Wednesday, March 21, 2012

City Dog: How to Have a Good Time at the Parade with Your Dog

 Besides hearing "Is that a camera?" and "How does he get his hat to stay on?", the other biggest question people always have is how our pooches are so well-behaved despite all the chaos around them. St. Patrick's day is always crazy in Chicago. This year the holiday being on a weekend, coupled with insane 80 degree weather,  had a lot of people out, many who were very excited to meet the pooches:
Luckily we've done a lot of work with our dogs where big noises and crowds don't phase them. Last year we wrote this post about "How to Prepare to take your Dog to a Parade" detailing some of the steps we took to prepare them. Since we learned some new things this year, here are some tips about what to anticipate when bringing your dog to a parade.

Anticipate Triggers and Advocate for your Dog:
 Parades are filled with all kinds of scary noises, people acting erratically, and food on the ground. Miss M is a very confident, but she has a strange fear of cigarettes, fiddles and bagpipes. When someone approaches us, I make sure to have her step back and explain to the people that these things scare her. Mr. B was happy to step in and take a photo with the bagpipers, and luckily, these are things we only see once a year.
We also know there will be a lot of drunk and really excited people who will just make a grab for our dogs. We always make sure to act in the best interests of our dogs, so if our dogs seem uncomfortable we don't hesitate from asking people not to grab at them, and we show them the proper greeting of putting your hand out, backwards, so our pooches will give them kisses.

Be Prepared: 
 We make sure to bring extra supplies for the pooches and even have a pooch specific bag. They tend to get worked up from all the excitement, so we make sure to bring a collapsible bowl and water, a bandana we can dip in water if they get hot, sunscreen, extra poo bags, hand sanitizer and a sarong for us to sit on. Though from the photo above you'd guess Mr. B is drinking green beer.

Practice Wearing Costumes:
 We know if dogs are already nervous or uncomfortable wearing a costume will just compound that. We've always been mindful of the gear our dogs wear, and we're careful to introduce it slowly with positive associations in our house. Luckily our pooches have become more accustomed to wearing things, but here's an earlier post we wrote about dressing your dog for parades.
 For more photos of the dogs at the parade, plus a video taken from Mr. B's point-of-view, be sure to check this post.

 These are things that work for us. Does anyone else have any advice for successfully bringing your dog into a large crowd?


HoundDogMom said...

Your pooches are so awesome in crowds. We have started Bella with small crowds, we have found she is very afraid of cigs as well. She sees one and her tail tucks between her legs and she becomes more nervous. Again, we wish we were closer so we could join in on socialbulls walks because we know that would help our Winston out and maybe help Amiee not be a chicken-butt. Have a Great Day! Sniffs, The HoundDogs

Two Grad Students and a Pittie said...

We thought it was very important to get Havi used to all of the city sounds. We live next to a helicopter landing pad as well as the only highway in the city, so sounds are nothing new to her. Usually shell walk by a parade like its nothing. However, people tend to want to smother her. So we try to bend down and explain to people how to say hi. Also, this way Havi knows were right there.

Millie and Walter said...

I love your posts about the dogs at city events. Yesterdays video was fantastic. I watched it a few times. Thanks for sharing.


Two Kitties One Pittie said...

This is so great. As I said yesterday, I'd LOVE to take Zoe to the Pride Parade (with a pink tutu, obviously). So I need to get started on these tips so I can make that happen!!!

Sarah said...

Cigarettes, fiddles and bagpipes, eh? Miss M has a rather interesting collection of fears. Is she OK with guitars or violins? Or sitars or cellos? I think Miss M's weird fears need a blog post of their very own!

Kiira said...

These are great tips. Your pooches are quite amazing for braving one of the craziest weekends in Chicago!
I especially like the reminder about acclimating Miss M and Mr B to their gear in a safe place with positive associations. I made the mistake, not long ago, of rushing to use Monkey's new backpack, and instead of being calm and focused on our walk, he was unusually snarky and irritated. He now willingly accepts the backpack after some counter-conditioning, but I still play it safe with him and tend to throw the backpack on Petey instead, who is oblivious to things strapped to his body.

Emily said...

Our pups do well in crowds with lots of sounds and distractions but we figured out one thing they don't react well to-- policemen on horses. Of course it's just the horses themselves that cause the reaction. Embarrassing parent moments are sure to ensue if we encounter horses on our outing.
Mr. B & Miss M, ever the role models!

Felicity said...

Dear Miss M,
I too have a fear of bagpipes. I think it is a perfectly natural fear. They produce an horrific noise.

Two French Bulldogs said...

your hats are killer!!
Benny & Lily

Anonymous said...

I love these two in their costume and I love what you guys are doing! We have an English Bull Terrier who we didn't rescue, but knew from the start that we wanted him to be a Bully ambassador. We started him out in Pittsburgh's Southside, which is nothing but bars and clubs swarming with drunken college kids. When he was 9 weeks old, we carried him around down there and let him get loved up by the crazy drunkards. We continued to do this every weekend and as he grew up, he began to walk through the crowds down there like it was nothing. Although Pittsburgh is obviously smaller than Chicago, our crowds are always extremely compact because of how tight our streets are, so we are very proud of how well he does in those situations. He goes to all the Steelers' parades, the New Years parades, fourth of July events, and just this past weekend he braved our crazy St. Patty's parade (ours is the second biggest in the U.S.-- packed!). He was such a good boy. It was unseasonably hot here, too so he even plopped down in the middle of the crowd!

We love Miss M and Mr. B! I check your blog every morning to see them. The first time I saw your blog was the day that you posted the pictures of them in the hats and talked about how dressing them up makes them more approachable. You guys have been bookmarked ever since then! We do the exact same thing with our boy! We love to see other people working toward the same cause as us, and with such fabulous dogs!

- Rae & Archie the Bull Terrier

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