Tips for Tailgating with Your Dog
Football season is here, which means one thing: tailgating! For many people, the party before the game is what football season is truly all about. Who better to enjoy tailgating with you than someone with her very own tail?
To ensure your dog has a good time at your next tailgate, our in-house expert, Dr. Leslie, answers our questions and provides some tips:
Q: How can I tell if my dog will enjoy a tailgating party?
Dr. Leslie: Are his ears forward? Is he fighting for the bean bag to play a little corn hole? Did he grab the football and ask you to go long? Or, maybe he seems relaxed, tail wagging, ears forward, and doesn't show the signs of distress or nervousness like trying to run away, or doesn't have hair on his back spiked or standing in a frightened or defensive position. Some tailgate parties can get pretty hot — is your dog panting and acting thirsty? Cool, calm and out of the trash are signs your dog is having a good time.
Q: What types of dog food and treats are good for a tailgating party?
Dr. Leslie: As tempting as it is to let Fido and Fluffy enjoy the snacks, letting them get into the human food could be a short pass to the hospital. Greasy, fatty food, like chips, dip, burgers and dogs, ribs, nachos and that secret potato salad are in abundance at most tailgate parties. These foods — and too much of them — can lead to upset gastroenteritis and pancreatitis (the organ that produces the enzymes needed to digest fat).
These can result in an upset tummy, vomiting, and diarrhea, but can also be painfully severe, even life-threatening. Other football-watching food favorites, corn cobs, BBQ ribs and skewers may cause intestinal obstructions or lacerations, which may require emergency surgery. A great option at a tailgate party is to bring along special tailgate treats for your little mascots that are specifically made for them, such as Pup-Peroni® Filet Mignon & Bacon Flavors.
Q: How do I introduce my dog to other dogs at the party?
Dr. Leslie: Any time you introduce new dogs, pay attention to their social cues. But before that, know the other dog. Are they aggressive with other dogs? Are they protective of their owners? Do they "resource guard?" Those "resources" could be food, their owners or a toy. I wouldn't let your dog get too close to a possessive, fearful or aggressive dog, as their behaviors are not as predictable. Also, it's a good idea to make sure they are vaccinated and not sick — nobody wants to deal with a rabies quarantine.
Q: What can I do if my dog seems overwhelmed by the people and noise?
Dr. Leslie: At a party is not the time to intervene or correct what would require months of behavior modification therapy. In that moment, remove them from the situation. Go for a walk, maybe even take them home.
Q: What other things should I bring for my dog to help her enjoy the party?
Dr. Leslie: Healthy snacks, favorite toys that will help entertain and distract them, a "safe place" — a favorite cage or kennel, blanket or pillow will help your dog relax. Of course, some dogs will be happy just to spend time with you, and positive reinforcement and words of encouragement will be all they need.
Q: With all of the noise and distraction at a tailgate, what's the best way to keep my dog safe and close to me?
Dr. Leslie: Unless you are very familiar with the other people and pets at a tailgate, keeping your pet restrained, either on a leash, in a crate or pen is the safest way to keep your pet from danger. However, do NOT leave them locked inside a car — even a car with the window's down can get excessively hot and could lead to heat stroke quickly. Always have a backup plan for restraint that does not include leaving them in the car.
Does your pup love participating in your favorite sporting events? Tell us all about your game-time bonding in the comments below.
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