We were in Dacula working with a New Home Dog Training client and her two-year-old Rottweiler named Derby. The major problem that they were experiencing with Derby was that he was extremely energetic. Because of his high energy, Derby was being allowed to do whatever he wanted. This meant he believed that he “was the boss of the family” and didn’t have to obey any rules except the ones that he made up for himself.
The good news was that Derby was very attentive when we began to expose him to our canine behavior training techniques. Like a light switch being tossed, he quickly became obedient to our commands and focused on our direction. Our clients quickly learned what they needed to do to finally establish their leadership with Derby.
Within a few hours Derby respectfully accepted his new, subservient role within the family dynamics. He now was willing to provide our clients with the respect and focus that they, as his leader and caregiver, required.
The final question that our clients posed during our session was in regard to playing with Derby in the July heat. They had just moved down from Canada and weren’t used to the summer temperatures we experience down here in Georgia. They had been checking out the internet and had found articles warning that dogs can be impacted by heat far faster with a greater negative impact than humans. They asked us for some tips.
We started off by telling them that heat at any time of the year can be detrimental for our dogs. It is important to understand that dogs and humans regulate body heat using different methods.
We (humans) perspire when we get hot. We will notice that, when outside on a very warm day, our clothes become drenched with sweat and beads of sweat run down our forehead. Air movement over the perspiration on our skin will create a cooling process and will allow our body to cool down. The great news about this is that we sweat “all over our body”.
The news isn’t so great for our dogs. If you notice your dog on a hot day, they will be panting. Their mouth will be wide open, and their tongue will be sticking out. For them, the air movement over their moist tongue is the only method they have to cool down their body on a hot day.
To put this in different terms, we have “central air conditioning” throughout our entire house to keep us cool. Our dog is trying to keep the entire house cool with one, small “window air conditioner” in a far bedroom. Our dog has a far more difficult time in keeping cool than us on the same, summer day.
In light of this major “cooling discrepancy”, we need to take additional precautions during the hot, summer months when playing outside with our dog. Robin and I suggest the following:
- Make the outside playtime with your dog before 11:00 AM in the morning and after 7:00 PM in the evening. These are times when the sun is lower in the sky and outside the time of the “mid-day” heat. Play for no more than twenty minutes between rest and hydration breaks.
- Assure that your dog is always well hydrated. If he doesn’t go for the water during breaks, freshen the water with “refrigerator cold” water. Drop some ice cubes in the water bowl and splash your fingers in the water to encourage him to have a little drink.
- If you happen to have a pool in the back yard, encourage your dog to jump into the pool. (Yes, I know that your filter is going to get dog hair. Cleaning the filter a little more often is far better than having an overheated dog.) Play fetch with him while he is in the pool and encourage him to hang out on one of the shallow end steps. This allows him to play while constantly cooling himself off.
- If your dog likes the water and you don’t have a pool, pull out your garden hose and create a rain shower for him. Most dogs love to “run through the water” and you will probably see him jumping up to try and “eat the rain drops”. Make sure that you run the hose for a bit to get all the “hot water” out of the hose before you turn it on your dog.
- Play in areas that are grassy, cool and (if possible) shady. Try to avoid areas covered in concrete or asphalt. These areas can become very hot. If you have to play on these surfaces, stoop down low and place your entire palm on the surface. If it is too hot, don’t play there.
- Make sure that for every active game you may play with him, the next game is calmer in nature. For example, you may initially play fetch with him and then groom him for a little bit.
- Short snouted dogs have a higher tendency towards heat exhaustion than long snouted dogs (Pug vs Lab). Because of that, be extra careful and vigilant when playing with your short snouted dog outside. Shorten your outside play times to earlier in the morning and later in the evening.
- It is fine to include some quiet outside time with your dog during the day in addition to your regular outside playtime. The key to this is that you need to manage this time appropriately. Go outside and find a cool, shady area. Have him next to you and read a book. Make sure that he has a bowl of cold water and a favorite play toy to keep himself occupied.
- Finally, always make sure that you have fresh water for him when you return inside. This will allow him to re-hydrate, if needed.
Please call or text us at (770) 718-7704 if you need any dog training help. You can also email us at [email protected]. We are blessed to have been your local dog training experts for over eighteen years. We have trained over 6,000 wonderful dogs and excellent families and are ready to help you.