Expert Q&A

I’ve always wanted to show off my female dog in my town’s Halloween parade, but she can be skittish, especially when she’s around crowds. What can I do to prepare and train her?

BY: The Dog Daily Expert

Parades can be either tremendous fun or a nightmare for dogs. On the upside, they provide yet another activity we can share with our pets. Parades also provide a great opportunity to show off our pets, as you mention. Dogs understand the attention and often make new friends among the other canines along the parade route.

As Kyra Sundance points out in her fun book 101 Ways to Do More With Your Dog!, your dog needs to be socialized to get into the parade vibe. If not, the strange people, unfamiliar dogs, loud and unpredictable noises, costumes and more could feel like your dog’s worst dream ever.

Socialization is a long-term process, so you cannot train your dog at the last minute if it isn’t already acclimated to being in busy social environments. Such socialization should take place from puppyhood onward. Hopefully your dog has already gone through the process and is ready to go.

If that’s the case, Sundance advises bringing water and pickup bags. Don’t assume the event organizers will have these readily accessible. Depending on the weather, also pay attention to the temperature of the substrate by checking it with your hands. Asphalt on a hot day can cause damage to sensitive paws. A costume plus warm weather could spell disaster.

Some parade participants elect to carry their dogs. If your pet is well-socialized but infirm or elderly, carrying it may be the best solution -- so long as you can do it comfortably. Assuming everything works out and you both have a fantastic time, you might consider going to other dog-friendly parades throughout the year. Two very popular ones: the annual Woofstock, which is held in different cities, and the Barkus Pet Parade in St. Louis.

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Tags: dog care , dog safety , dog training

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