7 Tips for taking your dog to SuperCrawl – or any outdoor festival

art-crawl-1It’s that time of year again.

James Street North in Hamilton, Ontario shuts down to car traffic and opens to throngs of pedestrians participating in SuperCrawl (Sept. 9-11, 2016) – a massive outdoor urban festival of high and low art, performance, music and fashion shows.

It’s the most successful event to evolve out of a grassroots initiative called Art Crawl.

On the second Friday of every month, the same street becomes an evening of open retail shops, buskers and street vendors. Galleries open doors, local artisans claim tables at the Maker’s Market and street artists prop up paintings along the sidewalk. There are few rules.

The idea behind Art Crawl was to bring more people to a struggling downtown in a somewhat struggling city. It was an amazing success.  Now, the monthly Art Crawl and its big sister, the annual SuperCrawl, are major city attractions – without losing their grassroots charm.

SuperCrawl, run by a non-profit committee and its eighth season, attracts tens of thousands to the blocked off city streets. Every hotel is booked, five outdoor stages are set up and curbs are ready for food trucks.

You’re mostly outside, day and evening, so dogs can come along. A few galleries don’t mind if they sneak in. Restaurants are off limits of course, but most people eat outside anyway. My crazy black mix-mutt Victor attended last year (check out his adventures). This year he’s full of sage advice:

Victor’s seven considerations when taking your dog to SuperCrawl…

or any outdoor festival


Is your dog shy, timid or easily tired? Likely, not a good fit for festivals, though maybe a 7-tips-for-festivalsstroller – if your dog is small enough – might help. Crowds will make it challenging to maneuver, though. My dog is fearless to a fault and usually up for anything – except dogs that get in his face quickly.

If your dog does that, keep an eye on him. To us that seems friendly. But to dogs, straight in the face is assertive. Sniffing butts, however, is a good thing. No really. Don’t discourage it – too many people do. Deal with the awkward moment, praise your pup, and move on.


Take a leash of course and in this case leave the extendable home. (Yes, I use one in open spaces). I love harnesses because there’s no pulling on Victor’s neck, which can cause health issues over time. My dog pulls, so a harness is needed. I love Kurgo’s Go Tech Adventure  (from Amazon) – primarily because it has a back handle  … just in case.


Dog festivals like London’s Pawlooza have dog water bowls all over the place, but most people festivals don’t. There are no fountains at SuperCrawl, so you need either a portable bottle and dish combo or your own water bottle and a collapsible bowl like a styling one from Carolina Pet Company’s Pendleton National Parks collection.

Poop Bags

Bring many poop bags for obvious reasons. (If you want to make a political statement check out these from MetroPet I found at SuperZoo). I know Victor: the more he walks, the more he poops.

Noise level dog collar from SuperCrawl dogtrotting.net

The bands are loud, even during the day and especially in front of the speakers. If it’s too loud for you, it’s way too loud for Fido’s sensitive ears. Stand behind the crowd. You’ll sacrifice your view but not your dog’s ears.

Surprises under the table

What festival doesn’t have vendors? SuperCrawl is a creative, so there are numerous arts and craft booths. Many times I’ve been distracted by bling and didn’t notice Victor heading under a table. Sometimes it’s to rest, but sometimes he’s noise-to-noise with another dog, or someone’s lunch. Either way, it’s potentially not good.

Dog Love

Many people love dogs. You’ve taken your cute pooch out in public before, so you know you’ll be greeted a lot. Give up trying to walk blocks without being stopped, spoken to, and your dog fussed over. At SuperCrawl, expect to meet all walks of life.

At a literary event once, a guy yelled at me from a table: “don’t even think of walking by with that dog.” He meant he wanted me to bring Victor over to him. Ok. I understand, Victor is irresistible. It’s the cross we bare.

Get ready SuperCrawl, Super Pup is coming.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If you’re anywhere near the Toronto/Niagara area, get to SuperCrawl, September 9 to 11, 2016.  James Street North, Downtown Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Have more tips for making the most of outdoor festivals with your dog? Let us know in the comments below.



  1. […] Ultimately, many considerations for taking your dog with you are the same as any festival of densely attended outdoor event. Check out our festival-going considerations here. […]

  2. […] I’m not sure if I’m over anxious as a result, but there seems to be an above average number of dogs in Victor’s face today – people not paying attention and letting their dogs run straight at him despite me asking them to pull them back. […]

  3. Good tips!

    I appreciate that you included leaving shy or timid dogs at home. Unfortunately, at events like this, people often bring dogs that don’t really need to be there. Some dogs are happier at home!

    1. Some are yes, especially if there is company at home. Mine does not like being left. And he’s usually likes a lot of energy and chaos. A DNA test just revealed he’s part Jack Russell, which explains a few things.

  4. It sounds like Super Crawl would be awesome for dogs with the right temperament! These are great things to keep in mind when going out somewhere where there are a lot of dogs and people.

    1. My dog likes groups of people – he likes packs. But if there’s too many dogs, then he can get tense.

  5. Going to have to put this on our list! We live in Ottawa so a bit far but … who knows!

    1. It’s a pretty cool festival. Combine it with a weekend wine tour in Niagara….

  6. Dances With Cats · · Reply

    (Sorry if this posts twice; I think my original comment disappeared during the login process.)

    Thanks for sharing these tips. It’s really important for people to understand that the level of responsibility and preparation for taking a dog to a street or music festival is almost as high as the prep level needed for bringing human children. Anyone who follows these tips will be setting their dogs up for success during an occasion that could potentially be very stressful for both person and dog.

    1. Thank you and good points. I’ve been doing it for a while so it’s kind of becoming second nature … however I do seem to forget poop bags often. Fortunately, other dog owners seem to have extra.

  7. Great ideas. I don’t think a lot of people think about the level of supervision required to be a responsible dog parent at big events like music festivals or street festivals, so thanks for sharing your tips for setting your dog up for success during these events.

    1. Supervision is a good term. Take my eyes of this little toddler for a second and he’s eaten something weird on the sidewalk…

  8. Great tips!

  9. Thanks for sharing this information. I love seeing what other countries are doing so it always gives me ideas for projects and events back home🐶🐶 enjoy your festival!

  10. We love festivals!!! Most of the fairs aren’t dog friendly but we’ve found other events that are.

    1. Because it is essentially downtown on the streets, it would be hard to say no dogs… actually they don’t say no to much. And yet, it’s not a free for all.

Thanks for reading! Let us know what you think...

%d bloggers like this: