Dogs Trust

Teaching your dog proper picnic etiquette

Celebrate the summer with your dog - without any stolen sandwiches!

Rosie from Dogs Trust Shoreham enjoying a picnic with her Canine Carers

Eating alfresco can be a tricky situation for some dog owners but with a few training tricks and following our advice your dog will be picnic ready in no time.

Getting outside into the world and enjoying all the wonderful sights and smells it has to offer is as fun for us as it is our dogs, so it's also a perfect way to spend some quality time with your pooch.

An important part of being a responsible dog owner is teaching your furry friends how to behave in public. We should be guiding our dogs into making good choices and then rewarding these, so our dogs are very likely to repeat these behaviours in future.

How to have a successful picnic with your dog:

  • Keep them on the lead or consider buying a very long training lead, a harness and a stake so you can tether your dog and allow them to roam.
  • Eating outside is such a pleasure but ensure they are well trained in advance and know not to beg or scavenge for food and know how to settle.
  • To help keep your dog occupied, bring along an activity to keep them occupied when you are eating. You could bring a snuffle mat fully tasty treats scattered within its tendrils. Here's how to make a snuffle mat. Pack your dog's Kong or another long-lasting feeder. Fill it with their regular dog food, remembering to seal the end with something squishy and yummy. Peanut butter or squeezy cheese make excellent Kong sealants. Top tip: a frozen Kong makes a super long-lasting, refreshing treat on a hot day.
  • Always bring fresh water and a bowl with you. If you are going for a picnic at the beach, don't let your dog drink sea water, as this can cause an upset stomach from all the salt. Keep an eye on your dog's overall consumption of water too (both fresh and sea) as excessive amounts can cause problems and in extreme cases, drowning.
  • Dogs can be wonderfully social and other picnicers may want to say hello so it’s always helpful to teach your dog to do this politely. But be prepared to ask people to leave your dog alone when needed.
  • Make sure you can keep your dog cool, as they can rapidly get heatstroke in any warm conditions, which can be fatal. If you know the temperature is set to soar make sure you plan your trip early in the morning to avoid overheating as dogs can get heatstroke. You could also invest in a pop-up sun protection tent, available from most baby gear shops. Above all, NEVER leave your dog alone in a parked car. Even just a few minutes in a hot car can be fatal.
  • Dogs lose heat by panting, so it's essential that your dog is able to open their mouth. If you usually use a muzzle on, make sure it's the open 'basket' type muzzle.
Dog School Coach with a dog

Get picnic ready

Sign up to Dogs Trust's Dog School classes to help get your dog's picnic manners up to scratch or if you can't get to a class then check out our easy to follow training videos. Our experienced trainers provide high quality, welfare friendly advice on dog training and behaviour during our fun, educational classes. A course costs just £55 for 5 classes and an introductory session.

Find your nearest Dog School