The Super Pet Expo is just a week away! This event has lots of fun things to offer both humans and canines. For the humans, you can shop from many vendors of unique, pet-related products: beds, treats, collars, clothes, toys, etc. For the dogs, there are several activities: small and big dog play areas, a dock diving pool, and a lure game for dogs who like to chase!
So it sounds awesome, and you want to take your dog. But how do you know if your dog is going to enjoy his time at the Expo as much as you will?
For adult dogs, consider the following:
Does your dog like being around other dogs?
Does he greet other dogs in a calm, friendly manner? Look for signs such as a loosely wagging, raised tail, ears forward, and a relaxed face.
If your dog is pulling so much that you don’t need to go to the gym tomorrow, and lunging at other dogs, he is not a good candidate. While your dog might be enjoying himself, he’s going to intimidate others.
Likewise, if your dog is hiding behind your leg, tail tucked, ears are back and his lips are pulled back tight into a “smile,” he would rather let you shop alone at the Expo.
Check out this link for more information on identifying signs of anxiety/stress in your dog: https://fearfreehappyhomes.com/fearful-fido/
Your dog likes being around other people and is comfortable with tiny humans
LOTS of people come out to enjoy the Expo and look at all the cute dogs! If large crowds, strange people, or the unpredictable hands and fast movements of tiny humans make your dog uncomfortable, you should think twice about bringing him along.
With so many toys, treats, people, and other pets around, it’s very important that your dog is obedient on a leash to avoid an accident.
I strongly recommend using a harness rather than a collar. A dog who pulls on collars can put a lot of pressure on his windpipe, and cause discomfort, difficulty breathing, coughing, and/or gagging. Front-lead harnesses (the ring to clip the leash is on the front of the dog’s chest, rather than on the back) are really helpful for dogs who like to pull. Or look into a gentle leader- with a halter type loop over the nose. For any leash/harness, always make sure to read the instructions to ensure a proper fit
This is the MOST important consideration. Before taking your dog (especially a puppy!) out into a dog-dense location, it’s critically important that he is up to date on vaccinations to protect himself and others.
Dogs socializing with other dogs in public should be up to date on their rabies, distemper, and bordetella vaccines.
If you are unsure of how your dog will react, attach a yellow or red ribbon to his leash and/or harness, to alert others that he may not like attention.
You can also get creative and make a t-shirt with a gentle warning, “Anxious. Please do not pet me.”
What if you have a young puppy, working on socialization skills and outings, and want to use the Expo as a training time? This could work, with a few precautions.
First and foremost, make sure your puppy is on track with his vaccination schedule.
Attend the Expo at times less popular times of day to avoid overwhelming his senses.
Bring your pup in a cart/stroller to minimize exposure to germs on the ground, especially if he is less than 5 months of age.
Keep some sanitizer handy for new people to use prior to petting your puppy to avoid disease transmission.
Minimize or prevent interactions with other dogs, as there is no way to know their vaccination status or how they may interact with the puppy.
Remember, it’s your responsibility to advocate for your puppy. It is OK to decline peoples’ request to pet your puppy or ask them to refrain if they forget to ask permission.
The Super Pet Expo is a very fun family-friendly event for all. Make sure to bring LOTS and LOTS of treats from home for positive reinforcement. Keep an eye on your dog’s behavior for signs of anxiety, and make adjustments as needed. That may be offering some treats and re-focusing, taking a time-out in a quiet corner, or even leaving the Expo a little early. Do not force your dog to participate in the dog activities. Remember to use lots of positive encouragement, treats, and patience. For example, Skipper has not yet been exposed to water (only ice so far this year, sadly), so you would not find us leaping from the dock diving exhibit. We suspect he *might* like the lure exhibit though!
Have a great time at the Super Pet Expo, and make sure to stop by and see our emergency team at the Dulles South Veterinary Center booth for fun freebies from March 15, 2019 to March 17, 2019!