We have rounded the corner into hot humid weather like Usain Bolt running for Gold in the Olympics! It’s important to remember that with that heat comes risk for heat stroke and other heat-related injuries to our furry family members.
Here are some tips on ways to keep your dog both entertained and tired out when the mercury is rising:
Be smart with the timing of your walks. Get your dog out for his or her long walk in early morning or evening hours, when temperatures and the sun are lower. In addition to potential heat stroke that can strike during the hottest parts of the day, the pavement can also heat up quickly and paw pads can burn. Both of these issues are easy to avoid with some planning.
Play Games Indoors. While physical exercise is great, mental stimulation also tires out an active pooch – set up training games in the house.
- Hide and seek is a great game. Have one owner with Fido while the other person hides in another room. Call Fido to come, and if needed encourage him along the way with some rapidly repeated notes like “pup pup pup”. Praise, pet and treat him when he finds you.
- The Family Circle Game is one of our favorites. Have everyone in the family form a large circle. Have one person call Fido to come. Praise and treat (use very small, yummy treats!) as he gets to you. As soon as he does have another person call Fido to come, and continue to repeat. You can make the circle as large as you want. This is also a great training tool for recalls.
- Obstacle courses are fun and easy too. Set up stations and plan to do certain exercises at each station. An example would be to set up four chairs in a parallel line. Heel with Fido to chair #1 and ask for a sit and down. Move to chair #2 and place your dog on a down stay while you move to chair #3, then call him to come. At chair #4 practice your “leave it” cue. Heel back to chair one while weaving between the chairs. Repeat several times and mix up the cues you practice at each chair…be creative!
Teach New Tricks. For many years, I found that when weather kept me indoors with my dogs I would take the time to teach new tricks. I was really surprised to see firsthand that even as little as ten minutes of training a new trick could tire my dog out as if we had taken a vigorous 20 minute walk outdoors. We teach a great Tricks Class where you can learn lots of new tricks to add to your repertoire.
Freeze those Kongs! It’s true – for dogs, chewing is a natural stress-busting activity. Chewing leads to the release of calming hormones, so simply put, chewing makes dogs feel good. Dogs that chew regularly have access to a great, natural way of self-soothing. Chew toys and Kongs are also a useful way to keep dogs busy, divert them into some quiet time or encourage them to stay on their bed or in a crate.
Once your dog is familiar with getting treats from his Kong, start to fill them with canned dog food and freeze them. It’s like a popsicle for dogs and it can take them quite a while to clean it out!
Learn a new skill you can practice at home. Consider taking a new class with Fido that will teach your new skill sets to add to your toolbox at home. Agility, Nose Games and Tricks are all great classes, and you can take what you learn and easily transition to practicing pieces of those dog sports at home to keep your dog busy and entertained.
So be sure to enjoy all these wonderful days of summer with you dog – and find ways to enjoy time outside (when the weather isn’t too hot) and as well as inside (on days when the weather isn’t fully cooperating). Be creative and have fun – and you will never run out of ideas or options!