Wednesday, March 19, 2014

City Dog: On Staying Safe During Crowded City Events

One of the things we love most about living in the city is that there is always so much going on, and we are lucky we have a pair of very social pups who also love going out where all the people are. The pups spend much of their summer filling their social calendar and flitting between festivals, cultural events, and our all-time favorite parade. 
It seems each year the St. Patrick's Day festivities have been growing even bigger. The people we meet are usually amazed to see our dogs acting so calm, and one of the comments we hear from a lot of people is that their dogs would never be able to handle this type of event. We agree that it isn't a situation where all dogs would feel safe and comfortable; there are huge crowds, unpredictable drunk people, and all types of loud noises. 
Taking our pups out to crowded events wasn't something we did suddenly, but it was actually something we built up to that does take extra planning. These are some things we always think about before taking our pups out to crowded events:

Keeping Their World Big:
One of the benefits of living in the city without a backyard is we need to take our dogs on multiple daily walks where they are exposed to a lot of things. Every day when we are out walking our pups are exposed to the unexpected: we walk under the thundering El tracks, we pass different types of places, and are always going somewhere new.
Since the unexpected has become their routine, most situations really don't phase them anymore.

Knowing Your Dog:
We've learned some of the things that make our pups uncomfortable and we know it's important to avoid these things, especially when there are a lot of people around. While Miss M is typically outgoing, she is really scared of cigarettes. We always make sure to advocate for her when people who are smoking try to pet her and we remove her from the situation. We also know Miss M will go straight to kissing people in the face and we work to warn people accordingly. Mr B's big trigger is hearing a dog barking in a parked car; he becomes like Bolt springing up and barking back. Luckily for us, there are seldom dogs behind glass at parades.

Having an Escape Route
A lot of these places can grow crowded very quickly, and things could get dangerous and uncomfortable if our pups were stuck underfoot in a crowd. We work to stay on the fringe and always have a way to walk away from the crowds so the pups won't feel overwhelmed. Some areas of the streets were becoming too crowded, so we found an underground parking garage where we were able to walk through to the other side and avoid the crowd. We also found the parade route itself was too crowded, so we stayed on the edge where the pups were able to meet people downtown for the festivities. 

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bigalrlz said...

Great post as always! Glad the weather was good for you guys :) I appreciate you mentioning advocating for Miss M Re:cigarettes, my son is 2 years old and we have lots of friends that smoke. Most are considerate, but in situations like this, outdoors with lots of people and alcohol, it can be hard to be assertive enough to request people keep their distance or move out of the area without seeming rude. But if you can do it for Miss M, I can do it for my son (and myself!)

JustaGirl said...

I would make a trip to Chicago just in hopes of running into you guys! Love these two!
PS I can't believe people still smoke in this day & age. But sadly they do :(

jet said...

great points, Bender is really sensitive to loud noises... is OK with crowds, but now that he is getting older and having problems with one of his knees we have to be more vigilant - kids here aren't always dog-savvy and on more than one occassion a young child has jumped on him behind to give him a bear hug.... he didn't mind then but I think as his leg bothers him more there's a risk they will hurt him :(

sammi said...

Being able to expose your dogs to many different and potentially frightening situations in order to reduce their anxiety is wonderful, makes for happier dogs and humans. We don't have the opportunity to take our dogs to parades, nothing so exciting happens where we live and our cities are not terribly dog friendly. Miss M and Mr B are fantastic and look extremely adorable dressed up for St Patrick's Day :-)

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