Are Festivals Fun for Fido?
Over the long weekend I went to a few festivals/craft show/markets. They were lovely – festive, fun, bright colors, loud noises, and food! Oh, the food. There was a teem of people, and many, many dogs. I sat down to enjoy my food and people watch, which ended up being dog watching.
First, allow me to say I love my dogs, and I like to take them with me when I go places, but I’m not sure festivals like this (designed for people, not pets, though there were no ‘no pets’ signs that I saw) are always the best idea for dogs. I saw a few dogs who were having a lovely time (loose leash, gentle eyes, seemingly unstressed) but I saw far more stressed out, lunging, hauling, panting, drooling, yelping dogs who didn’t seem to be having quite so much fun. Their owners seemed pretty annoyed too.
This made me wonder, how many of us actually take our dogs to festivals or open markets? Is it a good idea? (Quick note, I think this is great for puppy socialization, but for that I would sit down, not walk around. Pups are squishable in such a throng!) What are your thoughts? I’m not sure I’ve made my mind up yet about it…
A lot of what I do with Chico is late-life socialization – he was a stressed, multi-resuce, 5 year old when he came to me – so we go places where there are other people and dogs. Once we had a chance to go to a small fair (Guliford, VT, a very nice fair BTW)and even though it was not especially crowded, we stayed to the side, I gave lots of cookies, and Chico managed to stay calm, though he spent a lot of time pressed close to my side.
I don’t think I’d ever take him to a crowded, big-city, street fair because there’s too much chance of getting stepped on (even though he’s 40 pounds and 20 inches at the shoulder)- and besides, places like that make ME kind of want to lunge, haul on my leash, pant, drool,or yelp – how could I possibly help my dog manage the situation?
In general, not fun. My lab is rather timid and I know that he would be overwhelmed at a festival. I recently went to one and was amazed at how calm most of the dogs were, but there were also several that I wish had stayed home as they were clearly stressed. The other problem at big public affairs is that so many people just don’t have good dog manners and will crowd strange dogs and / or allow their dogs to do the same thing.
I sometimes take “one” of my dogs with me to the farmers market to practice socialization but when I do my focus is more on my dogs needs and behaviours rather than my having a good time. My dogs generally do well but I watch to make sure they have a good experience and do not get overwhelmed. If I am not able to focus on them then I feel it is better to leave them home.