Whether you live in the city or the suburbs, or even out in the sticks, barbecues are one of the events that define the summer months. Grilling chicken, burgers, or hotdogs with some delicious side dishes and cold drinks – what could be better on a lazy summer afternoon? Your dog thinks so, too!

If you’re one of the many Americans who will be cooking outside this summer, there are some things you can do to make your barbecue safer for your dog.

  • Be sure to secure gates to your yard before your guests arrive. Check them as guests arrive and leave and then once again after everyone leaves. You don’t want your dog to accidentally slip out of your yard during any confusion while people are coming and going.
  • If you’re expecting guests for a cookout, consider keeping your dog indoors. There are lots of potential accidents that can occur around a barbecue grill. Plus, some dogs have trouble controlling themselves when they see people trying to balance food in their laps. Your dog might get in trouble with your friends. If you know your dog has bad manners, keep him inside.
  • If your dog stays outside while you cook out, make sure you put away sharp objects such as barbecue forks. Put food wrappers in a covered trash container immediately so your dog won’t be tempted to eat them. And, be especially careful with any food, cooked or uncooked. Dogs are notorious for snatching food when you’re not looking. You could discover that your dog has stolen five pounds of hamburger meat for your burgers and eaten it before you even noticed it was missing.
  • If possible, put your dog on a long leash and put someone in charge of him. This way he’ll be part of the gathering without being able to get in trouble.
  • You can also keep your dog entertained – and your guests, too – with some fun games while everyone is waiting to eat. Consider providing your guests with a Frisbee or some other toys that your dog likes to play with. Your dog and your guests can have a lot of fun while you grill. These games can be especially fun if you or your guests have children.
  • Once everyone starts eating, don’t forget about your dog. The grill is still hot and dogs can easily burn their paws or muzzles trying to reach something that smells good.

If your dog has had some obedience training and he knows the “down-stay,” you can put him in a long down-stay outside with your guests. Remember to reward him for being good! It’s hard for a dog to resist the tempting aromas that come from the barbecue grill.

Most dogs love a happy gathering as much as people do. Add some food cooking over a fire, and your dog will be delighted when you barbecue. If you take the precautions suggested here, your dog should be safe when you cook out this summer.