Have you ever wanted to bring your dog to a pet expo or vendor fair?
Visiting a pet expo is a great (and, often, free) way to check out new pet products and pet businesses in your area, meet rescues, learn some training tricks, take advantage of low-cost immunizations and microchipping, and hang out with fellow pet lovers.
And most are dog-friendly. Dogs may love–or hate–attending often-crowded pet expos and festivals.
Whether you decide to take your dog along with you to a pet expo or not depends on your goals for the event (since, if you’re visiting for microchipping, you’ll definitely need your dog with you) as well as your dog himself.
Before you make your decision as to whether your dog should attend (or stay home while you go to the event and shop for a surprise for him!), we’ve got some tips for you.
Here are our tips based on many hours of watching the comings and goings of hundreds of dogs at past events where we’ve manned our YUCKY PUPPY booth.
Be honest about your dog’s temperament.
Only dogs that are well-socialized around other people and pets should head to pet expos. Plan on crowds and for your dog to have to pass directly alongside other dogs in the aisles at busy expos. Be sure you know how your dog will handle the presence of other dogs before you go.
Before you go any further, ask yourself if you really should bring your dog to the event. Would your dog enjoy the atmosphere?
Shy dogs will not like expos and large events.
Also, if your dog is at all reactive–including reactivity that’s caused by fear around other dogs or in new situations–then expos are not the place to take your pooch.
Leave your dog at home to enjoy a good nap, head off to the expo and have a good time without him, and buy him a goodie to surprise him on your return. You’ll both be happier!
Bring your dog’s immunization records.
You’ll need to show proof of immunization when you and your dog arrive at an expo so have those ready.
Smaller fairs, like one I recently took Barli to, won’t require records but city ordinances may require a current rabies tag on your dog’s collar.
Arrive early or late.
The first and last few hours of an event are the least crowded in terms of both people and dogs.
Scoop the poop!
Bring poop bags and use them; if your dog has an accident, please alert someone so the area can be further sanitized. Expos have cleanup crews patrolling the area to look for messes.
If your dog marks an expo stand, please say something to the vendor so he can clean it up. (We always have a cleanup kit at our booth!)
When we’re attending an expo or any event (or even going to a store), we carry a few paper towels folded up along with poop bags and hand cleaner (which works great to sanitize a spot after a doggie accident).
We put it all in our YUCKY PUPPY poop bag carrier; the machine washable bag can also be used for full poop bags on trail walks where you may be nowhere near a trash can.
Bring a water bowl.
The excitement of the expo is going to make your dog thirsty; we recommend bringing your own popup water bowl for your dog’s water (especially if your dog is a senior or has any health issues).
You don’t want to drink after everyone attending the event…your dog doesn’t either.
Bring a fixed leash.
You’ll need your dog at your side during a pet expo or show.
In the crowded aisles, a fixed leash is a necessity–and it’s required at most shows.
Retractable leashes present a risk to other dogs and people (as well as the many exhibits…just imagine your dog racing beneath a table, getting wrapped around the table leg, and bringing the entire thing down.)
We use a four-foot-long leash when we take our dogs to expos; don’t bring anything longer than six feet.
Consider a stroller for small dogs.
We’ve seen a lot of strollers–as well as backpacks and slings–being used at events for the small dogs.
If your dog could easily get underfoot and be injured, consider carrying your dog or using a dog stroller at large events.
If your dog encounters another dog and things seem a little bit tense, don’t stop.
Can’t get down a busy aisle? Turn around and go back the other way.
You can always come back to check out that row later. Your dog will be a lot less tense if the two of you are moving.
More Tips from Pet Expos
Recently we received some great tips from Amazing Pet Expos (they have pet expos all over the country) about how to make your dog’s visit to an event as successful as it can be.
These tips for attending one of their Pet Expos are helpful for attending dog-centric events of all types:
- Only bring your pet along if it is well-behaved, non-aggressive and doesn’t get stressed out in crowded, stimulating and noisy situations. There are all kinds of other animals, small children, wheelchairs and lots of people at the event. Your pet will be exposed to dogs barking, people speaking loudly on microphones, crowds clapping and attendees cheering. You know your pet best, so please use your best judgment to make sure that your pet will enjoy the expo just as much as you will.
- We only have a few rules for bringing pets: Your pet must be current on all shots or you should plan to have your pet’s immunizations updated at the event; low-cost vaccinations and microchipping are offered on-site. The immunization requirement only applies to dogs, cats and ferrets. A rabies tag is acceptable as proof of immunization, as are blood titer results for those pet owners who don’t immunize annually. Dogs must be on a fixed lead or a locked retractable lead, no longer than 6 feet, at all times. You’ll be required to sign a pet waiver at the entrance.
- Take note of the pet-potty areas located both indoors and out. While we do have pet clean-up teams at the event, you’ll also be given bags for your pet’s waste pick-up when you enter. Please be kind and pick up after your pet.
- Pet water stations be will scattered throughout the expo so that your excited companion doesn’t get dehydrated. These are communal bowls, so if you have a puppy, please keep it safe and bring a travel or disposable bowl for their use.
- Pace yourself! It’s a long day and there are many things to see. Make sure you take periodic breaks and give your pet a chance to rest – or step out of the expo for a few moments of quiet – if you plan to stay all day.
- Many exhibitors offer some sort of treat for pets. If your pet has a sensitive stomach or is super excited, you may want to consider allowing your pet one or two treats and then allowing her/him to enjoy the rest at home.
- If you have a small or tiny dog, you may want to be prepared to either carry it or have a stroller available. There are so many large and super large dogs at the expos that some small pet owners feel overwhelmed and their little fur-babies may unintentionally get stepped on.
- If you are attending the expo with the intent of adopting a new family member, you may want to either bring a crate or some sort of car restraint with you or be prepared to purchase something along those lines at the show. We often have people ask us at the show if we have any boxes or crates that they can have/borrow. We don’t and cage/pet carriers may sell out. So either bring one with you or plan to arrive extra early so that you can make sure that a pet restraint is available for purchase.