The farmer’s market is a place filled with colorful sights, striking sounds, and delicious scents—making it the perfect spot for outings with your dog. Whether you’re shopping for yourself or for ingredients to make your pet’s meals, there are certain rules of etiquette and safety that will help make the outing a success.
“The first thing you should do is to make sure your dog is even allowed at the market,” says Elisha Stynchula, a certified dog trainer with “I Said Sit” School for Dogs in Los Angeles, California. “Many of the markets in Los Angeles don’t allow dogs.” Sometimes these are market rules, but sometimes it has to do with local and state health laws that prevent non-service animals from being in places where food is prepared.
If your farmer’s market does allow dogs, make sure you know the rules before heading out.
Is Your Dog Ready for the Farmer’s Market?
Just like people, some dogs do very well in busy, crowded environments and some do not. “The most important thing is to make sure you have a dog that’s comfortable around children, strollers, and crowds,” says Stynchula. “Puppies get overwhelmed easily and you also probably don’t want to take a newly adopted dog on an outing like this.”
Consider keeping your dog at home if he is scared by loud noises. “Some markets offer entertainment and music,” says Merritt Milam, a certified dog trainer at Wags ‘N Whiskers in Homewood, Alabama.
Stynchula says if your dog understands basic training, such as sitting patiently while you talk to vendors or people from the neighborhood, he’s probably a good farmer’s market companion.
Preparing for a Healthy Outing
Dr. Carol Osborne, a veterinarian who specializes in integrative medicine at Chagrin Falls Veterinary Center and Pet Clinic in Chagrin Falls, Ohio says there are certain safety precautions you should consider before taking your dog on an outing.
Check the weather. “If the weather is going to be extremely hot or cold, leave your dog at home. I’ve seen people with their dogs just panting terribly on a hot day while at these events,” says Osborne.
Keep your dog up-to-date on vaccines. Osborne says to make sure your dog is current on all of his vaccines, including Bordetella (kennel cough) and other vaccines that protect against airborne illnesses. “You don’t know what other dogs may be carrying,” says Osborne, “so if a dog is infected, it could infect yours.”
Make sure your dog has identification. Farmer’s markets are busy locations with crowds and lots of commotion. Before heading out for the day, make sure your dog has proper identification on him in the form of an ID tag or microchip. Don’t forget to keep these items up to date with your current address or phone number. It’s also a good idea to carry a current photo of your dog in your purse or wallet in the event that your dog gets lost or goes missing.
Visiting the Farmer’s Market With Your Dog: What to Bring
The most important thing to bring with you to the farmer’s market is a leash, which will ensure your dog stays close. Do not use a retractable leash, which can accidentally extend and potentially cause a disaster. “It could get tangled around a table leg. Or worse, your dog could jump up on a table,” says Stynchula. “Take a standard, six foot, flat leash.”
Stynchula says other things to take along in a doggy preparedness bag include:
Poop bags. Cleaning up is just part of the pet parenting job, and having bags on hand will prevent you from receiving a fine for not picking up your dog’s waste.
Collapsible bowl and water bottle. Your dog may get thirsty and while some vendors may provide communal bowls, it’s better to be prepared with your own.
High value treats. Stynchula says your dog will be tempted with all kinds of treats and distractions all day long, so you should have particularly tasty treats on hand. Use these high-value treats to reward good behavior such as walking with you, waiting patiently while you shop, and ignoring food on the ground. “Cheese or pieces of chicken are always typically good high value treats for these types of situations,” she says.
Essential Safety Tips for Dogs at the Farmer’s Market
When at the market, Stynchula says to be aware of who is approaching your dog at all times. “Your dog may be very well socialized, but you can create a reactive dog if you allow anyone or any dog to approach and touch your dog,” says Stynchula. “If kids approach your dog, put yourself between them and your dog. Don’t put your dog in a situation that might cause a liability.”
Osborne says it’s also important to keep your dog away from food and hot grills. There are many foods at the farmer’s market that could be toxic to your dog, including grapes, onions, and certain types of plants or flowers, such as azaleas, tulips, or sago palms. Some farmer’s markets allow vendors to cook foods on hot grills, so it’s important to be mindful of your dog at all times to prevent potential injuries or burns.
If at any point during the market your dog seems stressed or too anxious, Milam reminds pet parents that they can always leave. “Watch your dog, make sure he is still calm,” she says. “If your dog seems anxious or uncomfortable, you should remove him from the situation.”
Farmer’s markets are fun events and sharing a stroll through the stalls is a great way to spend some time with your canine companion. But Stynchula says that if you choose to take your dog to the market, your main priority should be his safety and wellbeing. “You are your dog’s advocate for health and happiness,” she says. “Pet parents need to make sure they are keeping that in mind when out in public.”
Image via: Arina P Habich / Shutterstock.com