A FAMILY FRIENDLY FESTIVAL FOR DOGS AND DOG LOVERS
On May 18th and 19th I attended the event ‘Dogstival’ to deliver three interactive demos for dog owners, enthusiasts and lovers on each day of this fabulous new show.
Set in the grounds of the beautiful Pylewell Park in the New Forest, we were blessed with some glorious sunshine over the weekend and were visited by approximately 10,000 owners and their beautiful best friends.
Planning for my demonstrations for Dogstival began over a year ago when I first approached the Dogstival team, Richard and Domine, with my idea to create a stage that looked like a house and use an accompanying giant LED screen to educate the everyday dog owner not only on how they can best train and stimulate their dogs, but also prevent behavioural issues and rehabilitate their best friends if necessary. Careful planning ensued, along with two separate filming days, to capture the specific footage required for two of my three demonstrations: ‘Understanding & Managing Separation Anxiety’ and ‘Training & Care Through Your Dog’s Lifestages’.
Separation anxiety is a behavioural issue that I come across on a weekly basis, with many dogs experiencing stress and anxiety when their owners leave them by themselves. I am always looking to find a platform to help dog owners to understand this behavioural issue further and see the world from their dog’s perspective, and Dogstival struck me as the perfect place to be able to do this. Being dog lovers themselves, Richard and Domine also wanted to help as many people coming through the gates as possible to be able to take something away from the day, not just memories, but also some knowledge on how to improve their dog’s life and their relationship with their dog!
Separation anxiety can, if not appropriately dealt with, cause a dog great psychological distress and my second demonstration of the day at Dogstival allowed me to showcase the often extreme reactions of dogs experiencing this psychological condition. With the use of both the LED screen and the Dog House stage, I was able to not only show footage of our client Barney the Spaniel and his rehabilitation from this issue, but I was also able to walk and talk those observing through the basic rehabilitation training required using my own dog Wren and the fabulous stage and props designed specifically for this purpose by Wild and Wonderful Events and their partner business Wilds Workshop.
Big, small, slow and quick, we were visited by a variety of breeds, ages and energy of dog. Highlights included helping the many owners and their dogs who patiently queued to ask me training and behavioural advice, meeting the Instagram famous but tiny Somerset Sausage dogs Mitzi and Heidi, as well as helping the denim clad Cavdashian dogs Tilly, Marnie and Maddie with some training advice. Holly from Designed for Dogs was also one of the friendliest people I have ever met, had an array of beautifully created dog items for sale, and organised an ‘Insta Hound Meet’ each day for everyone to get involved in. Wren also enjoyed sitting on her famous ‘Red Chair’ for a selfie!
For a show running in it’s first year, I was extremely impressed with the layout of the site and the variety of activities on offer for dog owners, including ‘Have a go Agility’ and a ‘Fun Dog Scurry’, as well as the K9 Aquasplash for the more confident dogs in the crowd. Although we didn’t get to listen in much as we were so busy, the Dogstival Speakers Lounge hosted by BBC Anna Webb also seemed to provide some excellent talks, with The Vet on the Hill TV star and veterinarian Dr Scott Miller providing some invaluable information about canine CPR.
Looking after our environment
Being an avid wildlife lover and passionate about all living creatures, not just those with fur, four legs and a lolloping tongue, I was impressed to see that a variety of local charities and stalls encouraging the conservation of our wildlife and planet, as well as the protection of our wildlife when out walking with our dogs. I was particularly impressed with the ‘no plastic’ wrapping of Goodchaps and the dog accessories made out of cork and pineapples (of all things!) by Two Dogs & Co. Owner’s visiting the site also seemed to have the same approach, with hardly any rubbish left on site at the end of the two days and owners carefully picking up any mess made.
My third demonstration of the day on the Dog House Stage was centred around the life stages of a dog and how owners can encourage dogs to play, for example chase a ball, rather than find their own game of chasing wildlife, seeking out birds to flush and disturbing ground nesting and dwelling creatures. I was extremely pleased to see that both Bird Aware Solent and Marwell Zoo had a stand at the show and were also promoting the protection of our wildlife and educating the many dog owners passing by through the use of interactive games and chatting to them about this issue. This modern day approach to conservation is extremely encouraging to see.
Natural products and local people
Despite the size of the show, I was extremely encouraged to find that a large portion of the stands were small businesses and/or people from the local area. With so many other large events offering pitches to multi-million-pound businesses, Dogstival had clearly gone for the more personal and local approach. This made for finding unique and interesting items for dogs as well as products that had clearly had a lot of heart and soul poured into their making. Personal favourites were the handmade, all-natural treats provided by a number of stalls, with Wren’s super sensitive nose seeking out and making a beeline towards Posh Pet Kitchen’s Liver Brownies. Since being home, Yogi and Penny can also vouch for their quality and tastiness…we will definitely be reordering!
All in all, we had an absolutely fabulous time connecting with everyone involved in making Dogstival the absolute success it was. Roll on next year!