For a lot of people, attending Farmers Market of the Ozarks isn’t just about getting your local groceries and artisan products (although that is a big part of it!). Farmers market is also all about the social experience – visiting with the farmers who grew your food, meeting up with good friends for a bite to eat from the food trucks, or letting your child play with other kiddos in the pop-up fountains. There is no doubt about it – FMO is one of Springfield’s greatest social scenes! But is it a great social scene for your dog?
Many folks attend FMO (or other busy settings) with their dogs thinking that it will help the dog ‘get their social on,’ so to speak. But the fact of the matter is, our bustling marketplace is NOT an appropriate place to socialize your pup. As a responsible dog owner, you’ll want to think about it from the dog’s point of view – if you have never been acclimated to people, vehicles, live music and other dogs, would you be comfortable sitting still while mom and dad purchase their tomatoes when folks are visiting loudly, PA announcements are booming from the pavilion speakers, or a toddler tries to grab your tail in an attempt to pet you? Probably not, right?
Misti Fry, of Springfield Side Kick Dog Training, offers some stellar advice about proper socialization for Fido: “” Giving dogs proper socialization is a conscious effort to expose the dog to new situations and make sure the dog is not overwhelmed and has a positive experience with the new situation. During this process the owner should be focusing on the dog and making sure it is learning happily. Proper socialization should have already been done with the dog before it is exposed to extremely busy situations like the farmers market. It is very easy to be distracted and allow the dog to encounter things it is not ready for. Even a well socialized dog can be faced with challenges at such a busy place like the market. It is our job as responsible owners to prepare our dogs with training and pay attention to their emotional state whenever we take them into public.”
Now, does this mean you can’t ever bring your dog into a busy social atmosphere? Not at all – but it will take time and proper training. Start out by taking your dog for a walk around the community garden and micro-orchard on market day – they’ll still be close to the action, but no so close as to put them in a stressful situation. (Plus, there is a ‘doggy bag’ station in the micro-orchard!) Having training sessions with Springfield Side Kick Dog Training will also help with proper socialization skills, plus get you and your dog on track to register with FMO’s Canine Good Citizen program!
Dogs can learn to enjoy some of the same fun social atmospheres that you do – but make sure you have set them up for success first!