We were in Alpharetta working with a New Home Dog Training client and her two year old Rottweiler named Pedro. Pedro was a very high energy dog and that was causing most of their problems. He needed to understand rules and who was the boss because it appeared that he thought he was in charge. The good news was that he was very attentive to our training and our clients were excellent in doing their part to establish their leadership. By the end of the session, Pedro understood his role in the family and gave our clients the respect and focused they required. The last question that our clients asked us that day concerned playing with Pedro in the summer heat. They had just moved down from Maine and weren’t used to the summer temperatures we experience down here in the South. They had heard that dogs can be impacted by heat far faster with a greater negative impact than humans. They asked us for some tips.
We first told our clients that heat at any time of the year can be detrimental for our dogs. Perspiration is the way that our body regulates it’s temperature and allows us to survive. Humans perspire through our skin. This gives us the ability to easily regulate our body temperature. Our dog perspires through his mouth in the form of panting. This is far less effective in regulating the dog’s temperature and will put him at risk in the summer heat far before we even think there could be a problem.
As dog owners, we need to take extra precautions during the hot, summer months when playing outside with our dog. Robin and I suggest the following:
- Play outside with your dog before 10AM in the morning and after 7:30PM in the evening while the sun and temperatures are low. You shouldn’t play for more than 20 minutes without taking a break.
- Make sure your dog is always well hydrated. Put the water right in front of him and splash it around if he doesn’t want to drink.
- If you have a pool, play with your dog in the pool. Throw a ball in the pool to have him jump in and retrieve it. This helps keeping him cool
- If your dog likes the water and you don’t have a pool, use your hose to crate a rain shower so he can jump up and try to “eat the rain drops”. Turn the hose on for a bit so that all the hot water will get out and it will only be nice and cool water that will be raining on your dog.
- Play on grassy, cool surfaces. Concrete or asphalt get too hot too fast. If you have to play on these surfaces, get down and put your entire palm on the surface to check it’s temperature.
- Mix up your the games that you are playing with your dog with active games and then passive activities. This would be like playing fetch 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, take extra precautions when playing with your short snouted dog outside. Play only during the late evening on days when it is really hot.
- It is perfectly fine to have some quiet, outside time during the day if you manage it properly. Quiet time bonding is also a very important part of your relationship with your dog. Maybe you just go outside and sit in the shade and read a book. He can be next to you with a bowl of water and toy.
- When you and your dog come inside, always make sure that he has some water to re-hydrate.
Heat exhaustion is a very serious issue for all dogs in the summer. Please call Robin or me at (770) 718-7704 if you need any dog training help. We are blessed to have been your local dog training experts for over fourteen years. We have trained over 5,000 great dogs and loving families and are ready to help you.