I was in Gainesville last Thursday working with a new Home Dog Training client and her eighteen-month-old Vizsla named Jasper. Jasper’s biggest problem was that he was “a little crazy”. He hadn’t had any formal training and thought he could do whatever he wanted. Well, that had to stop.
After a few hours, I had taught my client how to be Jasper’s boss. Jasper now listened to and obeyed her commands. He also quickly understood what was acceptable behavior and what my client would not tolerate. Needless to say, my client was thrilled with the results. As we were finishing up, she had one more question.
It was a typical June day in Georgia. This meant that it was sunny and in the 80’s. Jasper, being a young and energetic Vizsla, wanted to be outside to run, play, smell, and explore. My client wanted to make sure he could do all these things, but was wondering if he would get overheated. What precautions should she take to keep him safe and still happy?
Summer is the season when the days are long, the temperature is hot, and we all want to get outside and have fun. That is all great to think, but when it is already eighty degrees by ten in the morning, the “fun” part of being outside may be greatly diminished. Because of the heat and air conditioning, we are spending more and more time inside.
Our dogs are spending more time inside too. We don’t do things like walk them as much, we don’t throw the Frisbee as much, we don’t “roll in the grass” as much. In many instances, we may be spending less time with our dogs outside in the summer than we did in the fall, winter, or spring.
It is important to maintain exercise and entertainment to maintain a healthy and well-behaved dog. I have recently noticed several of my clients who are keeping their dogs inside, without the needed “play time” and “exercise time”. The dogs start to misbehave and become “bored-destructive”. My clients think that they have bad dogs when they really have bored dogs. I suggested that my clients engage in “safe, outside, summer activities. I presented several options.
First, get up early and take your dog for a walk in the morning when it is cool. The sun is low and there is an overabundance of great “morning smells” for your dog to enjoy. Use a long leash or training lead so your dog has enough freedom to wander and explore.
Plan pool, lake, or river time. Depending on the shade, jump in the water with your dog for fifteen to twenty minutes. Have some floating catch toys that you can toss. Watch him carefully for any signs of exhaustion of fatigue. When you get out, go to a shady area, dry him off, and then give him some water. Just because he has been in the water, he will still be a little dehydrated from all the activity.
If you don’t have a fenced area that you can use as a play yard, get a strong rope, put some hooks on the ends, and find an open area with a tree. Attach one end of the rope to the tree and the other to your dog. I suggest that your dog is wearing his collar AND a harness. Attach the lead to both of these items. If your dog “runs a little too far”, the “stopping tug” from the lead will not harm him.
Throw the Frisbee or ball for him. If nothing else, just sit out there with him. Even if he isn’t going crazy, the pure event of being out with you is something I am positive your dog will love. Do this, of course, in the cool of the morning or evening. And be sure to provide plenty of water for hydration.
NEVER leave your dog outside in the summer heat unattended. Like all dumb humans, we will forget they are out there. Hours could go by with them in the sun, heat, and possibly without water.
I want to stress that we shouldn’t minimize our play time with our dog simply because of the heat. Entertainment is one of the key factors our dog requires. We must manage our play time to take the summer heat into consideration and create a safe environment for our dog’s needed exercise and socialized play.
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 seventeen years. We have trained over 5,000 great dogs and loving families and are ready to help you.