May was National Pet Month and now Pride month is here! For many of us in the LGBTQIA+ community, our dogs are very important members of our chosen families. Dogs (especially in the last year) are our constant companions, and our biggest allies and supporters. Regardless of what the rest of the world might think or say, our dogs love us unconditionally. Looking for ways to incorporate your dog into your festivities? Here are some fun ways to incorporate dogs into Pride!
Dressing up can be a lot of fun for everyone at Pride — dogs included! Regardless of how you and your pup are celebrating this Pride month, consider some festive attire for your pup. If your dog has a light-colored coat you can also use dog-safe temporary colored chalk to give your dog a rainbow look. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out the competitive dog grooming Pooch Perfect TV show’s Pride episode.
If your dog is more in favor of outfits, there are adorable rainbow and pride-themed costumes available from most pet shops in all sizes from Chihuahua to Newfoundland (yes, even my giant dog has a rainbow outfit!). If your dog isn’t used to wearing clothes, start slowly and make it a positive experience. Start by letting your dog sniff any costume or outfit. When your dog is comfortable with the outfit, gently put it on while feeding your dog treats and then take the costume right off. As your dog gets comfortable wearing the outfit you can start to leave it on your dog longer continuing to pair the outfit with treats, toys, and play. Make sure to always supervise your dog when they are wearing their pride-themed outfits to ensure they don’t chew or get tangled in the outfits.
If your dog isn’t comfortable with clothes/costumes, another festive option is to get or make pride-themed bandannas. Most dogs are perfectly comfortable wearing bandannas and Pride-themed ones can correspond with any array of LGBTQIA+ flags, or affirming sentiments like “I love my queer family” etc.
2. Pride-themed treats
Everything is more fun with snacks, and Pride is no exception! If you’re looking for some rainbow themed treats for your pups, most doggy bakeries will have or can create Pride-themed dog-safe cakes, cookies, or pupcakes for your dog and their friends. If you would rather go DIY you can create a healthy rainbow snack platter for your dog for Pride. These treats are ideal if you’re considering having a Pride picnic at home for your pup or have brunch guests coming over with dogs. These puppy Pride treats would look great arranged on a platter to be shared in small bits with the dogs during festivities:
Red – strawberries or (sliced chunks without the rind) watermelon
Orange – carrots
Yellow – (peeled) banana
Green – celery
Blue – blueberries
Purple – blackberries
These are all fruits and vegetables that in moderation are safe for dogs to eat; however, always talk to your vet before feeding anything new to your dog if your dog has a history of stomach upsets.
3. Pride trick “Death Drop”
If you and your dog have been enjoying watching the television series “POSE” you can teach your dog to vogue—or at least do a variation on the classic death drop move. The death drop trick is a variation of the trick that in other contexts is usually referred to as “play dead.” This fun Pride-themed trick is sure to impress your friends and chosen family!
Step 1: Start by asking your dog to “down” or if they don’t know down lure your dog into the down position with a treat
Step 2: Keep your dog’s nose on the treat and lure your dog’s head slightly back and over one of their shoulders. As you move the treat your dog’s nose will follow the treat and their whole body will begin to rotate.
Step 3: As your dog rolls back onto their side, stop rotating the treat and bring it down to the ground. Now your dog is on their side with their head on the ground. Praise and treat your dog! As you are giving your dog the treat, make sure their body is still in the position where they are laying on their side with their head on the ground. This will help your dog make the connection that it’s that specific movement you are wanting.
Step 4: Practice several times and when your dog is following your treat lure. Then, you can start to add in the verbal cue of your choice like “vogue” or “death drop.” As you lure your dog down/over right before their head touches the ground start using your verbal cue.
Step 5: The more familiar with the trick your dog gets after several practice sessions, you can begin verbal cueing earlier and start to fade out the physical luring naturally because your dog will anticipate the lure because they will make the connection between the verbal cue and the death drop trick.
Step 6: The more you practice and the more familiar with the trick your dog gets, you’ll also be able to start building duration where your dog will hold the final death drop position until released to get the treat. Add duration very slowly by adding time second by second before you praise and treat/release your dog.
4. Have your own parade
Solo marches were the theme of 2020 Pride with most of the country being in full lockdown. In June 2020, my dog Sirius wore her rainbow costume and I took a Pride walk through our neighborhood most evenings, and it has become a tradition I’m carrying into future years. This solo Pride parade is a fun way to celebrate Pride when you or your dog, or both of you aren’t up for, or comfortable with a big social event. These solo Pride marches through your neighborhood are also a great way to meet supportive neighbors and bring some Pride energy to your neighborhood!
5. Organize a meetup
Coming out of lockdown it can feel a bit hard to reconnect with friends, make new friends, or establish a new social life. If you and your dog are looking to make some friends this Pride season you can use social media to connect with other LGBTQIA+ dog lovers in your area. This can be a great way to build community for yourself (and your dog) with other LGBTQIA+ people who are as obsessed with their dogs as you are. You can meetup for dog walks, brunch, or drinks at outdoor dog-friendly cafes, or organize Pride related events together. For example, Queer Dog Meetup is an NYC group that organizes regular meetups of LGBTQIA+ people and their dogs in NYC and actually just had their first Pride march for dogs in Brooklyn!
6. Attend Pride together
If your local Pride event is dog friendly, or has dog-friendly components like a community picnic or festival in a park, you could plan to bring your dog with you to Pride. Not every dog will enjoy Pride so if you are bringing your dog to Pride, first make sure that it’s dog friendly and that your dog is comfortable being around large groups of people and other dogs.
7. Doggy Pride art
Pride month is a great time to let your true colors shine, and what’s more fun than arts and crafts? For this activity, you will use your dog’s paw print to create rainbow art. To make this craft you will either need dog-safe ink pads in every color of the rainbow or you can get just one color of dog-safe ink and then use a photo editing software to adjust the colors of the paw prints. To make a paw print rainbow:
Step 1: Ask your dog to sit or down and then press their paw into the ink pad making sure to get all those paw pads covered with ink.
Step 2: Press your dog’s paw onto a piece of paper and give your dog a treat.
Step 3: Repeat the stamping of your dog’s paw onto the page in a rainbow arc shape alternating colors if you have all the rainbow colors or in the same color if you are going to digitally modify the rainbow paw prints.
Step 4: Allow the print to dry and then it’s ready to put on your fridge, frame, or share on social media!