Party pups: Tips for bringing your pet to a gathering

Party pups: Tips for bringing your pet to a gathering
Haley Young
4 Jan
2024

First: Make sure your pup wants to tag along!

Not every dog enjoys every situation. And that's okay! Click here to read our article on deciding whether you should take your pup to a gathering in the first place.

Set your dog up for success ahead of time

Once you've decided your dog will benefit from coming with you — either in-the-moment enjoyment or building skills for the future — a little preparation can go a long way.

Pack a few familiar supplies

Does your pup have a favorite cozy bed? They might have an easier time settling in a new place if you bring it along! Do they love chewing on a certain toy? Gnawing on something familiar can take the edge off if they're nervous or overstimulated.

Adjust to your individual dog. Here's an example packing list for bringing your pup to a family dinner:

  • Favorite dog bed or mat
  • Favorite chew toy
  • Training treats
  • Familiar water bowl

Work on some helpful training skills

Different situations call for different behavior. Some common cues that make get togethers easy include:

  • "Place" or another "go to your bed and stay there" cue
  • "Leave it" to ignore something that's been dropped on the ground
  • A recall cue to stop what they're doing and come back to you
  • General impulse control around distractions

Tell your friends and family members what to do

It takes a village to train a dog. Get your loved ones on board! Before showing up with your pup, let your friends and family know what to expect — and be clear about any rules you have to set everyone up for success.

Here are some example phrases to keep in your back pocket and customize as needed:

  • "She does best if people ignore her at first. Once she's settled in, I'll tell you when you can say hi!"
  • "We're working on dinner manners, so please don’t feed him people food from the table. But I can give you some dog treats to share with him afterward!"
  • "Please don't pet her if she's resting on her bed. We want to avoid riling her up when she's relaxing!"
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Fulfill your dog before going somewhere new

If you're able to, meet your pup's needs before arriving at your get together. This will help them be in the best state of mind to relax! Each dog needs their own balance of physical and mental stimulation. Here are some ideas to start with:

  • Go for a sniffy walk where your pup gets to lead the way
  • Play a game of fetch, tug, chase, or whatever your dog loves best
  • Feed their meal in an enrichment toy like a snuffle mat or other puzzle

Don't be afraid to manage the situation

Good news. Your dog doesn't have to handle every part of a family dinner or party all on their own. You can help them out!

  • Keep your pup on leash if you think they'll need some guidance throughout the event
  • Reward good behavior frequently with tasty treats or a quick round of a favorite game
  • Use baby gates to your advantage if you want to limit the space they can explore
  • Interrupt any interactions that make your dog uncomfortable or too hyped up

Be ready to give your dog a break if needed

And if managing things gets to be a little tiring... that's okay. You can always take your dog on a short walk to decompress, give them some alone time in a crate or back room, or take them home early if you need to. Sometimes you don't know until you try a new experience — and you can take what you've learned to adjust for next time!

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