here. This can be good or bad depending on your dog. Are these events good for everyone? Like dog parks and doggie day care, NO not good for everyone but there are some things you can do to help your dog at these events and even make them FUN – for both of you! I have a few simple suggestions…
- Treat, treats, treats! Invest in an inexpensive treat bag that attaches to your clothing. When you want to desensitize your dog to ANYTHING you pair “scary” stimulus with something your dog LOVES. This usually means chicken/liver/cheese/hot dogs…. When your dog is exposed to something that makes him uncomfortable or uneasy, chicken/liver/cheese falls from the sky. Your dog’s reaction is unimportant; we just want to change his base emotional response to that “scary” or uncomfortable stimulus. Dole out the treats generously at these events!
- Keep your dog on a short leash. You cannot control your dog’s reactions or protect him from anyone/thing if he is 6 feet away from you. Your dog should be close enough that you could reach your hand (filled with liver treats!) in front of his nose and reel his attention back up to you. Throw out that flexi-leash!
- If your dog pulls on leash put him on a head collar (Gentle Leader Halti) or front clip harness (Wonder Walker, Easy Walk, Freedom harness etc.). Tension around your dog’s neck can cause physical and behavioral damage.
- Know your dog’s limits. If your dog is stressed and uncomfortable at these events, leave him home. Work on some behavior modification and desensitizing exercises before you expose him to so much. Learn to read your dog’s body language and signs of stress so that you can first recognize and then HELP him to feel more comfortable.
For more info on body language, signs of stress and safely socializing your dog take a look at these: