Summer is heating up in the Northern Hemisphere, and we couldn’t be more excited! This summer might still look a bit different compared to your usual summer. Can’t be on a road travelling like last year? Maybe you have gotten your first furry family member during this year?
In addition to becoming a champion in ice cream eating, you might want to do something fun with your dog — without jeopardizing their health.
Unlike humans, dogs can’t evaporate extra heat by sweating through their skin. So, even though running after a frisbee might seem like the most fun summer sport to do for both of you, there’s a real risk of your dog overheating, and, worst case scenario, suffering from heat stroke. Keeping your dog in the shade and making sure they don’t over exercise and have fresh water to drink are some of the key elements for sure!
So, what activities do dogs think are cool, that also keep them cool too?
Sniff out that snack
Using their nose to explore the world comes naturally for dogs of all ages. After all, their sense of smell is thousandfold compared to humans! Making a use of their nose is something that calms dogs down, keeps their brain stimulated, and just overall, makes happy dogs.
Scent games you can play during summer:
- Hide their evening food in your yard. Dogs actually love to work for their food, so you can choose one of their daily meals, and just sprinkle it around the yard. If you do this somewhere else, make sure your dog finds all of its food and not anything else!
- Make a trail with your scent and treats. Many dogs love to follow scent trails – after all, they used to be wolves! Start with just a couple meters of trail: choose a place where there aren’t too many distractive trails, walk as you would normally walk for 1-3 meters and drop treats in your footsteps. Let your dog follow your scent and get treats on top of it! Gradually make the trail longer and let it settle before you track it, and use different surfaces: grass, rocks, forest floor, whatever you can find where you live.
There are thousands of different ways to hide food in your house or outdoors. Keep challenging your dog, and yourself, by finding more tricky places to hide the treats! Don’t forget to praise your dog over the moon when they’re done with the trail – social reward is almost as important as the yummy treats.
Sit and stay summer challenge
Especially for a young dog, sitting and staying put is probably the hardest thing to do. Why can’t I just zoom away in the fresh grass, your puppy might wonder? Well, in the heat of summer, running easily ramps up their body temperature.
- Start this summer challenge by making sure your puppy knows how to sit. To find help with that, check out Puppy Training by OneMind Dogs, where you can find step-by-step instructions how to teach your puppy to sit.
- Then ask her to stay, just for a few seconds at a time. Make sure you only reward her if her cute, little butt is on the ground and that you release her with your release cue! Then gradually, make the time longer and move further away from her, just a few steps at a time.
Too easy for your clever companion?
- Try to turn your back on them and see if that sparks a reaction to follow you! You can also ask a friend to help out – have them be a distraction that tries to get your dog to move from their position. If they have a dog, even better – take turns with the training.
Track your results during summer and share how you did with everyone – you can also send a video and a message to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll publish it on our social media!
Teach your dog to love water
For some dogs, this isn’t something that needs to be worked on. Have you ever tried keeping a Labrador retriever out of the water? That’s a tough one!
However, some dogs, especially puppies, might be suspicious about entering water for the first time. It’s such an efficient way for them to cool off, but it needs to be shown to them. Teaching them the joys of swimming is totally worth it, and it doesn’t require much! And to be frank, is there anything more delightful than going nuts with your dog in the water under the sun?
- First, let your puppy approach the water on its own terms. Keep the leash relaxed and let them explore the water at their own pace.
- Go to the water yourself and show with your happy and calm example that it’s nothing to be worried about. Your puppy loves you, so it trusts that you don’t take them to anything scary! When they put their paws in, praise greatly and give them treats. That can be enough for the first day.
- For the second time, try to get your puppy to play near the water – maybe even start dropping some water-proof toys next to the waterline and see if they want to fetch it.
Just remember that not all dogs love to swim, and that’s totally OK! If they can wet their legs and stomach, that’s enough for them to effectively cool off.
And don’t forget to get into the water yourself, because let’s face it – there’s nothing more fun than playing in the water together!
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