Monday, July 16, 2012

Stay Safe at Doggy Events this Summer

by Brianne Statz, CPDT-KA

Thinking of taking your dog to a dog friendly event?  The Madison area has several large doggy events each year, such as Mounds Dog Fest and Dogs on the Square, as well as other smaller events like Halloween parties at Ruffin’ It Resort or The Dog Haus (two of our training class locations).  The events can be a lot of fun for dogs and people alike, but there are a few things you should keep in mind before grabbing the leash and heading out:

·         If your dog is uncomfortable around strange dogs, strange people, children, or general noise and commotion, don’t force him to go.  While working on making your dog more comfortable is a good idea, going to a large event will likely send your dog “over-threshold”, and could make behavior problems worse.  Socialization is best done in small doses your dog can handle comfortably.

·         Leave the flexi-lead behind!  Most of these events specifically ask you not to bring your dog on a flexi.  You will need to be able to control your dog in crowded areas so a shorter leash is better, and flexi-leads can easily get tangled.  You may also want to consider a front clip harness such as the Easy Walk, or a head collar such as the Gentle Leader.  These tools can help you maximize control over an excited dog and prevent undesirable pulling behavior from being inadvertently rewarded. 

·         It’s great to bring treats along to reinforce your dog’s good behavior.  However, be careful when giving your dog a treat with other dogs close by.  Some dogs can get competitive over food, so reinforce your dog discretely.  It’s also a good idea to bring along some water for your dog. 

·         Have fun!  And watch your dog’s body language to make sure your dog is having fun too.  Excessive panting, yawning, a tucked tail and stiff body posture are all indicators that your dog is not enjoying the event.  Find a quiet spot to the side of the action to see if your dog can relax, or head home and try a smaller event next time. 
Pop into a group class if you'd like more help with specific skills! Check out our class schedule at

Happy Training!

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