About a decade ago I wanted to bring my dog V everywhere. One place I really wanted to bring him to was a festival in my hometown of Kent that took place every year. At the time, I didn’t stop to consider how he may actually feel about going to huge festival. Long story short, when I got down there, they had a sign up saying no pets allowed. This upset me, but looking back now, it was a good thing. The things that we enjoy aren’t always that enjoyable to dogs. When I think of parades or festivals I think of loud music and people everywhere. Often there is alcohol involved too which can cause people to be a little extra touchy/feely with dogs. Down here in Louisiana it’s Mardi Gras season. The other day, my family and I went to a parade downtown Baton Rouge and I saw a couple of dogs there. All the dogs that I saw were incredibly stressed. How did I know? It was all in their body language and behavior. They were all panting, licking their lips and were hyper-vigilant. For them, they had no idea what was going to happen next. Was the incredibly loud music going to start again? Was someone in a costume going to walk up and try to touch their head? They didn’t know, but it was clear that they weren’t excited about it. It’s very important that we watch for subtle stress related behaviors from our dogs. Just because they’re not lunging and barking doesn’t mean they’re not stressed. And if enough stressful events happen at the same time, their behavior may escalate to barking and lunging or even a bite. This is what is referred to as trigger stacking. In closing, the answer for the vast majority of dogs, (if not all dogs) is that we shouldn’t bring them to parades and other loud crowded gatherings. Leave them at home with something fun to work on or a pet sitter.
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