There is nothing doggy about the dog days of summer. My dog hates the heat, which makes sense since her thick, shaggy black coat makes her a prime candidate for heatstroke.
The only thing she hates more than the heat is boredom.
We have lived in a variety of climates, from Maine to the tropics, and keeping her German shepherd brain entertained is a full-time job no matter the temperature outside.
Here is what I learned about surviving the dog days of summer.
1. Dusk & dawn are your friend
One of the simplest solutions for keeping your pooch cool is to avoid the heat entirely. This can mean changing your routine, which is easier said than done, but nobody ever said dog ownership was always a walk in the park. Or maybe it just means that sometimes you have to take that walk in the park at 6 a.m.
Early mornings and late evenings are typically cooler than the middle of the day, which means you may have to get up a little earlier to take your dog for a walk or run and possibly push off some evening plans now and again to enjoy the cool of the evening.
2. Mental stimulation is key
Not all activity has to be physical. Really hot days are a great excuse to stay indoors and enjoy the air conditioning if you have it, but that doesn’t mean your dog has to join you on the couch.
Some days, mental stimulation is just as tiring for my dog as a long run. In fact, I have gone for a 5-mile hike and returned to find my dog just as energetic as when we left, and on other days, a few minutes of obedience training tuckers her right out.
Teach your dog a new trick or reinforce previous obedience lessons with a practice session. If you have the time and the means, you could even enroll your dog in an indoor class to learn new skills.
3. Hit the surf
Many dogs love water, and swimming is a great activity for the summer. It keeps your dog cool and active, but it does come with risks. Many beaches, whether they are on a lake, the ocean or a pond, are in direct sunlight. This can pose the risk of heatstroke, so be sure to offer your dog plenty of water and watch out for the warning signs of heatstroke. Hot sand can also burn your dog’s paws, so waterways in shady areas are a safer bet.
Setting up a kiddie pool or sprinkler in your backyard is a great alternative to hot beaches, especially if you can’t find a shady lake, pond or river to frolic in. Alternatively, you could get involved with a local dock-diving club.
4. Play a game
Dogs love games, and games are a great way to keep your dog entertained and active. My dogs love to play hide and seek. This game is also a great way to practice the stay command.
Have your dog sit and stay in another room, perhaps with another person to help hold them. Then hide either yourself or a toy and invite them to search for the desired object. Just don’t make it too difficult, as your dog may get frustrated.
Beating the heat is tricky, but with a little ingenuity and flexibility, you and your dog should be able to enjoy a summer of fun, even on those scorching-hot days.