Now in year three, Dogstival has become well-established as a four-legged festival with the cool-factor, with our doggy devotees flocking back to the New Forest year after year for two days of hound-o-nistic fun!!
But for those new to mixing with their fellow dog-kind on a grand scale, socialising with lots of other dogs at a time isn’t something you get taught at puppy school. To help first-timers make the most of their ‘Glasto with a bark’ experience, we share our ten top tips to make it your dog’s best day EVER!
- Step up socialisation. Particularly relevant for pandemic puppies, whose general life experience has been compromised by lockdown, it's important you do all you can to ensure they will be comfortable with the sights, sounds, smells, surprises and bodies they will encounter at Dogstival. Try walks in busier parks and trails than they are used to up their pets and people familiarity, visit dog-friendly venues, go for drives in the car – anything you can do to get them used to the busier outside.
- Pack their essentials. Dogs must be on their lead at all times at Dogstival, so a collar/harness and lead are a must, as well as poop bags, travel bowl/pet bottle and fresh water. If there’s a threat of showers or the temperate is lower than hoped, a doggy jumper or coat will avoid fun being dampened by the cold. If it's forecast to be warm, a cooling coat and specialist dog sunscreen for sensitive and exposed areas like nose and ears is advised. For golden oldies, a pet stroller or dog carriers will offer a place to rest while still enjoying the four-legged party.
- Prep for safe travels. If travelling from further afield, avoid feeding just before you leave as they will only need to ‘go’ soon after and it can also cause travel sickness. A short walk prior to departure is advised to avoid a restless journey. In the car, use a seatbelt harness, suitable carrier or crate to stop your dog moving about and protected in an emergency. Offer regular stops for comfort breaks and provide water. If it’s warm, ensure the car is ventilated or the AC is on to keep your dog cool.
- Be a responsible pet owner (and person). Remember dogs ‘on lead’ is compulsory and your dog must be in your sights and reach at all times - never leave them unattended. Always clean up their business and dispose appropriately. If your dog is being especially enthusiastic about meeting another dog, assess if their affections are being matched. If not and their intended looks stressed or agitated, walk away!
Consider the wellbeing of your fellow humans too. Dogstival will have all the new normal ‘Covid Safety’ elements in place such as robust cleaning crews and multiple hand sanitiser stations, so please to use frequently throughout the day. Plus, seasoned Dogstival-goers will know that there is acres of space for social distancing at the end of your dog’s lead but at times, queues or small crowds may build up, particularly at some of the more popular activities and demos. Should you find yourself in one of those queues, remember to observe social distancing as you wait for dog to experience their next round of canine capers!
- Don't force the fun and offer time to chill. Dogstival has untold things for your dog to try, eat, watch, do, sniff and more but if they look like there aren't enjoying something or someone, don't force it. Bad experiences stick, so gentle encouragement or avoiding altogether in the future is always advised. It’s also important to build pit stops into your Dogstival day, so your dog can hydrate, chill and cool off.
- Try something new. Dogstival is the perfect opportunity to up your dog’s playtime game with a host of have-a-go activities. New for 2021 is BARKOUR - Dogstival’s twist on Parkour, offering an adventure playground that will put dogs and owners through their paces. Experiment with a future joint hobby such as canicross (cross country running with dogs), flyball, agility and fun scent demo challenges, and for dogs that love their fun in water, dogs can launch themselves into the giant K9 dog diving pool.
- Learn something new. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? Vet Dr Scott Miller will lead the pack on the Dog House Stage with health tips. This year’s Dog House Behaviour Stage will have a big focus on puppies and first-time dog owners, and dog training and behaviourist Natalie Light will offer a more intimate and personalised insight into common behaviour issues, along with tips on potential fixes The Behaviourist Lounge. For canine nutrition insight, head to the live canine cooking stage.
- Eat something lip-smackingly good! Dogstival is a smorgasbord of delicious treats Dogstival, serving up everything from pupcakes, meat treats, fishy treats, biscuits, ice-cream to doggy drinks - there’s even a Pupuccino Bar. Humans can tuck in and drink up at a wealth of locally sourced food and drink suppliers offering everything from wood-fired pizza to craft gin. Please ‘treat responsibly’ as overindulging your dog might upset their tummy or make them sick - take home excess treats in a doggy bag.
- Go on a shopping spree. With more than 140 independent stalls selling every doggy delicacy or bit of kit imaginable, Dogstival is a brilliant place to discover new brands, size up, get advice and treat your dog to something new for their pawdrobe or lifestyle. For lockdown puppies, who are now fully grown and out of their chewy phase, it's also the perfect time to upgrade their wares.
- Strike a pose. As ever, Dogstival will be packed with epic photo props and opportunities to capture the day on camera and get snap after snap to share on your social. So, fluff up that fur, don your doggy finest and get ready to flex those ear tilts, sits and cute doggy poses.
WE CAN'T WAIT TO SEE YOU ALL AT THIS YEAR'S EVENT 🐾🙌