10 Ways to Enjoy Pet-Friendly Festivals This Summer

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dog and dog owner outdoors
Aleksey Boyko/Shutterstock.com

Outdoor summer festivals can be a great way to spend time out and about with pets. It’s a chance for companionship, healthy exercise and opportunities to connect with other pet owners. But it’s important to take steps to keep pets comfortable with the crowds and the heat. Here are 10 tips for pet-friendly festivals this summer.

Pet-Friendly Festivals: Tips for Festival Planners

  • Use signage to encourage responsible pet ownership. For example, put fun signs around the festival grounds talking about the importance of using a leash and cleaning up after pets. Consider speaking in the “voice” of a dog to draw attention to the messages you’re trying to communicate. Get more signage tips and ideas here.
responsible pet ownership signage
A sample sign to encourage responsible pet ownership.
  • Have lots of water available. Did you know dogs need significantly more water than people do, particularly when it’s hot outside? Have fountains or water stations scattered around your event for everyone’s comfort and health.
  • Help guests do their duty. Offer free pet waste bags and instructions for where to dispose of pet waste once it’s collected. Waste stations are another great opportunity to communicate with text that reminds owners of their important role in community hygiene.
Pet waste station with free bags
Clever waste station messages help remind pet owners to do their duty.
  • Offer shady space for needed rest. Even a small pop-up tent can provide welcome shade for pups who need it. We recommend having at least one Pet Comfort Station at any outdoor event where pet owners can stop to give their pets a break and a drink of water.
  • Communicate, communicate. If there are portions of the festival that are more pet friendly than others, be clear about that in signage and on your website and social media. For example, many dogs are extremely frightened during fireworks. So, if your event has fireworks, make it clear that pet owners should take pets home before those begin.

Pet-Friendly Festivals: Tips for Festival Participants

  • Be prepared. Bring to the festival anything you might need to keep your pet comfortable, including food or treats, pet waste bags, and bottled water and a bowl for spots where water isn’t accessible. Also, remember that walking around on hot pavement in the summer can burn dogs’ paws. Plan your path on grassy areas or use paw protectors.
Puppy drinking from water bowl
Pets need a lot more water than people do. Plan ahead!
  • Be responsible. Keep your pet leashed at all times to protect her and the other people and pets around you. Also, keep an eye on her body language. Is she tired? Thirsty? In need of some shade for a rest? Make sure you’re reading her signals and giving her what she needs to stay happy and healthy.
  • Use training. Before taking your dog to crowded outdoor events, make sure he understands the “come,” “sit,” “stay” and “drop it” cues. These are so important if your dog gets away from his leash, goes to eat something dangerous or gets into a tense situation with another pet. See more training tips here.
relaxed dog
Learn to read your pet’s body language so you know when he’s relaxed.
  • Skip the people foods. If you’re out for a long time and didn’t plan ahead, you might be tempted to let your dog snack on people food at the festival. But it’s better to head home for a healthy meal instead. Many people foods are toxic to pets, including onions, garlic, alcohol, caffeinated beverages, chocolate and many nuts. Don’t take a chance.
  • Know your pet’s limits. Some pets are very social. Others prefer to avoid a crowd. You are the best person to decide what your pet will and will not enjoy. Don’t put her in a situation where she’ll be anxious or unhappy and might act out. Get more tips in our Happy Pet Handbook.