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One of the things that I love about living in the Pacific Northwest are how pet friendly most events are; as the summer months approach (yes, they’ll be here before you know it), I’ll be planning which street fairs and dog festivals I’ll be attending with our dogs.

Cheryl, a librarian and dog lover, shared street fair etiquette for dog parents who will be attending dog friendly fairs and festivals.  For more etiquette posts, check out my article about dog park etiquette.

Most street fair attendees are only thinking of the curly fries and the fabulous handmade early Christmas presents they can score, but responsible pet owners know there is more to attending a street fair than shopping and eating.

Dog Distractions

Street fairs are a great exposure for my Southeastern guide dog puppy in training.  Because I know I will be walking a working dog through the fair, I try to pick smaller fairs that won’t overwhelm my puppy.  Smaller fairs will attract a smaller crowd, resulting in fewer dogs to meet.  Here are some things pet parents might want to keep in mind when you are taking your pet to a street fair:

  1. Pay Attention.  It’s not ok to forget the you have your pet with you.  Keep them by your side, with a loose leash, ready to pull them back harm if something or someone approaches.  If you are attracted by jewelry or baked goods, settle your furbaby into a down stay in front of you, and then lean over them to inspect the goods.  That way they are taken care of, you can take your time looking and no one gets a stray nose in the crotch.
  2. Not everyone is as thoughtful as you. There is always one person whose dog is on a leash that extends 90 feet as he is looking at some hideous art in wonderment.  Of course that dog will be coming over and bothering your furbaby.  Of course that man will not notice or be concerned about it.  These people tend to stick out in the crowd.  They are huge annoyances and are best avoided. Do not engage them.  Smile and go around them.
  3. Trouble comes from behind. Yep.  Always be aware of what is coming up from the rear because it might be a big doberman.  I speak from experience here. Just as you teach your child to look both ways before crossing the street, teach yourself to check all compass points for what is coming your way.

Food Distractions

While it may seem that people and their pets are the biggest worry you will have at the street fair, it isn’t.  You will also need to be aware of where you are walking and what is on the ground.

  1. Food Court.  The dining area is always a danger area for several reasons: overflowing trashcans, picnic tables laden with food and people eating, people walking to and fro carrying food and the inevitable spills.  If your furbaby is a lunger, be especially careful around this area or avoid it completely.  You might want to get something to go and eat someplace else.
  2. Dropped Food.  Many people will order food and eat on the run as they peruse the stands.  That means that there will be lots of dropped food on the ground for your dog to gobble up along the way.  If your dog has a sensitive stomach, you might want to reconsider bringing him to the street fair.  One of our pups would get explosive diarrhea at the slightest bite of any people food.  Any street fair exposure was fraught with nervousness and hyper-vigilance.
  3. Smells.  Your pet may be less inclined to behave the nearer you get to Indian Fry Bread stand.  I know I have a hard time keeping it together around fry bread!  Be aware of where you are and adjust your expectations.  You may want to walk quickly past the booth to a less smelly area.

Bring a friend

Street fairs are fun.  There are lots of things to see, eat and do.  Taking along a friend will ensure that you will be better able to navigate the fair.  Your pet will have a better time if you and your friend are able to tag team and share the responsibilities of shopping and watching out for dog and food distractions.
Good luck!

Cheryl Mclean’s Bio: I am a high school librarian.  I thought raising guide dog puppies for Southeastern Guide Dogs for the blind would fill that empty place when having children was not an option.  Having a guide dog puppy with us at all times changed our lives. When we got our first puppy I started the blog The McLean Puppy Chronicles, which tells the story of how sometimes when you start a project where you think you will be giving back, you end up receiving so much more in return. 



Do you attend dog friendly street fairs and festivals?  Which ones do you attend in your town and do you bring your dog?

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