How to take your dog on a picnic
Celebrate the summer with your dog - without any stolen sandwiches!
For many dog owners, alfresco dining can pose quite the challenge, testing even the politest pooch’s petiquette.
However, by guiding your dog to make good choices (and rewarding them when they do), your four-legged friend is far more likely to repeat these positive behaviours in the future. This will help to ensure that all days out are fun and stress-free for both of you.
Here are some of our top dog training tips to help you have a happy picnic with your pooch.
1. Lead the way
Popping your dog on a lead while you sit down to have your picnic is a great way of making sure they stay safe and secure, while still being able to move about comfortably. If you’re happy with them roaming a little further away, consider buying a long training lead, harness, and a stake. That way, you can tether your dog and allow them to enjoy good sniffs nearby.
2. Settle down
Picnics are full of exciting sights and smells, so it’s no wonder 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 pooch can learn as it will help them to feel relaxed and calm in all sorts of distracting situations.
3. Bring some games
Help 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 and freshly filled Kong to a snuffle mat scattered with tasty treats.
After you’ve planned your own picnic menu, think about your dog’s Kong recipe. Why not try filling it with their regular dog food and then seal the end with something delicious like peanut butter or squeezy cheese? You could also freeze their Kong in advance, making it an enduring and refreshing treat, perfect for a warm day!
4. Stay hydrated
Wherever you go for your picnic, always make sure you bring plenty of fresh water and a bowl for your pooch. Do keep an eye on your dog’s water intake throughout the day to ensure they stay hydrated, and always have water they can easily access. If your picnic is at the beach, don’t let your dog drink sea water as the salt can upset their stomach.
5. Keep 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.
You could also invest in a pop-up sun protection tent (available from most baby gear shops) to provide a shady spot for your pooch. Dogs lose heat by panting, so it's essential that your dog is able to open their mouth to cool down. If you usually use a muzzle, make sure it's the open 'basket' type. Above all, never leave your dog alone in a parked car, as even just a few minutes in a hot car can be fatal.
For more advice, read our guidance on how to keep your dog comfortable in the heat.
6. Make space for others (and your dog)
For many of us, our dogs’ friendly personalities are one of the things we love most about them. However, it’s important to remember that not everyone is as comfortable with our pooches as we are. Take time to teach your dog how to greet others politely or keep them close by to give other picknickers room to relax.
There are also times when other people can be too full-on with our dogs. So, 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.
7. 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.
If you’d like more training or support, check out our Dog School classes, expertly designed to help you and your pooch understand each other even better.