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Is Bringing Your Dog To Festivals a Good Idea? Risks & Tips

Written by: Eleanor Glaum

Last Updated on April 10, 2024 by Dogster Team

a cute dog at a festival

Is Bringing Your Dog To Festivals a Good Idea? Risks & Tips

We love our dogs so much that we want to share every happy experience with them. Many people like to take their dogs with them wherever they go—so that they never miss out on the fun. Their dogs appear to relish the together time and certainly appear to appreciate being included.

Now and then, however, there is cause for consideration. Not all destinations and journeys are dog-friendly. A festival is not your everyday kind of outing for either you or your dog. Festival conditions are different to what may be encountered in regular daily life, and these conditions need to be carefully appraised in terms of their dog-friendliness.

That said, is it OK to take your dog with you to a festival? Well, as you may expect, this is not a simple yes-or-no type of question. The answer depends on several factors that we’ll have a look at in this article. However, in general, if you are not sure how your dog will cope with the festival atmosphere and noise, it is safer to keep your dog at home.

Are Dogs Allowed at Festivals?

The very first matter you need to clear up before you even consider any of the others is whether the event, the venue, or the organizers even permit dogs to attend. There is nothing worse than being keyed up with excitement and anticipation, only to be turned away at the gate due to an oversight.

The full list of festival rules and regulations can usually be found online on the event website. However, if there are no rules regarding the attendance of dogs, don’t assume that that means dogs are allowed. Rather be safe than sorry and assume the opposite. If you’re not satisfied with the provided information, then it’s best to send a personal message to the event organizers or venue requesting clarification.

Service dogs fall into a different category and there will be exceptions made for them. When familiarizing yourself with the festival’s rules and regulations, be sure to understand the difference, and to what the rules apply—namely, pet dogs or service dogs.

dog owner bringing his pet at a festival

Gauging Your Dog’s Personality

Our pooches have very distinct personalities. Some just love lots of people and bustling activity, whilst others shy away from these environments.

No one knows your beloved doggie better than you do, and so you are best positioned to decide which of the above categories it falls into.  Perhaps, like most, it is a little bit of both. If you have a shy, retreating fur child who is happiest alone at home with you, chances are a festival of any kind is going to stress them out. It is wise to respect these kinds of doggie’s personalities and boundaries, and let them stay where they feel safe.

Some dogs are social butterflies, maybe you even own one like that. You know the kind—you go to the beach and, within three minutes, Bingo has introduced himself to the neighboring families sitting around you, and their dogs! These kinds of canines are good candidates for festival attendance, provided you are satisfied that all the other conditions present at the festival will be suitable.

Even if your hound is a social butterfly and shows no signs of aggression towards other dogs or people, it must still be well-disciplined. You need to be able to immediately and reliably recall your dog, when necessary.

If your doggie falls somewhere in between shy and outgoing, as most will, then you must use your discretion and ensure that the particular festival is a good match for you to attend with your fur baby.

What Kind of Festival?

The word, festival, broadly encompasses every kind of lively gathering of people that could exist. There are so many different kinds of festivals ranging from small-scale local markets to massive international music concerts, and everything in between. The events that are found on either end of this scale are hardly even comparable, particularly in terms of how dog-friendly they are.

If your pooch is of the relaxed and gregarious kind, then it will certainly enjoy attending a small local festival with you, provided that dogs are allowed to attend—again, check in with the organisers to make sure.

On the other hand, regardless of your dog’s chilled-out and sociable nature, it is never a good idea to take it along to a large-scale festival where attendees will number in the thousands to tens of thousands. These kinds of festivals are typically characterized by very loud music and manic, bustling crowds of people who are usually not on their best behavior! Not the kind of environment that you want to subject your beloved pup to.

For those festivals that fall somewhere in between these two extremes, you will need to carefully consider the pros and cons and make that judgement call yourself. Factors to consider would be the music volume (loud music can damage a dog’s hearing), excessive alcohol consumption on site, number of attendees, and location or setting.

dog lying on grass at a festival

Indoor Or Outdoor

A festival based indoors in a city center, for example, is not going to be a great destination for your pooch. The indoor/outdoor question may seem too obvious to warrant discussion, but we feel it’s worth a mention. An indoor festival is usually not going to be pooch-friendly, period.

Not only will it be claustrophobic for your dog, but the amplified sounds could be sheer torture for them. It’s necessary to be considerate of the other attendees too. Some folks are not particularly fond of dogs, whilst others may be downright terrified of them, regardless of their size or cuteness.

A final factor to consider regarding indoor events is how your pup relieves itself. They won’t be politely making use of the port-a-potties provided for the event. Nope, they’re going to relieve themelf whenever the need arises, and you’re going to have to clean it up each time. Additionally, some indoor event floor surfaces were never intended to be used as a doggie’s toilet.

Tips for Taking Your Dog to a Festival

If you have weighed out all the pros and cons and found that the pros are the clear winner, then it’s festival time for you and your fur baby! It’s not as simple as jumping in the car and racing off to join in the fun, you need to be prepared. We have put together a short checklist that should make the festival as stress-free and enjoyable for both you and your pooch.

  • Rules: Make sure that the festival’s rules and regulations allow for dogs to attend.
  • Food: Ensure that you pack enough food for the duration of the festival. Don’t forget your pooch’s food bowls and treats!
  • Water: Heat stroke is a real concern. Hydration is very important so make sure you’ve got this covered. Ensure you know ahead of time where the doggie watering points will be and visit them often. If there won’t be any, or they are not easily accessible, consider a mobile water dispenser for your pooch.
  • Poop: Don’t forget to clean up after your fur baby. Have a poop scoop and poop bags with you at all times, and find out where you can dispose of their poop hygienically.
  • Quiet Place: Familiarize yourself with the layout of the festival before or as soon as you arrive. Identify an area(s) where you can take your dog to get away from the hustle and bustle from time to time, and maybe even let it off leash for some free time (if allowed).
  • Identification: If your doggie isn’t microchipped, then don’t forget its collar with a name tag and contact details in case the two of you are separated.
  • Leash: Remember to pack a nice strong leash, and backup leash, with your dog’s harness. It is bound to be part of the festival rules but, irrespective, always keep your pup on a leash for their safety.
  • Patience: Your pup may initially be a bit overwhelmed by the new and busy environment, so be prepared to spend a bit of one-on-one time with them in the beginning, to reassure them and make them feel safe and secure.
  • Hearing Protection: If there is going to be loud music, then it’s a good idea to invest in some hearing protection for your precious pup.
  • Other Dogs: There are going to be plenty of other dogs at a dog-friendly festival, so it’s wise to always be aware of the other dogs around.
  • Back-up Plan: You need to be able to recognize if your dog is stressed and have a backup plan in place if things aren’t working out. Either be prepared to leave early, or have a friend on standby who would be happy to take your doggie home.

Final Thoughts

There are certain situations in which the decision to take your dog with you to the festival is clear-cut. Huge, loud, bustling festivals are a no-no, as well as those held indoors. Your small local festival with low-key entertainment and not-so-thronging crowds gets the thumbs up. For those that fall somewhere in between, taking into consideration the factors we’ve discussed, you should be able to make the correct decision.

If you are still uncertain after reading this article, then the best course will be to err on the side of caution and leave your beloved fur baby at home, where you know they will be safe.

Featured Image Credit: Andrew Angelov, Shutterstock

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