How to take your dog on a picnic

Here are some of our top dog training tips to help you have a happy picnic with your pooch.

Adult trailhound, outside, sticking tongue out.

For many dog owners, alfresco dining can pose quite the challenge, testing even the politest pooch’s petiquette. But never fear, fun and stress-free picnics can be made possible by following our seven top tips. 

Create a happy and pleasant summer experience for both you and your dog – without any stolen sandwiches!

Tip one: Keep your dog safe on a lead while you’re eating 

Putting your dog on a lead while you sit down to have your picnic is a good idea. They will still have some freedom to sniff around the area, but you can keep an eye on them to make sure they’re safe and relaxed. 

Make sure your dog can’t reach or eat any foods that could be toxic for them, like chocolate, onions, grapes or raisins.

Tip two: Teach them to settle  

Picnics are full of exciting sights and smells, so it’s no wonder that our four-legged friends get excited at the first sniff of a sausage roll. With so much going on, it can be helpful to spend some time beforehand teaching your dog how to settle. 

Settling is one of the most useful things your dog can learn as it will teach them how to relax and give them a sense of security and consistency in all sorts of distracting situations. 

How to train your dog to be calm, relax and settle

Help them get used to quiet time by themselves

Tip three: Bring some games   

Keep your dog busy and entertained while you eat by bringing along a fun activity or long-lasting treat for them to enjoy.

This could be anything from an exciting puzzle feeder or freshly filled slow feeder to a snuffle mat scattered with tasty treats.   

Why not try filling a slow-feeding toy with their regular dog food and then sealing the end with something delicious like peanut butter (make sure it’s xylitol-free) or squeezy cheese?

You could also freeze it in advance. This will be refreshing in warm weather and will also take more time to eat, so will hold your dog’s attention for longer.   

Dog-friendly summer snack recipes

Three simple summer treats for your dog

How to make a snuffle mat for your dog

This fun activity is easy and cheap to make. It’ll keep your dog content while they sniff out the hidden treats.

Tip four: Keep your dog hydrated    

Wherever you go for your picnic, always bring plenty of fresh water and a bowl for your dog. Make sure your dog has easy access to their water and keep an eye on their drinking throughout the day to ensure they stay hydrated.

If your picnic is at the beach, don’t let your dog drink sea water – the salt can upset their stomach and consuming large amounts can even be fatal. 

Tip five: Keep your dog cool   

Always make sure you can keep your dog cool, as they can quickly get heatstroke in warm conditions, which can be fatal. 

  • If you know the temperature is set to soar, plan your trip early in the morning or late evening, to avoid the heat of the day. 
  • Never leave your dog alone in a parked car. Even a few minutes in a hot car can be fatal for a dog. 
  • You could buy a pop-up sun protection tent (baby beach tents are perfect) to provide a shady spot for your dog.  
  • Dogs lose heat by panting, so it's essential that your dog can open their mouth to cool down. If you usually use a muzzle, make sure it's the open 'basket' type.  

For more advice, read our guidance on how to keep your dog comfortable in the heat. 

Tip six: Consider everyone’s needs 

We love spending time with our dogs, but it’s important to remember that not everyone is comfortable around them. Teach your dog how to greet other people and dogs politely and keep them near you so that other picnic guests have room to relax. 

When you’re passing other picnics, keep your dog under control – floor-level snacks may be tempting! 

Of course, this consideration goes both ways. There are times when other people can be too full-on with our dogs. Keep an eye on your four-legged friend’s body language and be prepared to ask others to give them space if they need it. 

How to train your dog not to jump up

Follow our guide to help your pooch keep their paws on the floor.

Tip seven: Have fun! 

We hope you and your faithful friend have a fantastic day out, full of picnic games and tasty treats. We can’t think of a better way to spend the day. 

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