Pooches big and small will be flocking back to the New Forest this weekend to let their fur down at Dogstival, and it's sure to be the first time of many for lockdown pups!
With thousands of dogs set to attend, the doggy day out is a great opportunity for new furry additions to get out there and start 'petworking'.
Socialising with around 4,000 dogs in one go doesn't tend to feature on the puppy school syllabus though, so here are some tips to help would-be four-legged festival goers make the most of their 'Glasto with a bark' experience...
10 Tips for Dogstival First-Timers
Ramp up socialisation. With freedom in sniffing distance, it’s time to get out and about in pursuit of getting your furry friend comfortable with the sights, sounds, smells, surprises and bodies they'll encounter at Dogstival. Try walks in busier parks, new trails and visit dog-friendly venues - anything you can do to up the ante on their social skills. But gently does it so they don't get overwhelmed.
Prep for a road trip! If you're travelling from further afield, avoid feeding your dog just before you leave as it can cause travel sickness. Take them for a short stroll prior to departure to avoid a restless journey, and ensure they're safe whilst travelling with a doggy seatbelt or travel crate. Make sure to offer regular stops for comfort breaks and provide plenty of water. If it’s warm, ensure the car is ventilated or the AC is on to keep your dog nice and cool.
Pack their doggy essentials. Unless they're partaking in one of the activities, dogs must be on a lead at all times at Dogstival, so a harness and lead are a must, as well as poop bags, a travel bowl and fresh water. Make sure to check the weather beforehand so you can pack accordingly. If it's forecast to be warm, a cooling coat and specialist dog sunscreen for sensitive and exposed areas is worth investing in. If you have a golden oldie, consider bringing a pet stroller or dog carrier - this will offer them a place to rest whilst still allowing them to participate in the four-legged party.
Be a responsible pet owner. Remember 'dogs on leads' is compulsory and your pooch must be in your sights and reach at all times. If your furry friend is being especially enthusiastic about meeting another dog, assess whether their affections are being matched. If not and their intended looks stressed or agitated by the unwanted attention, move along!
Try something new. With a host of have-a-go activities, Dogstival is the perfect opportunity for your dog to try something new. Experiment with a future joint hobby such as canicross or agility, or if your dog loves frolicking around in water, head over to the giant K9 dog diving pool to make a splash.
Don't force fun and offer time for canine chill. Dogstival has untold things for your dog to try, eat, watch, do and sniff but if they look like they're not enjoying something, don't force it. Offer gentle encouragement and praise. Remember, bad experiences stick so if your dog looks like they are NOT having the time of their life, stop immediately. Pit stops throughout the day are also advised, so your dog can hydrate, chill and cool off.
Broaden those hound horizons. TV Vet Dr Scott Miller will lead a packed line up on the Dog House Stage talking health, behaviour and canine nutrition, as well as giving advice to new lockdown owners. Leading behaviourist Natalie Light and Vault physio Rochelle Dunster will also be delivering a range of talks to get your canine IQ up to speed. Plus, for a more personal service, owners can drop in and meet the expert team at one of the ‘Ask The Expert’ sessions.
Eat something lip-smackingly good! Dogstival is a smorgasbord of delicious treats for your dog - serving up everything from pupcakes, biscuits and meaty treats to ice-cream and doggy drinks. There’s even a Pupuccino Bar! Do remember to treat your dog responsibly though, as overindulging them might make them sick or give them an upset tummy. Don't forget, you can always take any excess treats home in a doggy bag.
Go on a shopping spree. With more than 140 independent stalls selling every doggy delicacy and bit of kit imaginable, Dogstival is a brilliant place to discover new brands, get advice and treat your dog to something new for their pawdrobe. If you have a lockdown pup who is now fully grown, it's also the perfect time to upgrade their wares.
Strike a pose. Dogstival will be packed with epic photo props and opportunities to get snap after snap to share on your socials. So doggos, fluff up that fur, don your doggy finest and get ready to pose.
Dogstival takes place on 5th & 6th June 2021 at Burley Park, New Forest. Tickets are priced at £13.90 for adults, £8 for children 6 years old plus. Concessions are available. For more information and tickets, visit Dogstival.co.uk.