Why and How to Invite your Dog to a Cookout

The gap of  time between Memorial Day and Labor Day (which includes the 4th of July) is prime time for BBQ’s and grilling out. You may ask, “Aren’t those things the same?” Over the years, charcoal and propane fanatics who enjoy a good outdoor cooked meal have morphed the terms into one thing, and depending on where you live in the nation, it could be called either… or both! However, the real answer is, they are not really the same thing, they just occur in similar places.

According to foodfirefriends.com, although both activities involve being outdoors and having a heat source that is ignitable, they have different definitions. Grilling is “hot, direct, quick cooking” placed over your heat source, and if you BBQ it’s actually “offset indirect heat” often accomplished by having 2-zones setup on your grill. BBQ is “low and slow” and grilling is faster and hotter.

The Stats Behind the Love of Grilling

Just to give you all an idea of the popularity of cooking outside on a grill, consider that 20 million new grills were sold in 2020 alone, adding to or replacing the over 100 million grills at homes across the nation. 60% of US households own at least one grill, and that is 75 million households (so, yes, some households have multiple grills). This does not include grills in parks, restaurants, festivals or other places where people gather to partake in charred or smoked meat. Our country is all in on cooking outside, in fact we even throw parties and celebration around the love of making meals on a grill. They love it so much that in a recent survey by prnewswire.com, they found that 8 out of 10 people enjoy having an old fashioned BBQ dinner with friends and family more than going to a restaurant.

The fight for BBQ and grilling supremacy in this nation is an all out war, with towns like Kansas City and Memphis laying claim to the best BBQ in the world, only to be challenged by Texas, North Carolina, Florida and other states that think they are the best in class. The only real difference between them… the type of meat that is featured, the sauce they serve on or with it, and the unique differences in the technique to create the one-of-a-kind flavor each local offers.

So what does this have to do with my dog?

It’s a fair question, after all dogs love meat of any kind and cooking outdoors is going to bring out the begging in most fur kids. But more goes into cooking outdoors that roasting a piece of meat. Rubs, injections, seasonings, sauces and flavorings are not on the approved list for your pups. In fact, they can have large amounts of garlic, onion, and other seasonings that are bad for your dogs health. The heavy seasoning is only one potential problem with your fuzzy buddy being the honored guest at the picnic. The folks at mypetsneedthat.com came up with this nifty list of Safety Tips for grilling around your pets.

5 Safety Tips for Grilling in Households with Pets

  • Don’t Let your Dog Handle the Grilling

    Tools used in the act of grilling out are almost all sharp and metal. Consider that spatula’s, grill forks, tongs, meat thermometers, even the grill grates, all come with the flavor of whatever is cooking once the cooking process has started. If your dog happens upon those (or steals them… we’re not saying your dog is bad or a felon, but they are little kleptomaniacs over food), they can lick or chew the good smelling utensils and cut, swallow, burn, or otherwise hurt themselves. We would advise a 2 to 4 foot “NO ZONE” which should be pet and kids free. In addition, keep your tools in a bucket, container, or chest that is out of reach and not capable of being opened by paws, noses, teeth and small hands.

  • Don’t Let your Dog Get Choked Up Over Dinner

    Dog’s don’t think before they eat… and swallow. In fact, a dog on the run with a piece of hot meat is going to chew and swallow while they escape. Anything to keep “the law” from getting that meat treat away from them before they can enjoy and digest it. A dogs windpipe is only so wide and almost anything can obstruct it (that’s why kibble is so small, not the size of a rib, chicken leg, or t-bone steak). Your dog also has no idea what is good for them, only what smells good TO them.  An entire smoked chicken… your dog says, “yes please” to bones and all. Even chicken skin, cartilage, or a bone can lodge in your dogs throat. Splintered bones can also wreak havoc on a dogs stomach and digestive tract. Bones can be deadly in the wrong hands… or mouth. So be sure the bone disposal process at your home is well thought out and followed.

    To take it a step further, it’s not just meat… dog’s love just about anything they can get their mouths on. Corn cobs, a whole carrot, watermelon rind, and other seemingly innocent foods, can turn into devices to choke your pooch.  Plastic, lidded, containers are your best friend in keeping your pets out of the food and on their best behavior. Having a “no zone” around the food serving area is also a great idea to assure pet safety. Nobody wants the fun day to be ruined by someone force to deliver the Heimlich Maneuver to your fur buddy.

  • The Smeller is actually NOT the Feller

    Keep in mind that the grill stays hot for quite some time once the food has been taken off and made ready to serve. In addition, the smells stay WONDERFUL for your pet long after you’ve turned to walk away and place the platter at the service station. A dog standing up on hind legs, with front paws on the grill, is a recipe for several horrible dishes. Burnt Paws, Flaming Fur, Hot Hound, and Overcooked Puppers are NOT dishes you want to offer. Again, we suggest having that “NO ZONE” to keep the grill from being turned over, making the coals and grilling items “red hot projectiles” dumped on the ground, or anyone standing around… furry or flesh.  Even though it’s a pain logistically, having a cook area, a serve area, and eating areas are a great idea… along with the precautions of plastic lidded containers, some barrier around the grill, and creation of monitored “NO ZONE” areas for the food.

