Dubbed ‘The Ultimate Summer Festival for Dogs’, DogFest is a celebration of our furry friends and the unique bond they have with us.
Therefore, it’s an absolute must for dogs, their owners and dog lovers alike.
Last year, DogFest came to Bristol for the first time. And it was such a hit that it’s back for a second year!
Based on our experience of attending the festival last year, here are our top tips for anyone attending DogFest Bristol 2019.
DogFest Bristol: Must Do Activities
Throughout the weekend, there are a bunch of activities that your dog (and you) can take part in.
From trying out agility courses, to dog races and walks, you’re sure to find something your dog will enjoy. And if not? No matter… you can just chill out and watch the other dogs, which is also a huge laugh.
Listed below are some of our favourite must-dos – please note that some of the activities listed below have a separate fee, which you can pay on the day.
1. Hay Bale Racing
If your dog is a bit of a speed freak, then you should put them through their paces in the hay bale race. They’ll be timed as they jump over a series of hay bale hurdles. Winners will be those with the fastest times at the end of the day.
2. Dog Diving
Do you have a dog that loves water? Then they’ll love jumping off the dog diving platforms into a huge pool of the stuff – especially if it’s a warm day.
3. The Great Dog Walk
Twice a day – at 11am and 3pm – you’ll have the chance to join thousands of dogs and their owners for a 2km or 4km walk around the stunning Ashton Court grounds. And one of the coolest things about it is that the dogs are led by either Noel Fitzpatrick – The Supervet himself – or major animal lover, Clare Balding.
In flyball, your dog will be tasked with jumping over hurdles before leaping onto a spring-loaded pad, which fires out a tennis ball. Although this activity is shown step-by-step at first, you may want to race your dog against others towards the end of the day if they particularly love it.
Whether your dog is already a whizz at agility or a complete beginner, a team of experts can show them (and you) the ropes. So… now there’s no excuse not to have your dog jumping, weaving, running and burrowing through tunnels in no time!
DogFest Bristol: Must See Shows, Events & Presentations
Alongside the ‘Have-A-Go’ activities at DogFest Bristol, there are also a bunch of shows and events you can watch and sometimes take part in. Here’s our roundup of some of the must-sees.
1. Expert Talks and Panel Discussions
One of the main goals of DogFest is not just to have fun, but also to educate. Throughout the weekend, there are plenty of talks and panel discussions about a range of dog friendly topics, which are presented from the Main Stage.
2. Dogs With Jobs
There are so many remarkable dogs in the world. And none more so is this true of dogs that work to guide the blind, sniff out drugs and apprehend criminals. The Dogs With Jobs show is your chance to see them in action, as well as speak with their trainers and meet the dogs themselves.
3. Hound Hangout
4. Fun Dog Show
If you’ve ever wanted your dog to come home with a brightly coloured rosette, then the Fun Dog Show might be the time for them to do it. There are lots of different shows your dog can enter – whether it’s to be named the coolest puppy, friendliest dog, the one with the best hairdo or even ‘Best in Show’. There’s a small fee to enter your dog but it’s a bunch of fun, with rosettes going to First, Second and Third Places.
Last year, Kai came 2nd Place in the ‘Cool Pup’ competition – we were so proud!
This year, we’re entering him for ‘Friendliest Dog’ and ‘Most Fabulous Fella’ – wish him luck!
DogFest Bristol: Parking & Transport
As part of your ticket fee, you’ll gain access to ample free parking onsite at Ashton Court Estate. You’ll want to use the postcode: BS3 2JT.
If you’re not driving, you can also catch the train. The Parson Street station is about 2 miles from Ashton Court Estate, which has trains running from Bristol Temple Meads station throughout the day.
DogFest Bristol: Tips For Dog Owners
Planning on visiting DogFest Bristol 2019? Here are our top tips based on our experience going to DogFest last year.
#1. Remember to take frequent breaks from the sun
Be sure to give your dog (and you) plenty of shady breaks throughout the day. There are shaded tents throughout the DogFest arena, however, they often become crowded.
You can also leave the arena and settle under one of the many trees that are around the Ashton Court grounds – just show your hand stamp to get back into DogFest when you’ve finished having a break.
#2. Make a note of where the water stations and paddling pools are when you arrive
With so many dogs, people and activities going on, the water stations and paddling pools can sometimes be hidden from view.
When we visited in 2018, the paddling pools were on the other side of the festival arena from where we came in, alongside some taps nearby as well. There were also water stations to the right of the festival entrance.
Our advice would be to take your own water with you to begin with and scout out the water stations as soon as you arrive when it’s likely to be a bit quieter. It’ll save you from searching high and low later on.
#3. Take your own water bowl in case your dog gets fussy
In case your dog is like ours and refuses to drink from bowls that have been used and slobbered in by other dogs, we’d recommend packing your own water bowl.
#4. Fill up water bottles before getting back in the car as you may struggle with leaving…
No matter what time you leave, you’re likely to be sitting in your car for a long time trying to exit.
Last year, we left in the middle of the afternoon – way before closing time – and were caught in a traffic jam trying to get out for well over 30 minutes.
To protect you all from a sweaty traffic jam, make sure you’ve filled up all your water bottles before leaving DogFest.
#5. Remember that DogFest may be cancelled if temperatures are excessively hot
DogFest prides itself in being a fun event, but also a safe one.
If temperatures are forecast to be particularly high, then the event could be cancelled at fairly short notice. Just take a look at what happened at DogFest South last year:
We recommend quickly checking the DogFest website or Twitter feed before leaving your house to make sure the event is still running. If it’s not, you’ll get a full refund but will also save yourself the car journey.
#6. Consider the temperament of your dog before attending
Not all dogs are dog lovers.
Not all dogs are fans of large crowds.
You know your dog better than anyone.
If you have even the slightest concern about how he or she might behave, then our recommendation would be to consider staying home.
The warm weather combined with crowds and stimulating environment is enough to drive even the calmest dog a bit crazy.
We mainly saw a lot of very friendly dogs last year, however, there was an episode we caught in the middle of the day where a dog bit another one. The owner was super surprised, so just please, be on your guard for any signs of distress in your dog or those around you.
If your dog needs a break, then just take them for a calming walk in the Ashton Court grounds before coming back in. Heck… even if you need a break, take one!
Please note that all dogs are kept on leads throughout the event apart from when they’re taking part in the activities and shows.
We hope this helps prepare you for your visit to DogFest Bristol 2019. Do you have any other questions? Let us know via the comments below and we’ll do our best to answer them…