The Memorial Centre grounds has a dog park and walking/running path right around the corner, so we get a LOT of dogs at market. To support the warm community environment at market, we encourage dog owners to be courteous to their dog and to others — no matter how friendly your dog is generally, they might not always be friendly with other dogs or people at market.
Your dog may be totally relaxed and happy in other environments…but may become stressed in a crowd. With so many new smells and noises, children running around, people accidentally stepping or tripping — no matter how well you know you dog, their behaviour might change in response to everything going on around them.
Here are some tips to keep your pupper pal happy and healthy at market:
1. Start early.
If you have a puppy, there is no time like the present to get them used to be being in crowds. Expose them to as many sights, smells, sounds, dogs, and people as you can. The more you desensitize them when they are young, the easier it will be to be comfortable in crowds as they grow up.
2. Know your dog’s limits, avoid overstimulation.
At home, with the help of friends, their kids and dogs, see what situations make your dog uncomfortable. It’s better to find out at home that your dog might snap when touched from behind (for example) than for them to snap at a stranger. Or worse, after one bad experience your dog could develop a fear of crowds!
It’s also good to take note of how your dog shows anxiety so you can get them out of the crowd before they get really uncomfortable. Once you know the signs, you can take breaks away from the crowd to relax.
3. Keep your dog close.
The closer your dog is to you, the more comfortable everyone will be. It’s not just for your dog’s safety — a long leash can be a big tripping hazard for anyone walking through the crowd, and flex leads are hard to see, even from nearby.
Not to mention food safety! Keeping them close means they are less likely to eat something dangerous, or contaminate food for sale. Please be sure to keep your dogs a few feet away from tables with food or fragile objects.
4. Be aware.
One of the most important things about controlling your dog in a crowd is not about the dog at all.
We have all seen the owner who is busy talking to someone while their dog is pestering a person, getting into a fight with another dog, or eating something that might be dangerous. This is a situation that is easily avoided by using a short leash and keeping an eye on your dog while you talk to other people.
We love all the fur-babies that come to market – here’s to many happy and healthy market days for all! Don’t forget to stop by the White Paws tent for a free sample treat!