Taking your dog for a picnic in the countryside or to a park is something many dog owners have on their to-do list this summer, as Covid restrictions ease and many of us are looking forwards to being able to spend time with friends and family without limitations once more.
However, it is important to know how to have a dog-safe picnic and what potential hazards can arise before you go, to keep your dog safe and happy and avoid any problems.
This article will provide eight tips on how to have a dog-safe picnic that the whole family will enjoy. Read on to learn more.
For many of us, when we think of a picnic we think of a blanket on the ground. However, sitting on the ground to eat with food lain out in front of you will make it easy pickings for your dog if they’re opportunistic or can’t be trusted. This can make your dog hard to control, as well as being frustrating for them.
A picnic on a park bench or pop-up table will be safer and easier to manage.
Picnic food tends to be a spread of many different types of things rather than a large meal, and this means we tend to put things out of the way when we’ve eaten enough or want something else, as well as potentially leaving half-full containers and unfinished plates to the side to deal with when we’ve finished.
Eating in this fashion is what makes a picnic, but it can also make it harder to keep track of food; by the people present anyway, as your dog is highly unlikely to miss anything, and therein lies the problem!
If you put an unfinished plate to one side, your dog might stand a chance of helping themselves, so make sure someone keeps track of all food and food waste, particularly anything that children may leave around.
When we’ve put food waste in a bin, we tend to stop seeing it as food because we would of course not eat it now. Your dog doesn’t think of it in the same way though, and many dog’s idea of peak goals would be having free run to pick through a bin and eat anything they fancy from it.
This means you need to monitor the bin when food is in it just as you wound monitor food. For instance, if you’re using a bag for rubbish, don’t put this under the picnic table at dog height!
There are all sorts of things that can pose a hazard to a dog on a picnic peripheral to the food itself, like the aforementioned half-finished plates of things, and also cocktail sticks and skewers that will still smell tasty to dogs even when the food they held was gone.
Even discarded corn cobs can be a choking hazard to dogs; dispose of things like this with care and make sure they’re not just dropped on the floor or left out.
You should take water along for your dog anytime you go out in the summer, and at your picnic, ensure they have their bowl to hand with clean water in it at all times. You might want to feed your dog too if your picnic intersects with their normal mealtimes; and if not, take them a chew or something to concentrate on while you eat.
Make sure your dog is secured or at least has someone keeping a proper eye on them while you’re having your picnic; don’t just let them wander off, as they may get lost, end up finding another family and rampaging through their picnic, or even happen across livestock if you’re in a rural area.
If you have children on your picnic and they meet other children when out to play with, be careful about how your dog will react to this. Some dogs are fantastic with children they don’t know, but others are not; plus, you don’t know the children in question or how they will behave around or treat your dog.
Finally, bear in mind the possibility that other dogs might, in some cases, be out loose in the area you would be picnicking in, and many dogs will home in on your food and come straight over hoping to beg or steal a treat before their owner can recall them.
While it is not your responsibility to control or mitigate the behaviour of someone else’s dog, remember that your own dog may behave defensively (even if they’re usually really friendly) if another dog gets too close to their resources, being in this case, the picnic food.