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Bringing your dog to summer parties

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Summer in Michigan is meant for parties... and festivals, and concerts, and beach BBQ's. And I want to bring my dog along to all of them. Why not? He loves being out with his people, and other people always love a dog. Right? Well, maybe not. While dogs are allowed in many more places than they ever were before, dog owners still have to work hard to make sure their dogs aren't going to wear out their welcome. Want to party with your dog this summer? Follow these tips, and you and your dog will be excellent guests.

Is Fido Invited?
Always, always ask if your dog is invited to any party. The event may be held at a park or other venue that does not allow dogs. Even if your host has a dog of his or her own, never assume yours will be welcome. Some dogs are very territorial or nervous when on their home turf, and your dog may just make it worse. Be gracious; your host probably has a good reason for refusing entrance to your furry friend. If you're headed out to dinner, check BringFido.com for dog-friendly restaurants and parks in the Grand Rapids area.

Know Before You Go
Once you know your dog will be welcome, it's time to do some pre-party recon.

Know Your Dog
Do you know how your dog will react to a variety of situations? Think about any new stuff he may encounter. Will there be loud music? A bonfire? If you're not sure how Fido will respond, it might be best to leave him at home.

Know the Other Guests
Will there be other dogs at the party? How about kids? You may also want to ask the host if any guests are uncomfortable around dogs, so you can keep your dog away from them.

Know the Scene
Will you be indoors or outside? Is the area fenced or open? Is there a place to take your dog to do his "business"? Make sure you ask the host which areas are off limits as a bathroom. The last thing you want is Fido to water her prize-winning rose bush.

Feed Your Dog Before the Party
Most of the time, parties equal food. If you allow your dog to eat table scraps or beg from the table, he's probably going to hit up other guests as well. Feeding your dog before you go helps curb his appetite, making it easier to control his behavior.

Things To Bring
Even if you plan on letting your dog run around off-leash, bring one anyway. The leash gives you more control at the start of the party while you greet other guests and hand the hostess that bottle of wine you brought. You should also bring a water bowl and water for your dog. Do not bring your dog's favorite toy! Otherwise calm dogs may start scuffles over a toy, so just avoid the drama and keep them at home.

Watch Your Dog
Make sure he's being a good party guest. This includes not allowing him to beg for food or jump on guests. Barking or whining are not polite either. While you may think all those "kisses" are cute, there is sure to be at least one guest who's not a dog person. They don't think it's cute at all!
Also be aware of how your dog is interacting with the host's pet. Don't allow him to chase cats and keep him away from chicken coops or rabbit hutches. Show him where to potty and take him there often, so as to avoid accidents.

Be Prepared to Leave Early
Maybe your dog has been sneaking cheese all night, and now isn't feeling so great. Or someone's bratty kid won't stop chasing him. Or he's freaked out by all fireworks set off by the neighbors. Whatever the reason, it's best to plan on leaving the party if things get out of hand. Your host and your dog will thank you!

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