We were in Atlanta on Saturday with a new Home Dog Training client and his Pug, Chloe. Our client’s main concern was the fact that Chloe just didn’t want to listen. This caused the little Pug to run out the front door and never wanting to come in from the backyard. Within a few hours we had completely eliminated the problem of the dog running out the front door and had established a lesson plan to have Chloe come in from the back yard on command. Our client was very happy with the results and Chloe was completely exhausted from all the time we spent working with her. As we were finishing up for the day, I had one more topic I wanted to cover with my client. Even though he had not mentioned this as a concern, I noticed that when we were outside, Chloe was overly active. When we came inside, I noticed her panting heavily and when I picked her up, she was rather warm. One would not think that overheating would be a factor for dogs in the fall, even in Georgia. When I learned that my client was getting ready to spend several months in his home in Naples, Florida, I knew I had a topic I needed to discuss.
When you get right down to it, we humans are self-centered, narcissistic, demanding creatures. I am sorry if that makes you sad, but that is just a fact of life. We were this way when we were born and our parents did their best to try and break these personality traits so that we could someday be “good people”. As we can all attest, this has worked better for some people than others. The point that I am trying to make is that we naturally tend to focus on ourselves and our needs than others.
We think the temperature is fine outside so when we are walking out the door, we rebuke our friends for stopping and getting a sweater. We aren’t hungry, so why should we stop the car to get something to eat for the passengers. It is only another mile to the top of the hill, let’s keep going!
We need to understand that even though the outside temperature feels cool and wonderful for us, it still could pose a risk for our dogs.
The problem arises due to the different methods our body maintains its temperature versus how our dog’s body maintains its temperature. When we get hot, we sweat through our skin. The hotter we get, the more we sweat over a larger part of our body. The sweat, acting with the air, helps to cool down our skin and our bodies. We also have on protective clothing, hats, etc. that also help to counteract the impact of overheating.
Our dogs do not sweat in the same way we do. Their body’s mechanism to cool off is their mouth and their panting. The drool in their mouth and the moisture on the tongue are their tools to maintain a cool body temperature. This is far less effective than our “sweating like a pig” and can easily become overwhelmed in extreme temperatures or hyperactivity.
Now, I come to my client and Chloe, his little Pug. A Pug is a short nose dog bread. These dogs tend to have breathing problems due to issues with their trachea. They also tend to overheat at less extreme conditions due to the decreased ability to adjust for heat because of the smaller mouth area. As I mentioned earlier, I observed Chloe panting and slightly snorting when she came inside. When I picked her up, her body seemed warmer than normal to the touch. These factors caused me to believe she was slightly overheated. If she had stayed outside playing and running around for a longer time, she could have experienced a more severe problem.
So, what could my client do to help prevent such a problem?
- First, he needs to understand that he has a dog that is prone to overheating even when it might seem like the weather is fine. He needs to be extra observant and vigilant.
- Call Chloe to him every five minutes of play time. Pick Chloe up to make sure she is not hot. If she is, it is time to go inside for a bit.
- If Chloe isn’t warm to the touch, hold her anyway for a few minutes just to let her calm down and deadrenalize.
- Make sure Chloe has plenty of water to drink and call her to the water bowl every few minutes. Make sure the water is clean and has ice cubes.
- I told my client to have a squirt bottle filled with cool water. Have the squirt bottle set to “mist”. Every time he calls Chloe over to him, give her a spray to help cool her fur.
- Even if he thinks everything is fine, still give Chloe a rest break after 20 minutes and don’t resume play for ten minutes.
For “big nosed dogs” such as Labradors, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Springier Spaniels, etc., I suggest that there is always water available. I (personally) like to have a “watering hole” available where the dogs can just jump in and cool off.
Being observant of your dog at all times will help assure a long, healthy, and happy relationship.
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