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You and your dog love having adventures together. Including your dog in your daily life can be great for maintaining his socialization skills, but the fact is, many gatherings aren’t a fit for all pups. Some dogs are happy and confident no matter the environment, while others skew more cautious and prefer to avoid crowds of people or unfamiliar situations. To add to the potential problem, you might be too engrossed in your own good time to recognize if your dog isn’t sharing your enthusiasm for the event. As your dog’s advocate, it’s up to you to consider what types of situations are appropriate for him, and which he should skip. The following list of events can be surprisingly challenging to many dogs.

1. Parade

Everybody loves the excitement of a hometown parade. The crowd standing shoulder-to-shoulder on the sidewalk, the roar of the fire truck passing by, the unidentified flying objects being thrown from floats, the beating drums of the high school band…at times there’s so much going on, you don’t know what to focus on. Now take a step back and imagine how all of that sensory input feels for your dog. The sights and sounds at a typical parade can be overwhelming for many dogs, and because everyone is usually fixated with what’s happening on the street, a dog in distress can easily go unnoticed. The noise, crowds, and excitement in the air can be scary for your dog. Add hot pavement and little shade to the equation, and you’ve got a recipe for a canine bummer.

2. Children’s Sporting Event

Got an all-day soccer match? There’s a good chance your dog would rather skip it. While some dogs are happy to hang out for hours while their human siblings hit the field, for others the noise, the frenetic activity, and friendly strangers at youth sporting events equals information overload. Many new pet parents think it’s a good idea to bring their puppy to their children’s games for a quick injection of socialization. However, puppies attract people, and groups of well-meaning but potentially overwhelming children might worry your pup. Appropriate socialization is easily controlled and allows the dog to set the pace. Situations where dogs are forced to deal with whatever the mob doles out can be stressful and do more harm than good.

3. House Party

Your buddy is having a get together and both you and your dog are invited. Taking your dog to a party might seem like a fun way to add to the celebration, but keep in mind that bringing your dog changes your focus. Pet parents at parties might be surprised to discover that the event becomes an exercise in dog management rather than a good time. Is the party indoors? You’ll have to ensure that your dog doesn’t have an accident (even perfectly potty trained dogs can have slip-ups in new environments). Is it outside? You’ll have to make sure that the gates stay closed to prevent accidental escapes. Will there be kids present? Think about whether your dog is appropriate with small humans who might not know the right way to interact with dogs. Will you be staying into the wee hours? Your dog might get stressed out in the unfamiliar environment with no place to rest. And let’s not forget about how pushy people can be when you add alcohol into the mix. Unless the party is specifically designated for pups, it’s probably best to leave yours at home.

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