  • Train Your Guests in Doggie Etiquette

    The biggest mistake most pet owners make is not having a communicated and understood list of “Rules for You and My Dog”.  The dog lives in the home, in fact they are likely treated as family (better than family, like Royalty), and guests are just that “GUESTS” who are visiting. People entering your home should understand and respect the dog’s routines, rules, and property.  If your dog is not allowed table scraps, that has to be an enforced rule. If your dog is allowed on the furniture, then don’t care what Uncle Bernie thinks about it. Make sure you have communicated to your guests that you have dogs that will interact with them… so if someone has issues with that idea, or allergies, or is a giant buzz kill over what a dog SHOULD be (in their opinion) they can clear steer of your outing. Dog’s rule, so follow the dogs rules.

    This should include what the guests can and can’t feed the dog. You don’t have to be a dictator about it, but you do need to set the pace and offer the rules in a casual manner. Let them know about the “NO ZONES”, tell them about choking hazards, inform them that your dog is a furry Thespian and will beg for any scraps like the orphans in Oliver Twist (“Sir, may a have bit MORE”). Also assure they understand what will choke the dog, what foods are not good for the dog, and what they are allowed to sneak to the dog (which they all will sneak bites). Explain portion sizes, NO GO foods, the amount of snacking that is allowable before they should cut the snacking out completely.  Let them know that fatty and rich foods are likely to give your dog loose poops or diarrhea, and feeding your dog large amounts of it could (and will) put them on the poop cleanup detail. You need to know, assure, and be comfortable with what your dog is eating. Lastly, keep an eye on little ones… they are the #1 target for your dog to sneak snacks. Kids enjoy feeding dogs, dogs enjoy being fed, your dog can likely overpower a small child and steal their food (which can happen in a heartbeat). Be comfortable with the idea that, as hard as you try, your fur kids are going to overeat. Just try to set rule that assure its safe, controlled, and understood that some things are unacceptable.

  • Listen Old Mother Hubbard, Give your Poor Dog a Break

    “And then the poor dog had none” is not the intended solution here. We’ve clarified no bones, controlled portions, know what your eating, know the stuff in the stuff your prepare, keep them safe by creating “NO ZONES”, use your plastic containers, and inform your guest who rules the home and what is allowable. Even with all that in place, you’re dog is gonna eat, we promise you. Through hook, crook, begging, and great theatrics, your dog is going to get food. And why wouldn’t they?  It’s just cruel to take all the fun and flavor out of a good grill out or BBQ for your pets. Know the bad foods list and assure they don’t get large portions of those item. Conversely, make it a point to share the good flavors and tastes with your best friend… you know they deserve it.

    Remember that large crowds of people can be fun, but it can also be stressful for a dog. Strange and loud noises, different smelling people, the sense of strong emotions that groups bring, strange hands reaching for them, kids and grown ups in their space or face, it is all stressful and difficult for any dog. Keep and keen eye on your dog and look for signs of stress, acting out, being overly tired, people that they just don’t seem to jive with, and people that are just not into your dog. Watch for overheating, over eating, over stimulated, or over whelmed puppies and them to a safe and quiet place for a bit. Assure there is fresh water for them to refresh themselves. Know your dogs limitations and don’t let them get near those levels. A dog nipping someone, biting someone, jumping on old Aunt Alice and knocking her to the ground, will turn the mood sour in a moment.

    Give your dog a break if they act out, correct them in your normal manner, sequester them if needed. Don’t yell at them, don’t scold them, and don’t physically punish them… and don’t EVER let anyone else do it. The first person who yells at or hits a dog will be the first person to leave and never come back.  The thing to remember is that, to the dog, this is all strange… maybe strange and wonderful… but strange. You need to control the dog in the environment, or separate them from it if it become too much. Just be the person your dog knows you are.

Bad Food List

Sauces, Avocado or Guacamole, Grapes/Raisins, Onions, Chocolate, Excessive Salt, Xylitol (found in most commercial peanut butters), Garlic, Corn on the Cob (don’t hold the cob and let them chew it off, one slip-up and cute photo op turns into a medical emergency), Bones of any kind, and Alcohol. If Uncle Bud thinks its hilarious to give the dog a drink of beer, he needs to GO!

It may appear that we are taking the fun out of the event, but these rules and precautions are no more strict or limiting than what you would make for a human baby or toddler. Your fur kids are just four legged, probably more mature, likely better beggars, and definitely more sneaky, than your kids or grand-kids. Take the time to make them safe in their home… and if you take them to someone else’s home, be sure you know the rules in that new environment (and don’t be afraid to impose the rules for your dog on everyone at that location… you would for your human child).

Armed with these tips, tricks, rules, and suggestions, we believe you can now boldly step forward into the world of grilling and BBQ’ing with your dog in tow. You know that your pet will be the life of the party and add to the overall enjoyment for all. (you can also go armed with the knowledge of the difference between a BBQ and Grilling Out… look at the big brain on Dog Mom & Dad!)

All of us on the FreddieSez team wish you the happiest summer memories and fantastic sunny times with your pets. Use the “fun in the sun” to take the fur kids on everything from trailing, to beach walks, to camping adventures this summer. There are very few places in this new Pet Friendly world that you dog is not welcomed, so take full advantage of the freedom and include your very best fur friend in your adventures.

We hope you enjoyed this weeks Dog Blog, and will join us again next week as we find another unique topic, hidden gem, or “must know” tidbit surrounding the world of pets. Till we see you then, have a safe July, keep the pets clear of those pesky fireworks, provide a cool and comfortable surrounding in the summer heat, enjoy those cookouts… and always be Pet Friendly! #FreddieSez