Then I got a dog, and all that changed. Hot and humid weather is really tough on dogs, more so than folks think. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve seen people jogging with their dog in weather that is simply too hot for the dog. Remember, dogs can’t sweat enough to keep cool on hot days. They’re wearing a fur coat, after all, and only sweat through their paws. In fact, dogs rely on panting to help cool themselves, so if you are walking your dog on a hot day, keep an eye on their tongue. You don’t want to see your dog’s tongue hanging out, looking larger and longer than normal. That’s an indication your dog is getting too hot.
So what can you do with your dog on those hot summer days?
Here are my top 4 go-to’s for my dogs!
1. One of the games that my dogs love is to find treats that I’ve hidden throughout the house. I put the dogs in a room where they can’t see me and then I put several treats throughout a room, making sure to use treats that aren’t greasy. And, I put the treats on something that I won’t mind having some dog saliva on it. Most of the time I put a treat on coffee table books, the base of an end table, near a table leg, on the floor right inside a doorway, on a chair, and the arm of the couch. I don’t put any treats where my dog has to jump up so the treats are placed anywhere from their nose height and below.
2. One of the greatest inventions ever made – a licki mat. You can smear on it anything soft that the dog likes to eat. I tend to use peanut butter (unsweetened), bananas, and/or Stella & Chewy’s canned dog food. You can also prepare a licki mat in advance and freeze it.
3. Water activities can be good, too. Dawson loves to swim in the pool so much that I have to monitor him in really hot weather because he would swim until he dropped from exhaustion. If your dog is obsessed with swimming like Dawson is, you should check out the fabulous sport of Dock Diving. Here’s a video of my friend’s whippet, Bear, at a dock diving competition – he jumped 30 feet! **NOTE: Not all dogs are comfortable swimming and may feel safer wearing a doggy life jacket. They might be more like Jones who thinks running through a sprinkler is great fun!**
4. A “Manners-Minder Remote Trainer” – There’s a target and a remote controlled, treat dispensing machine. The dog learns that if they touch the target, a treat magically appears from the treat dispensing machine. I do about 15-20 reps where I place the treat dispensing machine in one place and move around the target stick. I vary the distance between the treat dispensing machine and the target stick, putting the target stick in another room, up the stairs, etc. I move the target stick while they are getting the treat so there are times they have to search for the target stick. This exercise really wears them out!