Stress Free Dog Shows and Events.
Attending dog shows and other events with your canine companion, is one of the most enjoyable aspects of dog owning. But, do our dogs always enjoy it as much as we do? Read our Holidays4Dogs article to find out more about how you and your pooch can enjoy stress free dog shows and events.
Many of us enjoy spending time with our furry friends at shows and events. There are various dog events that take place every summer at various venues around the country. From small fetes and fun dog shows, to large championship shows, dock diving and cani-cross there’s often a canine event happening near you.
We could also include other places where dogs are welcome and where there might be lots going on – dog friendly cafes, craft fairs and agricultural events, for example.
Many dogs enjoy getting out and about with their owners, engaging with new people and saying ‘hello’ to unfamiliar dogs, of all shapes and sizes. However, others may find such events harder to cope with and, as a result, may show signs of being uncomfortable and stressed.
It is up to us, as owners, to be aware of our dog’s body language in order to understand when our dogs are not comfortable and, therefore, not enjoying the situation we have put them in. While it is tempting to think your dog is better off accompanying you as much as possible, sometimes it may be kinder to leave him, or her, at home. This might only be for a day, or for an extended period when you go on holiday and might want to consider dog home boarding.
When might it be best to leave your dog at home?
- If your dog is fearful, or reactive towards other dogs, or people. Address this with a qualified behaviourist before you attempt to mix closely with strange people, or dogs.
- If your dog is elderly. Just like older people, ageing dogs often prefer a quieter life, away from the hustle and bustle.
- If your dog is very young – too much noise, over stimulation, or less than positive experiences could do more harm than good. Build up new experiences gradually.
Even the most laid back dogs can become somewhat overwhelmed when faced with new and novel environments. Therefore, it is important to carefully watch your dog for signs of stress.
- Ears pinned back.
- Licking of lips.
- Excessive panting.
- Whale eye.
- Cowering, hiding, shaking.
- Pulling hard on the lead, or lagging behind.
- Growling, lunging, attempting to bite.
If your dog shows any signs of the above, it is best to remove your dog from the situation as soon as possible. If you already know your dog is likely to display these behaviours, seek advice from a good dog trainer, or behaviourist. They will be able to help your dog feel more relaxed using positive behaviour modification.
How to make sure your dog is stress-free at a dog show, or other event.
- If at any point your dog seems to becoming over excited, or anxious, take your dog to a quieter spot so he can settle down.
- When you are in the show ring, make sure there is plenty of space between you and the other dogs. If your dog is uncomfortable at any time, it would be better to leave the ring altogether. This is particularly so if your dog appears unhappy being handled by the judge.
- Try not to mingle for long periods amongst tightly packed crowds of people, or other dogs.
- Do try and watch other dog’s behaviour as well, so you can see whether conflict might occur.
- Dogs shows are often noisy places with dogs barking and loud speakers/hailers being used throughout the day. Some dogs will find this un-nerving, so again, give your dog time out in a quieter spot.
- Make sure your dog is hydrated enough. Always take plenty of water and spend time in the shade frequently
- Handle your dog gently and positively – if you intend to go to shows regularly, practice show ring training beforehand.
Attending dog shows and other events can be an enjoyable day out for everyone – including Fido! However, remember, not all dogs will be as happy to join in as others. Have fun, but always be aware of how your dog is feeling.
For a list of some canine events taking place in 2024 hop over to our other article to find out more and get the heads up.