How to Tailgate with Your Dog

If you miss your best furry friend while you’re tailgating on game day, why not take them with you? Most dogs love an outing, and for social dogs, this is the perfect opportunity for lots of attention. Not to mention all of those mouthwatering smells — your dog’s nose will be sniffing nonstop.

But there are a few things to consider before you go tailgating with your dog, because it’s not for every dog. They’ll also need some supplies to keep them safe and happy. Maybe they could get their own personal tailgating cooler!

Are They a Parking Lot Tailgater or a Stay-at-Home Tail-Wagger?

Before you race out and buy a team bandana for your dog, think about their personality. Do they love all humans and want to be best friends with every person, dog and mascot they meet? Or are they shy around new people and new locations? A crowded parking lot is probably not the best place for a timid dog or a dog that’s scared of loud noises.

Before You Head to the Stadium…

If you’re outgoing dog is up for a tail-waggin’ good time, then there are few things to consider while you’re packing the grill, chairs and coolers into the back of your car or truck. Did you check whether the venue allows furry friends to tailgate? Both of you are going to be unhappy if you have to turn right back around and drop your disappointed doggy off at home.

Also, what’s the weather like? You don’t want a hot dog or a popsicle — even if you’re willing to brave extreme weather for the love of your team, your dog probably shouldn’t. Chances are they’d rather be comfortable at home than at the tailgate panting or shivering with you. If the weather is hot but not unsafe for your dog, make sure they have a shady place to relax and plenty of cool water available. If it’s going to be on the cooler side, give them a protected place to warm up if they need to.

People Food for People, Dog Food for Dogs

As you’re packing your cooler, make sure you grab some dog food, treats and water, and bowls for your dog to eat and drink from. Your dog’s going to be very tempted to sample from the people food table, but it’s important that they don’t in case there’s something that will upset their stomach or that is toxic to them. You don’t want to miss out on the big game because you’re at the veterinary clinic with your sick dog.

Also, watch out for spilled drinks and food on the ground — particularly alcohol, which is toxic to dogs. Check out our article “Signs of Poisoning in Pets (and What to Do About It)” before you go, in case they do sneak some people food or eat something questionable off the ground.

Take All the Doggy Things

You’re bringing some of your home comforts, so bring some for your dog, too. Pack a blanket or towel for them to lie on and some toys in case they get bored. Your dog chewing on a dog toy replica of the other team’s mascot is sure to be a big hit with fellow tailgaters.

A short leash is another must have. Even if your dog is well trained, they could get spooked at the tailgate or overwhelmed by all the people and run off. A leash also helps keep them from following those delicious smells coming from your parking lot neighbor’s grill — and from running off with a cornhole bag. Before you leave home, check that their ID information is up-to-date just in case they do escape the leash.

If you decide to dress your dog in team colors, it’s probably best to stick with a collar or bandana. If you choose to go with another clothing item, make sure it fits well and doesn’t have any dangling parts that are tempting chew toys and potential choking or intestinal obstruction hazards. Make sure it also doesn’t obstruct their hearing, vision or breathing. Of course, your dog should also like wearing it, so that they’re not spending the whole time trying to tear it off. Your dog ripping your team’s jersey to shreds probably isn’t a good look at a tailgate!

Safety Tips for Tailgating with Your Dog

While your dog may be the goodest girl or boy around, you can’t guarantee that the humans at the tailgate will be on their best behavior. So make sure you keep a close eye on your dog and the people coming up to give your cutie a cuddle without asking first.

You should also watch out for signs of stress in your dog. The tailgate probably has a lot more people than they’re used to being around, and, combined with the loud music and people chatter coming from every direction, they may become overwhelmed. Signs of stress to look for include flattened ears, yawning, panting, lip licking, cowering and tucking their tail between their legs. If your dog is showing signs that they’re not comfortable tailgating, it’s probably time to pack up and head home.

Speaking of heading home, make sure you’re a good tailgater and clean up before you drive off. This includes cleaning up after your dog, so make sure to bring some poop bags with you.


Hopefully by following these tips you will have a fun and safe day tailgating with your dog. You’ll both walk away winners — even if your team doesn’t.


RELATED POST: How to Throw Your Dog a Pawsome Party


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