Memorial Day weekend is the official kickoff to summer. And, we midwesterners relish the occasion to celebrate longer days, SUN, and lots of outside time with our pups.
Some dogs enjoy 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 ensure everyone stays safe, has a ball, and doesn’t end up spending their holiday weekend apologizing and stressed out.
Life of the party pup: If your dog happily approaches people on walks and wiggles when guests pet him, chances are, he’ll enjoy being a guest at your 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.
Urban leash walks require a lot of restraint, focus, and limit freedom. So, it’s MUCH better to play a hearty game of fetch, tug, or hide ‘n’ seek to release extra energy, even in the house.
Take treat-filled Kongs or favorite toys (not if your dog guards), so your pup can entertain himself 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 upset most dogs. And, why bother bringing your dog if he’ll be ostracized during the entire event?
Lots of people coming at an anxious mutt REALLY reinforces fears.
And, a dog who’s just getting to know and trust you may not have fully shown his true colors. Testing a dog’s temperament around children and loud noises can wreak havoc on everyone’s holiday.
Speaking of tying your dog to a tree, it’s especially troubling for a fearful dog. It takes one-second for a toddler to approach and hug your fearful dog (without your knowledge), which puts a restrained, scared pup in a VERY bad position. If your frightened dog can’t flee, he may bite. A dog bite (especially one that could easily be prevented) is certain to ruin everyone’s holiday.
Consider the weather and dangerous foods: Pack a bag for your dog with his favorite blanket so he has a place to relax (only if no other dogs will be attending or if your dog is very polite about sharing his belongings), lots and lots of water, and a water bowl.
We REALLY love the Kool Collar for warmer days. But, that doesn’t 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. Remember, our dogs are ALWAYS wearing a fur coat and can VERY quickly overheat.
Humans indulge during holidays, but this isn’t the time to feed your pup every table scrap. You’ll both pay for the dietary indiscretions for days to come. 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 a while to avoid poop soup. Ewwww!
Other dogs: So, your cousin wants to bring her pup to the party too? SO fun, right?
Just because they’re both dogs doesn’t mean they’ll instantly love each other.
Ask yourself and your cousin 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, and no, one dog should join the party this time, and bring the other dog to the next soiree’. A dog fight or scuffle is a sure-fire way to kill a celebratory mood.
If both pups love other dogs, remove all resources (food, beds, toys, etc.) before they arrive. Do slow introductions in a large circle in a neutral space for a few minutes, watching their body language before considering removing the leashes (in an enclosed area only, please).
We hope these pointers will help your dog succeed this holiday weekend. If we’re honest about what our pups enjoy and can handle (behaviorally), the summer will kick off to a MUCH happier start for all!