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Last weekend, I went to a neighborhood summer festival in Portland and met dog after dog. From a giant Labradoodle to a tiny Chihuahua, every kind of canine was represented. Some dogs looked like they were loving the crowd, but a few of them probably would have been happier at home.

Nothing says “summer fun” like an outdoor event, and when they’re dog-friendly, even better! But how can you take your dog to an outdoor festival and make sure you both have a good time?

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From farmer’s markets to block party concerts, we have tips to enjoy outdoor festivals with your four-legged best friend.

1. Make sure the festival is dog-friendly

First things first: don’t take your dog to a festival unless you know for a fact dogs are allowed. Large, multi-day concert events like Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza have a strict no-pet policy (excluding service dogs).

What if you can’t tell if a festival is dog-friendly or not? As much as we hate to say it, when in doubt, leave your dog at home. You don’t want to show up at a festival only to be turned away at the entrance, or put your dog in a potentially dangerous environment.

In general, small local festivals are more likely to welcome dogs. Think hyper-local: block parties and farmer’s markets have a festival vibe without the enormous crowds. Check your local newspaper or city website for options, and don’t be afraid to call or email organizers to ask about bringing your dog.

Another bonus of local festivals is that they’re, well, local! If your dog decides she’s had enough festing for the day, you can simply take her home.

2. Make sure your dog is festival-friendly

Not every dog can handle an outdoor festival. My pups are too old, cranky, and nervous to enjoy being outdoors around lots of people. Some dogs just don’t like crowds, and some crowds aren’t welcoming to dogs.

Here are some traits of a dog who can go to an outdoor festival:

  • Well-socialized with other dogs (you’re bound to see some at the fest)
  • Gets along with all types of people, including kids and unpredictable adults (outdoor festivals tend to include some intoxicated guests)
  • Comfortable in noisy environments
  • Good leash manners and recall

Before you take your dog to an outdoor festival, brush up on basic training to ensure she behaves safely in a crowd. You should also make sure her microchip and collar tags have up-to-date contact information just in case.

3. Prep for hot weather

Let’s state the obvious: summer is hot! Once you’re at a dog-friendly festival with your dog, it’s important to keep her cool. Follow general summer safety tips: stay cool, stay hydrated, and watch your dog for signs of heat stroke.

Pack these dog summer essentials in your festival bag:

In addition to being prepared for hot weather, watch your dog for signs of overheating. If you feel hot in your summer festival clothes, imagine how hot your dog feels in their fur coat.

Be prepared to take off early if the temperature gets too high.

4. Noise control

If you’re headed to the neighborhood block party with your dog, prepare for a noisy crowd and loud music. You don’t have to leave your dog at home to rock out, just keep her comfortable.

Some tips for enjoying an outdoor concert with your dog:

  • Stand far back from the speakers
  • Look for a shady spot where you can stand and see the stage, and your dog can lay down and take a break
  • Stay out of the mosh pit. There’s more room for dancing at the back of the crowd, anyhow!

You can also invest in a pair of MuttMuffs noise-reduction headphones. These noise-reducing ear muffs are designed especially to fit the curves of a dog’s head. You might want to try them on at home, first, to help your dog get used to wearing them. But they’re a great tool to make sure your dog enjoys the show as much as you do.

5. Have fun (but don’t push it)

Whether you’re hitting a big beach party or the farmer’s market down the street, outdoor festivals are a great way to enjoy summer with your dog. But your dog might not have the same stamina as you do. Remember to stick to your dog’s schedule. If they always eat dinner at 7pm, they’ll need to eat dinner at the festival at 7pm, too! Take their food with you, or plan to get home by dinner time.

When your dog looks like they’ve had enough for the day, it’s time to hit the road. Think of it this way: leaving the festival early means you’ll have more energy to enjoy the next beautiful summer day.

Preview image via flickr/kathmandu

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