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  • Writer's pictureNAH Admin-Coordinator

10 Tips for Tailgating with Your Dog

Happy Game Day, Gators! It’s officially time to pack the Swamp with Orange and Blue! Coming together with all your college pals for football season is always a fun time, and there’s no doubt bringing your four-legged friend along can make it even better. When planning to tailgate with your dog, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure both their enjoyment and safety:

1. Make sure your dog is comfortable in crowds.

It’s no surprise that not all dogs are great around people. If your dog enjoys meeting people and has a strong foundation of behavioral obedience, tailgating can be a very fun experience for them! But if your pup could use some work in the area of training, it may be a good idea to schedule a session with one of our dog training partners before bringing your dog to a tailgate.

2. Wait until your dog is old enough/vaccinated

Deadly diseases like Parvo, Distemper, and Leptospirosis thrive in dirty areas such as outdoor tailgates. Introducing your puppy to this environment before they are completely vaccinated can be very dangerous. For their safety, leave your pup at home until they have all their boosters.

3. Bring supplies that will keep your pup fed and comfortable

While you pack all your food, drinks, and folding chairs, make sure to include items that will help your pet feel comfortable too! Bringing along dog food, bowls, and lots of water will help ensure your dog will remain full and happy while away from home. A travel bed and toys will also make the environment more comfortable, as your dog will have a safe place to rest if they need some space from the party.

4. Make sure the weather forecast is ideal for dogs

Pro tip: check the forecast before you decide to bring your pup to the tailgate. Dogs are significantly more sensitive to weather than humans, so any slight change in temperature or precipitation can affect them greatly. If the weather seems like it’s going to be hot, it may be a good idea to leave your dog at home to protect them from heatstroke.

5. Keep your dog on a leash

Alachua County law states that owners must maintain physical control of their dog at all times when their dog is off their owner’s property. Not only is keeping your dog on leash part of the law, but it is also the safest situation for your dog when in a loud area with several distractions (and cars!). Even if your dog is well-behaved, it can be hard to predict the behavior of other dogs, children, and intoxicated people.

6. Plan ahead for someone to pick up your pup when it’s time to head inside the stadium

It is never acceptable to lock your dog in the car, especially in the heat of Florida. When the time comes to head to the stadium for the game, you should already have a plan in place for someone to come pick up your dog and take them home to relax in the quiet and air conditioning.

7. Know your dog’s limits

As noted before, not all dogs are social. Tailgates are a hypothetical petri dish for fear triggers in dogs. Loud, thumping music, screams, shouts, hundreds of smells, and sudden movements are just a few things that can drive a dog to either get reactive or run away in fear. Understanding your dog’s potential triggers as well as their personal signs of stress is crucial to keeping them under threshold while at a tailgate. If you notice your dog exhibiting stress signals while at a tailgate, it may be time to take them home.

8. Do not give your dog human food

We say this every year during the holidays, and will offer another reminder now during football season - human food should not be given to dogs. When dogs are given human food that their stomachs are not used to, it can trigger gastrointestinal issues such as severe diarrhea, vomiting, and even an intestinal obstruction if they happen to swallow a hard object like a chicken bone. Several human foods are toxic to dogs as well, so a good rule of thumb is to steer clear of giving any human food to your dog in general.

9. Help your dog catch the team spirit with Gators gear!

There’s no better place than a tailgate to get decked out in orange and blue! Before game day, visit one of our locally-owned pet partners to pick up a Gators bandana, collar, or even a jersey for your pup! For a list of pet stores in our area, visit

10. Clean up after your dog

No one wants to step in doggie doo-doo on their walk to the stadium. Always keep doggie bags on hand, and clean up after your pet when they do their business. After all, it is tailgate etiquette to leave your area cleaner than you found it!


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