Street festival season sees cities temporarily kicking cars off roads to make room for bustling celebrations, and while some of these events are technically dog-friendly, walking through a street festival is very different than a regular walk down the street. What’s fun for you may be freak out inducing for your dog. According to Dr. Wendy McClelland, the chief medical officer of Vets To Go in Calgary, Alberta, we should carefully consider a dog’s personality and temperament before bringing them to such events, because they might actually prefer to sit it out at home. Here’s five reasons to think twice before taking your dog to an outdoor festival.
1. It’s Going To Be Busier Than You’d Imagined
“People underestimate the crowds at these festivals,” explains Dr. McClelland. “A lot of people want to socialize their dogs and their puppies — rightfully so if they’re a bit shy — but a festival just isn’t the right place to do it.”
The dense crowds are no fun for older dogs or those with mobility, anxiety or aggression issues, so dogs in those categories should definitely find another way to spend the day. Even for dogs who don’t check those boxes, a sea of tightly packed people can be overwhelming and definitely isn’t a great place to start socialization training.
“If you want to be ready for the festivals plan to socialize then much more in advance and do it gradually,” Dr. McClelland suggests.
2. They’re Way Hotter Than We Are
What feels like a pleasant summer day five or six feet from the ground can actually be a sauna down at dog level.
“The thing you’ve got to watch for is heat exhaustion,” says Dr. McClelland. “The pavement can be really hot and we sometimes underestimate how much heat they’re getting down there.”
The veterinarian recommends carrying extra water for festival-going dogs and making sure they’re drinking it. Pets will need to hit the shade frequently, so if you don’t want to be taking a lot of breaks, or plan to spend a long time in the sun, it’s best to leave your dog at home and let him enjoy the air conditioning.
3. The Entertainment Can Be Overwhelming
Whether it’s a busker swallowing fire, or a band rocking out, there’s always a lot going on at street festivals. Musical performances and other loud noises can be scary for dogs — especially when the noises are a surprise.
Dr. McClelland says only dogs who are comfortable with loud sounds should attend festivals. If a sudden shout makes your pooch jump, pee or cower, these types of events are definitely not for them.
Volume is another thing to consider for the sake of your dog’s comfort. If music seems loud to you it might be downright ear piercing for them.
4. They Could Get Lost In The Crowd
A sudden loud noise or pounding bass line could be a freaked out dog’s cue to run. No one heads to the festival thinking their dog will get lost, but if you accidentally drop your leash in a loud crowd it could happen easily.
Dr. McClelland suggests festival goers make sure their dog wears proper ID tags and that their microchip information is up to date, just in case.
5. Human Feet Can Be Hazardous
Even if your dog stays tethered to you the whole day, a thick crowd of humans is still a dangerous place to be — even bigger breeds might get stepped on or tripped over. Smaller breeds and young pups are obviously at greater risk of ending up injured under someone’s flip flop, so Dr. McClelland recommends they ride in a dog stroller or puppy purse for safety’s sake.
If you do plan to carry your pup most of the time, you still need to be sure they are up to date on all vaccinations in order to protect them from contagious illnesses like parvo. Super young pups who haven’t had all their shots should stay home from festivals and all public areas until they are immunized.
Do you take your dog to festivals and events? What steps do you take to keep your pup safe?