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Monday, May 13, 2013

Playing With Your Dog Outside in Summer Heat

Yes, I know that it is never "cold" down here in South Florida, but it really starts to get nasty into the summer months.  Should I change the way I play with Wolfie during this time?



In a very quick and simple answer, "yes".  The most important factor that should be taken into consideration is the summer heat.  Perspiration is the way that our body regulates it's temperature to stay healthy and survive.  We perspire through our skin.  This gives us a very large ability to regulate our body temperature.  Wolfie perspires through his mouth; panting.  This affords a far less opportunity for body temperature regulation in extreme situations (hot South Florida summer day).

Because of this, we have to take extra precautions during the hot, summer months when playing outside with Wolfie.  Here are some tips:

  • Only play outside before 9AM in the morning and 7:30PM in the evening as the sun is low on the horizon.  Never play for more than 15 minutes without taking a break.
  • Always have plenty of water for Wolfie.  Even if he seems uninterested, guide him to the water from time to time.  Make it a game and splash the water in the bowl to get his attention.
  • If you have a pool and Wolfie enjoys the water, throw the ball in the pool to have him jump in and retrieve it.  This will naturally cool him off.
  • If Wolfie 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".
  • If possible, play on a grassy, cool surface.  Concrete or asphalt can get hot quickly and since we are normally wearing shoes, we don't know just how hot the surface is.  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 playing with some active fetch and chase the ball with more quiet grooming and scatter feeding.
  • Put a leash on Wolfie and practice some attentive walking.  This is a slower exercise and also helps to promote focused obedience. You can also practice come, sit, and stay while you have him on the leash.
  • Short snouted dogs are more susceptible to heat exhaustion than long snouted dogs (Pug vs Lab).  Because of that, take extra precautions when playing with your short snouted dog outside. You might think about shortening your play times or playing earlier in the morning and later in the evening.
  • It is OK 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 Wolfie.  Go outside and sit in the shade with Wolfie.  You can read a book or tweet on your tablet.  Give Wolfie a toy, a goodie, or scatter feed.  Still have plenty of water for Wolfie.  Don't stay out for more than 30 minutes and come inside if Wolfie becomes too active or it gets just too stifling. 
  • When you and Wolfie come inside, make sure that he still has some water to re-hydrate.
Heat exhaustion is a very serious issue for dogs in the summer.  For more information, please contact us at The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.  If Wolfie appears overly lethargic after being outside, call your veterinarian immediately.

"Mad dogs and Englishmen to out in the midday sun"

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