How to keep your dog happy when it’s too hot outside
As the weather (finally!) begins to warm up here in the UK one lady is on a mission to make sure that we aren’t walking our dogs too much. Dog trainer and author Niki French hit the headlines earlier in the year when she launched ‘Don’t walk your dog day’ to raise awareness of the fact that not all dogs thrive on daily walks. If your dog is nervous or reactive it could be making things worse for them and there are alternative enrichment activities that you can do instead.
Now that summer is here, Niki is suggesting that some of those enrichment activities may be suitable alternatives to walking if the weather is too hot to go outside.
As we have previously reported on the blog, dogs can find it difficult to cope in the heat and can quickly become dehydrated or develop heatstroke. Sometimes because you dog is having fun you might not realise they are becoming too hot until it is too late. Talking to the Mirror about suitable alternatives to walking in the heat, Niki said:
"It's important to have a variety of activities and games that you can play with your dog, without going out when it’s warmer. Dogs that are overweight, energetic and those with thick coats will also overheat more easily. If you decide to walk your dog, take them out early in the later or later in the evening and take water with you. Stick to the shady side of the street to avoid hot pavements."
Sunny dog photo by Alvin Balemesa on Unsplash
Here are her three top recommended alternative activities for when the sun starts to blaze:
Get your dog’s nose to work. Hide some of their normal dry food in cardboard boxes and let them seek it out. This is a cheap and easy way to keep them occupied and keep them moving.
If you don’t have any boxes to hand, try bunching up an old towel and then scatter some treats into it, to create a DIY snuffle mat. Put some treats under the towel too so that they really have to hunt around for them.
Sniffing dog photo by Will on Unsplash
If your dog enjoys going in water or getting wet (and not all dogs do) get a small tray of water or if you have a decent outdoor space, a paddling pool (we sell paddling pools especially for dogs here in the Gravitis Shop) and get them splashing about with some of their favourite waterproof toys. If you are short on space then even putting a few ice cubes in their water bowl can be a fun game for some dogs, who will enjoy fishing them out.
Gravitis pet pool
Tug of War
A classic doggy enrichment game, Niki says tug of war will also improve your relationship with your pup and letting them ‘win’ occasionally will boost their confidence and self-esteem whilst they play.
Dog tug of war photo by Darinka Kievskaya on Unsplash
Niki is a big fan of switching daily walks for enrichment games even when it’s not sunny outside:
"It might come as a surprise, but traditional walks are a human invention and aren't helpful for many of our dogs. Replacing walk time with training games at home can give the dogs the skills they're missing to live calm and happy lives."
"It's good to have other things in your toolkit. This applies to all dogs and surprisingly it can work best for breeds that need lots of exercise."
Having owned a dog that ‘asked’ for a walk every day and now owning one that doesn’t, personally I’d say it’s down to the individual dog, to assess what they need and work out what is best for them. Niki says her dog is noticeably calmer since she stopped walking them as much, but this approach may not work for everyone. It’s certainly a useful strategy when you need it though, and definitely worth trying to see if it works for you. If you decide to try it, let us know how you get on in the comments section below!
Main photo by Delphine Beausoleil on Unsplash