Tuesday, March 15, 2011

City Dog: How to Prepare to Take your Dog to a Parade

I think part of the reason people were treating Miss M like an exotic zoo animal during Chicago's downtown St. Patrick's Day Parade was because they were shocked to see a dog so well-behaved amongst all the chaos. The other dog-owners we met at the parade were curious to know "our secret". We know all dogs are different, but these are some things we've done to prepare our dogs for crazy and crowded situations:

1) Explore different areas as our regular routine
 Mr. B used to be a country dog, and when we first adopted him he was overwhelmed with all the sights, sounds, and scents of the city. It used to be so hard just taking him on a walk because he needed to check out EVERYTHING. Eventually, we made it a habit to go on our  "family walks" and as he was continually exposed to new situations and sounds, it didn't become as big of a deal for him.

2)  Practice sitting in crowded areas
The above photo was taken by Miss M's pet eye camera. I can imagine it can be quite scary being so low to the ground and having to move among all these legs going in different directions. To prepare her for crowds, Miss M and I used to practice sitting in crowded locations. Back when I lived in Lincoln Square, we would go sit in the square where she would practice "sit stays" and "down stays" as crowds would pass by, and kids would run around her. We started out just doing a minute or two each day, but then she was able to stay longer. Just check out her concentration in this photo where she is able to "stay" with her back to a creepy leprechaun and a crazy drunk guy flailing about in the background:

3) Practice training all the time:
I can always get Miss M's attention by bringing treats and asking her to perform We practice "sit stays" and "down stays" routinely on our daily walks. The training forces her to remember to focus on me when we're outside, so she isn't distracted by the crowds and people. Plus, you should see people's faces when she starts "waving" at them.

4) Expose the dogs to new people all the time
I think the more people the dogs are exposed to, the easier it is for them to be in crowded situations. We started by having a lot of people over at our house to be able to control the interactions. Then, as we went on more walks, the pooches became accustomed to other strangers coming over and greeting them. This is especially important at crowded places like parades where people act erratically, wear weird costumes, or just come over and grab her.
Again, these are just some thing that work with our dogs. Does anyone else have tips to successfully take your pooch out in crowded areas?

PS. If you haven't already, please check out our raffle to raise funds to restore Shy/Khloe's vision. We are also excited to add another "Everyday Dog" prize from the talented cooking guru Trissi. She has whipped up 2 jars of biscuits (peanutbutter-pumpkin and cheddar) packaged in jars tied with ribbons and including the recipe and cookie cutter used to make the treats.

PPS. Please visit HoundDogMom's blog where she is "collecting comments" and she will donate $1 for each comment received to help Shy/Khloe and two other very deserving dogs. We are so impressed by her generosity, so please stop by her blog to say hi.

15 comments:

Tucker said...

Great tips! I think you're right - the best way to prepare for something like a parade is just to make being in crowds and various situations as routine as possible.

lindsay said...

I love this! we try some of these tips too! we live in the south where people definitely are not used to seeing pit bulls as anything other than beasts on a chain but we are working with ours to make him a wonderful ambassadog......

Two Crazy Coaches said...

Awesome tips!! I love that Miss M's tongue is sticking out in the photo where she is waving. WHat a funny girl!

The Heartbeats said...

Love Miss M! Such a good girl!

mamma heartbeat

Benny and Lily said...

You guys are the best. We love that your pawrents take you to all these cool events. We agree, the more you are exposed to things the better you are in the long run.
Benny & Lily

loveandaleash said...

Miss M blows my mind. We did an inadequate job socializing Chick the first few years, so though he is very well-behaved, he also gets nervous in crowds or when strangers are overly gropy with him. I wonder if we could still turn it around . . .

Kari in WeHo said...

There was a training class we took in Alaska where all we did was meet at crowded places (PetCo, Sportsmans Wearhouse) and practice the basics with large crowds around.

Kari
http://dogisgodinreverse.com

Corbin said...

We always love to see your adventures in such cool situations! We'll go check out HoundDogMom to help Sky!
-Corbin

Kate@TwentySixToLife said...

Wonderful tips. I think most dogs would freak at the sight of that leprechaun so it says a lot that Ms. M tolerated it so well (although that look on her face - priceless!).

houndstooth said...

I think knowing your dog is the most important part. There can always be surprises, but you can minimize the risk. Taking them out a lot helps a great deal, especially if you can do it in increments. Using a harness helps a lot, too.

Miss M looks like a people magnet and then some!

Zona said...

Great tips!! And most impressive stay with that creepy creature so close! Yikes!

Wags,
Zona

bitt said...

I need to work on this more with our newly adopted dog. I took her to a store the other day for the first time and it didn't go well!

parlance said...

Congratulations on the good work you did to familiarise people with well-behaved dogs.

Mary said...

Levi does great in crowds. It's funny because people/scary leprechaun mascots that would scare him in one-on-one scenarios don't faze him in large crowds. Maybe because lots of people usually = food and he's a giant pig. Neptune did okay at the pet parade, but he is definitely not as confident as Levi. We need to take some of your tips and practice with him.

susan said...

Would love to have gone to the St. Pat's parade in Chicago. Love that outfit too :)

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