Memorial Day weekend is the official kickoff to summer. And, midwesterners relish the occasion to celebrate longer days, SUN and lots of outside time with our pups. Some dogs enjoy being a part of big, backyard barbecues and loud family gatherings at local parks. But, not all canines enjoy the shenanigans and festivities. Here are a few tips to make sure everyone stays safe, has a ball and does not end up spending their holiday weekend apologizing and stressed out.
Life of the party pup If your dog is one of those pooches who happily pounces on every person on a walk and wiggles when anyone pets him or her; chances are, he or she will enjoy partying with you at a friend’s gathering. But, to prevent food flying off peoples’ plates or your exuberant hound toppling over your best friend, get in plenty of SUPER fun exercise before the event. Leash walks in the city require a lot of restraint, focus and limit freedom. So, it is MUCH better to play a hearty game of fetch, tug or hide ‘n’ seek to release some crazy energy, even in the house. Skip the “wait” with hide ‘n seek and toss treats for “find” so your dog gets lots and lots of movement out of his or her system.
And, take some frozen Kongs or favorite toys (not if your dog likes to guard) so your pooch can busy him or herself while you enjoy time with other guests. Always keep your dog close, especially outside. Attaching your dog to a tree, 30-feet away from you, while you chat and laugh would be very upsetting for almost all dogs. And, why bother bringing your canine goofball if he or she will be ostracized during the entire event?
New rescue dog or fearful dog There is a lot of unpredictability at holiday functions so this is not the time to introduce a fretful dog to friends nor show off your new rescue dog. Lots of people coming at an anxious mutt can REALLY reinforce fears. And, a dog who is just getting to know and trust you may not have fully shown all of his or her true colors. Testing a dog’s temperament around children and loud noises can wreak havoc on everyone’s holiday.
And, speaking of tying to a tree. Good gravy, never ever do it. But, especially with a new pup or fearful dog. It just takes a second for a toddler to approach and hug your dog without your knowledge; putting a restrained, scared pup in a VERY bad position. If he or she can not flee, a bite is a real possibility. And, NO ONE wants to lose their dog or be responsible for another person’s injury.
Consider weather and dangerous foods Make sure to pack a bag just for your dog with a favorite blanket to relax on (only if no other dogs will be attending or if your dog is very polite about sharing his or her “stuff”), lots and lots of water and a water bowl. We REALLY love the Kool Collar for warmer days. But, that does not mean your dog should be outside for hours on a 90-degree day. If the forecast is scheduled to be super hot, plan to take your pup somewhere to cool off every 15 minutes or so. Remember, our dogs are ALWAYS wearing a fur coat and can VERY quickly overheat.
Humans indulge during holidays but, this is not the time to feed your pup every table scrap. You will both pay for the dietary indiscretions for days to come. And, at worst, if someone sneaks your pooch something from the dangerous food list, you could end up in the emergency room. Take your own treats and an extra meal if you plan to stay for awhile so you can avoid poop soup. Ewwww!
Other dogs So, your cousin is in town and wants to bring their pup to the party, too? SO fun, right? Just because they are both dogs does not mean they will instantly love each other. Ask yourself and your friend or family member these questions. Does your dog LOVE other dogs? Has your dog ever bitten or growled at another dog? Has your pup even been around any other dogs, ever or recently? If the answers were no, yes OR no; work out a system where one dog joins the party this time and the other dog is invited to the next soiree’. A dog fight or scuffle is sure fire way to kill the party mood.
If it seems like all puppies are social butterflies, be sure all resources (food, beds, toys, etc.) are locked away. And, do slow introductions in a large circle in a neutral space for a few minutes, watching their body language, before even considering removing the leashes (in an enclosed area only, please).
We hope these pointers will help your dog succeed this holiday weekend. If we are all honest about what our pups enjoy and can handle behaviorally; the summer will kick off to a MUCH happier start for all!