Community sports are a huge part of our local culture and considering 38% of Australian households own dogs it’s not surprising they are often present at matches or training and it’s a great opportunity for you to give your dog an outing. However, in an environment where there are often many many people (most of which are often children), other dogs and lots of loud noises and smells this can be a recipe for disaster. We’ve put together some top tips on what to do when taking your dog with you to weekend sport so that you can all enjoy the day.
Pick up their poo
Rule #1 – pick up #2! Whilst this might seem obvious there is nothing worse than sliding into goal only to find you’ve slid into something else… Make sure you have a poo-bag handy in case your dog chooses an inopportune moment to do their business.
Check dogs are allowed
Some sporting ovals or events may prohibit dogs even on leash so be sure to check with the grounds before attending with your pet. It is also worth checking if the club has a policy on bringing dogs to training or games.
Keep them on a lead
It might be tempting to give your dog a run off-lead whilst watching the match but with the likelihood of other dogs being present this isn’t a good idea. Even if your dog is well behaved others on-lead may not be and this can lead to aggression and injuries. This is one of the most frequent things we witness at games as most owners are doing the responsible thing, but it only takes one off-lead dog to cause a problem. Also consider even the friendliest of dogs may be scary to children so it is best to keep them on lead so you have full control and the other end of the lead should be controlled by an adult, not a child.
Never leave them unattended
Often dogs are tied to a post at matches whilst you run to the toilet or even play yourself. Whilst your dog may be perfectly fine with this you shouldn’t trust everyone else to treat them nicely! Young children may approach them, other dogs may be walked past, or someone may feed them something inappropriate. For this reason, it’s best to keep them with you always or ask someone to hold them whilst you duck to the loo.
Get them involved!
We love nothing better than seeing a dog wearing the team’s colours! Make sure your dog is trained to tolerate the outfit (lots of treats!) and is comfortable moving in it but other than that go for it!
Don’t take anxious dogs
Sporting matches often involve a lot of children and most of these children love the opportunity to run up to a dog and say hello. Whilst many dogs love nothing more than a pat, some may feel really anxious at this invasion of their personal space and could react aggressively (growling or biting). This is their natural reaction to feeling threatened and should not be discouraged. If your dog is not well-socialised or does not like people (or a particular subset of people e.g. kids, men, people wearing hats) busy games might not be the best place to take them and they are likely hating it anyway. If you do take them be sure to communicate clearly with others that they don’t like being touched to avoid injury.
Don’t go crazy on the sausage sizzle
Who doesn’t love a sausage sandwich at the end of a match?! Although tempting, avoid giving your dog sausages as these are one of the leading causes of pancreatitis, a life-threatening disease we see commonly in vet hospitals. Instead take a small handful of doggie treats to give them and better yet use these to reward calm, positive behaviour. We do however recommend buying an extra icy-pole for your four-legged friend in those hotter summer months!