We were in Roswell last Tuesday working with a new Home Dog Training client and her two-year old Lab. Our client was experiencing the regular “Labrador issues” such as not listening, being nuts when people come to the door, pulling on the leash, etc. We love trainings like this because we can show such a difference with the dog in just a few hours. Needless to say, our client was very happy with the results and excited about implementing the techniques that we taught her that day. As we were finishing up, I mentioned about it being so unseasonably hot the last week or so.
She agreed and then remembered that she had one more question. Two-year old Labrador Retrievers love to play and have a lot of energy. She said that she has always had dogs before, but was concerned about it being so hot and allowing Blue Bell (her Lab’s name) out in the back yard to play. She asked what she should do to make sure that Blue Bell had the opportunity to get the play time she needed while making sure she was safe outside.
I told her that just about everything I was going to tell her was common sense. It is OK to have our dog out in the yard and play in the summer heat if we always focus on how the temperature is impacting our dog. To be honest, we follow the same process with our kids and ourselves when out on a hot day. Here are some of the suggestions I provided her:
- Only go outside with your dog in the early morning or early evening. This is when the sun is lowest in the sky and the temperature isn’t so stifling. If you have to be outside in the middle of the day, limit it to 30 minutes or less.
- Try to be outside when there is cloud cover and a breeze. These two things provide a temporary respite to the heat of the day.
- “Fun outside” does not always mean “running around like a nut”. Put a long lead on your dog and calmly walk around to his favorite places and encourage him to smell the grass and plants. Hide some of his goodies around the yard and play a game of “Find the Goodies”. Sitting in a chair on the porch (out of the sun) is a great bonding experience for both you and your dog.
- Always be sure to hydrate yourself and your dog. Have a water bottle available for you and your dog (It is OK to share). There are some “really cool” water bottle/dispensers that you can get at the pet stores for your dog.
- Stay in the shade as much as you can.
- If you are on concrete or a “hard surface”, put your hand on the surface to determine if it is too hot for your dog. If you wouldn’t want to walk barefoot on the surface, why do you think he would want to walk on it when he has no shoes?
- If possible, play in a pool, a lake, or a stream. Get in and out to make it fun.
- Keep the back door open (or even better the basement door) and take your games inside from time to time. This will allow you to cool off and then come outside again.
- If your dog begins to slow down, he is telling you he is done. Time to go inside
- Give your dog a big water bowl filled with cool water once you are back inside.
- Be extra careful with short-snouted dogs. Dog’s “perspire” by panting with their open mouth. As they pant, the air from their open mouth passes over their moist tongue to cool their body. When your dog has a short snout, they can not cool off as efficiently and as rapidly as long snouted dogs.
- If your dog appears unusually lethargic and listless, closely watch him for several hours. If this continues to be “really slow”, he might have “overdone it”. Call your veterinarian for advice.
- And here comes the “common sense” observation. If you start to feel hot, your dog is feeling hotter. Go inside…
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 professionals for over fifteen years. We have trained over 5,000 great dogs and loving families and are ready to help you.