Tips for Taking Your Dog Out to the Ballgame

Pittsburgh Pirates Pup Night
Courtesy of the Pittsburgh Pirates
Play ball! Who do you think looks happier to be at the game: This smiling dog or the grinning humans?

A happy dog's mouth is relaxed and loose. If you can see the whites of the eyes or the pupils dilated, it may mean your dog is stressed. And, yawning doesn't always mean your dog is tired — or bored of the game — but rather, it can be another sign of stress.

And, while ballgames are almost synonymous with hot dogs, remember that foods and toys that your dog values strongly can cause conflict among canines. If you're bringing a chew or toy for your dog to entertain himself, maybe don't bring his absolute favorite. "Some dogs get growly and protective when they're around those really valuable things," Becker says. "So maybe don't have that toy there at the game."

Learning to Chill Out

If you want to be able to watch the game, your dog needs to know how to chill for a while. It's actually a useful skill for a dog to willingly lie calmly for an extended period of time. "You could consider training your dog to do this on a certain blanket or mat that you can take to the game," Becker says. Start training a long down on the mat at home, then practice in the yard, a patio, an outdoor cafe or the park, and gradually extend the time.

With this or any behavior you expect of your dog, make sure he's comfortable with it in a more challenging and long-term situation. If he's not good in crowds, with other dogs or with loud noises, an event like this isn't the place to work on it. "This wouldn't be the place to go and try to fix problem behavior," Becker says.

So, make sure the situation will be well within your dog's comfort level, because if he's not happy, you won't be either. If you think your dog is a good candidate to visit the ballpark, then stay safe, keep our tips in mind and root, root, root for the home team!

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