With race season upon us, it seemed like the perfect time to address a topic that comes up frequently – bringing your dog to a triathlon or any public event for that matter.  While it sounds like a really good idea to bring Fido along with you,  I wonder if it is always  in everyone’s best interest.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m the biggest dog lover in the world and have 2-65 pounders of my own, but I’m not sure I would haul them along to one of my husband’s races.  I’ve seen enough dogs at races panting and looking very stressed to wonder if it’s where they belong and in their best interest.  So, I decided it might be a good idea to look at some factors you should consider before making the decision and offer some tips for making life easier all around if you still choose to bring Fido, because I know a lot of you will.  So much is just common sense, so PLEASE use it……


  • Make sure you know the temperament of your dog in all situations.  There will be tons of people around of all ages, other dogs, it may be very hot, and it will be crowded and noisy.  You need to know how your pet will react in these situations to avoid any issues.  Ask yourself if your pet will be comfortable at the race or happier in his bed at home.

They look very content to be at home…

  • Please remember that not everyone loves your dog like you do.  There are people who are genuinely afraid of dogs and others who have allergies.  You need to be considerate of the people around you and act accordingly.
  • Consider the race distance.  Sprints and Olympics pass quickly, so should not be as much of an issue.  A full Ironman, on the other hand, makes for a VERY long day for everyone.
  • Consider the weather.  Is it too hot, too cold, raining?
  • Remember that not all races go off as planned.  There can be equipment and medical issues with your triathlete that will require your attention.  How will you handle your pet while you are attending to other issues?
  • The age of the pet should be considered.  It’s probably best to leave puppies under 6 months  – older if they are still rambunctious and not fully trianed – and elderly dogs at home.
  • Don’t consider the event an opportunity to socialize your pet.  This should be done in a controlled environment that is not overwhelming.


  • As races are on weekends, most vet offices will be closed in the event of an emergency.  So, check ahead for the location and phone number of an emergency vet’s office in the area.  Best to be prepared rather than scrambling in an emergency.
  • DO NOT leave a dog in the car!!!!
  • Make sure your dog has a collar on WITH ID tags in the event you get separated.  I can’t stress this enough.  If they are chipped, all the better.

Dog tag id’s are a MUST…

  • You need to be an advocate for your dog, which means not letting people, especially children do him harm.
  • DO NOT USE A RETRACTABLE LEASH.  You need to keep your pet next to you on a lead.  This will allow you to have better control.  Along this same line, make sure they are leash trained.
  • Keep an eye out for the environment around you and don’t let your pet get into trash thrown on the ground.
  • Stay in tune with how your dog is reacting and watch for signs of stress.  Be prepared to leave early if need be or at minimum, get him out of the situation.
  • Make sure an adult handles the pet and not children, especially young children.
  • Pack a kit just for your dog.  Include doggie waste bags, a container for water – you can buy a collapsible, travel bowl –  some treats, chew toys, and play toys.  Consider taking an umbrella for shade in case you can’t find any.

Travel bag necessities if you’re bringing your dog.

  • Check for restaurants in the area that allow pets or have an outside patio, especially if it’s a full Ironman.
  • We also found some great tips for taking your dog in a car, on TravelingMom, that keeps them safe and the humans happy.

Hopefully, armed with these considerations and tips, you will make an informed decision on whether it’s the best idea to bring your dog along to the event.  We just want everyone, including your pet, to be happy and safe……