A Dog's Day Out - Attending Canine Events with your Primitive Dog

This past weekend many Couch Wolves’ members attended the Tail Waggin Events - Canine Fun Day in Robbinsville New Jersey. Fun was had by all. It is important to remember however that fun isn’t guaranteed without careful planning and consideration. If you ever attend dog focused festivals, sports trials, or camps, planning ahead is essential to having a fun with your primitive partner.

In 2015 I broke my foot but because of careful planned was still able to take my dogs to events.

In 2015 I broke my foot but because of careful planned was still able to take my dogs to events.

Plan as far out in advance as possible.
Try not to plan spir of the moment events. Give yourself plenty of time to assemble to the supplies and the training skills needed to have an enjoyable time. Events with loud music and big crowds will take acclimation beforehand. Try to set up mock events with situations similar to the setting of the event. A dress rehearsal will allow you to fill in any training or planning gap you might have forgotten.

Make a schedule.
Plan out the day including activities, breaks, and travel time. Know what you are doing when, which dog if you are bringing multiple and remember food, water and potty breaks for both species. You don’t have to stick to the schedule precisely but having something to remind you to space things out and pace yourself will leave everyone involved, happier.

If the event you are attending doesn’t have a strict schedule, plan a list of tasks for when you arrive, leave, and at time-frames in between so that you don’t forget to take care of yourself and your dog. Again you don’t have to be rigid, but get it down on paper or in a note on your phone.

Consider the weather.
Most primitive dogs will require some down time. That is why we strongly recommend you spend some time during the day in your car away from all the excitement. This means considering the weather. On hot days or warm days with dogs in coat, have plenty of water, fans and a sunshade for your car. 

In colder weather consider your dog’s coat thickness and length. Dogs in coat can tolerate the cold longer but not forever. Dress shortcoated dogs in coats if they are cold or let them nest in blankets. Turn the heat on if they are cold, but be sure to close all doors and windows and be considerate of other cars if you idle your car. Remember that CO2 can get into your car and cars around you if you’re not careful. Remember to still provide ample water even in cold weather.

Even if you crate inside, have crates outside for actual down time. If you seriously can't crate in your car because of parking distance or something similar, cover your crates with a blanket and keep them on the outskirts of the event.

Even if you crate inside, have crates outside for actual down time. If you seriously can't crate in your car because of parking distance or something similar, cover your crates with a blanket and keep them on the outskirts of the event.

Car containment
I can’t recommend this enough - Crate your dog in the car! Both for travel safety and for containment at events, a crate is vital. Even the safest driver can be hit by another driver and outside of a crate your dog is unlikely to survive. Parked, an uncrated dog can escape a window, or slip out as a door opens. Crates create comfy nests for your dog. You can even attach aforementioned water and fans to the sides of them. 

I also can’t recommend enough that you should use your car for rest periods as mentioned before. Your dog does not need to be created in the middle of the action. Crating in your car offers significant down time away from stressors and allows the dog to become more resilient when they go back to the excitement. Keeping a dog in a busy area does the opposite, increasing stress and intolerance to a space. 

Car containment also allows you the chance to eat, drink, hit the restroom, and socialize without having to worry about your dog. Give each other a break and crate in your car. 

*One additional added benefit of creating in the car… if a crazy person ever breaks your car window to “save” your dog, they are contained and safe verses escaping and getting lost or hit by a car. My own dogs are crated out of reach and visibility so no one bothers my car or my dogs.

Be sure to bring the following with you to any event:

  • 1 gallon of water per dog (Yes I know your dog doesn’t drink that much, but trust me, emergencies happen and you’ll be grateful you had it.)

  • 1 meal per dog (Again most events you won’t need to feed your dog, but things happen and you’ll be glad you have it.)

  • 1 bag of training treats per dog (yes you actually should be rewarding and training… always)

  • 1 crate per dog

  • 1 blanket per dog

  • A sun shade blanket for the car

  • 1 fan per dog with batteries

  • 1 water bucket per crate

  • 1 food dispensing toy or chewy per 4 hours of event and travel time (give your dog something to do!)

  • 2 sets of leash and collar/harness - No retractable leashes (never use retractable leashes in public settings or at events, the extra set is for when your dog chews through it, or it wears out - yes it will happen to you at some point)

  • Poop bags

  • A bag for garbage

  • Pet waste cleaning solution and paper towels (because accidents happen)

  • 2 days of your dog’s medications (because emergencies happen)

  • A copy of your dog’s vet records

  • An emergency contact card on the driver’s seat or attached to the crates (because emergencies happen)

  • A book (because you need down time too)

  • Human snacks (because you never know what human food will be available)

  • $50 cash (because emergencies happen… especially retail therapy emergencies)

  • EZ-Pass (it’s 2017, it’s worth it)

  • An external battery pack and charger for your phone

  • A rain jacket

  • Dry socks

Try New Things - Sometimes…
Enrichment is important and fun days and festivals are great places to try new things to see if you and your dog like them. BUT seriously consider your dog’s training and emotional needs before trying new things. Don’t take your dog off leash if they are aggressive to humans or other animals, even if the area is fenced. If a fenced area has open entrances and exits with no way of closing them, and your dog has no recall around heavy distractions - Do not take them off leash!

In the flip side if your dog is safe in those scenarios or you can participate on leash, go ahead and play. Always let your dog choose to quit if they want to. Never push them to do something their not having fun with. Don’t have an outcome planned except safety and fun. This is especially true if you choose to expose your dog to agility at an event. Katie and I can’t stress enough to reconsider exposing your dog to the Dog Walk, A-Frame, and Teeter outside of a class environment. Those pieces of equipment are dangerous and if your dog gets scared on it, you are going to spend 1-3 years minimum, fixing it if you even want to pursue training in agility.

Take Breaks
As mentioned earlier, down time is key to fun. Don’t keep your dog out in the open the entire day. For a full 6-8 hour day, plan in at least 3-4 breaks. No more than an hour or two at a time is emotionally healthy for most dogs.

Heading Home
When the day is done, water and potty your dogs, give them a chewie or food toy and hit the road… well after you water and potty yourself and have a snack! If you are too tired, consider getting a hotel room somewhere if you have a long drive. Getting home safe is the most important thing and if you packed all the supplies above, you’ll have everything your dog needs for a hotel stay.

If you or your do have had enough before your pre-planned leaving time, go ahead and leave early. No one should be forcing you to stay and if your dog is stressing, staying longer just does more damage. Try to end events on a high note or every a break so that you’re both relaxed before hitting the road. 


What was the last event you took your dog to? Share it in the Facebook Community!