Fido at the festival: Calgary vet offers 5 questions to ask before taking your dog into a crowd

Outdoor markets and street festivals are fun for the whole family, except maybe your pets.

Wendy McClelland says owners need to consider their pooch's personality before hitting festivities

Calgary veterinarian Dr. Wendy McClelland says smaller pets at festivals run the risk of getting underfoot and would be safer off the ground in pet strollers or purses. (Jens Meyer/The Associated Press)

No summer in Calgary would be complete without hitting up one of the many street festivals or outdoor markets in the city.​

And while these family-friendly events are good opportunities for the whole brood to get in some quality time, are they really right for every member of the family?

One expert says sometimes it's best to leave the dog at home.

"The way I think about it, it's just like people — some people are introverts, some are extroverts," Calgary veterinarian Wendy McClelland told the Calgary Eyeopener.

"If you've got that dog that's a little more timid and a little more shy, it's maybe not the best place to get him to be more outgoing. You might want to start more slowly where it's not quite a shock," she said. 

5 festival-ready questions

McClelland says things like pulling back on their leash, wide eyes, tucked tails and drooped ears are signs your dog is not in the festival spirit and likely should be removed from the crowd.

"If you go and you're kind of pulling on them or they're pulling back and they're looking really apprehensive, it's maybe time to think about, 'well, maybe we should not do this festival and do a more gradual work up,'" she said.

McClelland created a list of five questions for pet owners to help determine if Fido is festival-ready:

1. Is your dog sized for safety?

Smaller dogs can easily get underfoot, putting festival goers at risk of tripping and injuring the dog or themselves. McClelland suggests smaller-sized dogs should be off the ground in a doggie stroller or even a purse for their own safety and the safety of others.

2. Does your dog have a suitable temperament?

Some dogs can be aggressive with other dogs, or unsure, some can be more aggressive when they are on-leash. You want to make sure they get along well with every kind of dog and every kind of person, McClelland says, because there is going to be children there and a lot of loud and unexpected noises. 

3. Are your pets vaccinated?

Up-to-date vaccination is most important for younger dogs. Calgary experienced a significant outbreak of parvovirus this year, so it's important pet owners don't take young dogs to festivals unless they have had all their shots. 

4. Is your dog healthy enough for a festival?

Older dogs with mobility issues or other health problems can have a hard time being outside in the sun on hot pavement all day. Old-timers are best left at home if long days wear them out.

5. Is your dog wearing identification tags/has a microchip?

Festival noise is unpredictable and dogs can be spooked by unexpected, loud noises causing them to get away from you. If they have proper ID and a microchip, pets are more easily identifiable and are more likely to be returned quickly.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener