Having a Barbecue? Here's How to Keep Your Dog Safe

Everyone loves a good barbecue! They're fun, you get to hang out with family and friends and cook together, and you get to show off your grilling skills.🍗

However, barbecues are still dangerous, especially with dogs around. Accidents are quick to happen, and you definitely want to avoid that!


If you don’t know the answer, don't start panicking just yet, we're here to help! 

In today's episode, Sarah and I will be discussing everything you need to know to keep your puppy or dog safe during a barbecue. 

It's all about being proactive in order to prevent anything bad from happening.

So, if you want to learn about the best way to secure your yard, when to have your dog join the party, and when to put sunscreen on your dog (yes, some of them need some skincare, too), tune in now, because this episode is for you!

Always Secure Your Yard

The first thing to do when you’re hosting a barbecue is make sure your yard is properly secured. I can hear you thinking “No kidding, Kathy!”, but one of the most common complaints we hear from our students is that their dog escaped  during a barbecue party and was lost or injured. 

So, make sure the gate to the yard is closed, and ask your guests ahead of time to close it as well when they use it. You can even go as far as putting a sign on it that says: “Please make sure the gate is latched”. 

Something else you can do is train your dog not to go through open doors. You can start this “doorway protocol” weeks before the party so that even if the gate is left open, your dog understands he shouldn’t run through it without permission.

If you want your dog to be outside during your party, make sure he’s leashed. You can also assign someone you trust to be on dog duty and keep an eye on your pup. 

You can also take your dog out before the party. Take him on a hike or a long walk and tire him out, so that by the time the party starts, he’s tired enough for a long nap! Leave him with some frozen food toys, and believe me, he’ll be happy to forgo the barbecue for a good nap and some nice food.

This is especially important if your dog is in any way fearful or reactive. If he’s nervous around people, he shouldn’t be attending the party.

Finally, if your dog does get out, make sure he always has plenty of water available to him. People are drinking, and your dog needs to drink, too! This is especially true if you’re somewhere hot. Dogs get overheated much quicker than you think, and the only way they can cool themselves down is through panting. You can help cool your best friend down by using a planter mister. Mist it under his groin and under his arms, but if it’s way too hot, just put him somewhere cooler or keep him inside. 

Remind Your Guests of Food Rules

This one might seem obvious, but we still have to say it: Don’t feed your dog barbecue food! 

And yes, you probably already know that you shouldn’t be feeding your dog from your plate, but your guests might not know. And your dog is super cute, so they probably will want to give him a treat for coming over to say hello to them. 

But barbecue food can be greasy and upset your pup’s stomach. Even worse, certain foods like corn, onion, garlic, raisins, or grapes can be toxic for your dog. So, to avoid any cases of poisoning, remind your guests not to feed your dog. 

Something else you could do before the party starts is practice your impulse control games with the food you leave on the table. 

I sometimes even take it a step further and tell people not to feed my dog or they’re not getting invited  back (I know, harsh, but it works!). Or, you can do what Sarah did when she recently hosted some friends: She told them her dog would get sick if he eats anything but the super special stuff that her vet said he can have. The idea of having dog vomit all over their shoes would stop anyone from feeding a dog.

However, sometimes the issue is not people feeding your dog, but your dog sneaking in and eating people’s leftovers from the garbage. So, keep an eye on him, and if hours after the party is done, your dog seems uncomfortable or “off” (he’s struggling or listless), call your vet, because he might have ingested something he shouldn’t have!

Always expect disaster and plan for it, which is why our advice is to keep your dog inside!

Keep Your Pup Away From the Grill

Always make sure to keep your dog away from the grill. You might wonder, why would my dog want to go to the grill? Because it smells like food! I’ve had students whose dogs have jumped on the grill and seared their little paws!! 

So please, keep your dog away from the grill, even after you’ve finished grilling, because when you turn it off, it still stays hot for a while.

Some dogs will also try and go underneath the grill to get the drippings from the food being cooked, and as you might already know, that’s a big no-no! They could ingest something toxic or end up with an upset stomach, OR knock over the grill, so keep them away. 

Skincare for Dogs ?

Believe it or not, some dogs do need sunscreen! Anywhere on their skin without fur that’s exposed to the sun should have sunscreen on. 

If you have a ‘naked’ breed, like a Whippet for example, put some sunscreen on him before going out .  Make sure the brand you choose is for dogs, or, if you use a human version, use one for babies that doesn't contain zinc!  As always, check with your veterinarian first!

Practice Pool Etiquette

If you have a pool in your backyard, make sure to put a life vest on your dog, even if he knows how to swim. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. 

It’s estimated that about 5000 family pets drown in backyard swimming pools annually, and naturally, you don’t want your best friend to be part of this statistic. 

The rules for dogs in the water are the same for children: Safety first, and always be proactive. If you’re going to have a big party and your pool isn’t fully enclosed, have your dog wear a life vest, even if he’s an awesome swimmer. Because if he’s out there with the kids swimming and playing, you and other people might be too busy to notice the signs when he starts getting tired.

My best advice is to have your dog wear a life vest if he’s going to have access to the pool. Or, even better, close your gates, and make sure to have a big sign on them saying that dogs aren’t allowed in the pool area so your guests don’t allow him in

Fireworks, You Said?

Keep your dog safe during a barbecue!

If you’re having a barbecue for Memorial Day or the Fourth of July and you know there’s going to be fireworks, be proactive. As we’ve already discussed in an earlier episode, fireworks can be pretty terrifying to dogs, so make sure to give that a listen to learn our techniques for making those events less stressful for everyone! 


What else do you do to prepare for a barbecue party with your dog? Let us know in the comments below!