July has been a hot one for sure! August is here and the heat is on. When it’s dangerously hot outside, just a walk in the early morning or evening can be draining. So, what can you do with your dog to keep them from going stir crazy and getting into things they shouldn’t, when it is just too darn hot to go outside?
The key is to continue to provide mental and physical stimulation even if you can’t be outside. Here are a few activities to keep you and your pup happy and cool in the heat of the summer.
Wet and Wild
If you like being outside, what better way to spend a sweltering day than to splash around with your canine companion. Kiddie pools are an inexpensive and fun solution to any hot day. I keep one filled with fresh water in my yard and my dog Jack takes himself for a splash whenever the heat is on. Simply throw a few of your dog’s favorite toys (water toys work best) in the pool filled with a few inches of water and let the dog test the water on his own or sit in the pool yourself to entice Fido to join you.
Indoor Fun and Games
Perhaps the safest thing to do for your dog and yourself on a hot day is crank up the air conditioning in your home and have some indoor fun. Don’t think being stuck inside limits your options of fun. Here’s some great ideas for indoor fun and even some training time:
1. Indoor Agility. Set up an indoor agility course using broom sticks, boxes, sheets, step stools, and furniture. Have fun luring your dog through the course with yummy treats and encouragement.
2. Stairs, Stairs, and More Stairs. Walking or running up and down stairs is tremendous exercise. To encourage the behavior, sit at the top of your steps and toss a TINY treat to the bottom. Once they
collect it, call them back to the top and give another TINY treat. Repeat until your pup is panting!
3. Puppy Push-ups. Do you want a dog who drops into a down when you ask them one time? Try playing puppy push-up: sit, down, sit, down, sit, down, and also add stand. Teach your dog to lie down from a stand. Much harder than going down from a sit. When your dog is new at it, start with one rep: sit, down, treat and then chain the behaviors together before giving them the reward.
4. Play Nose Games With Your Dog. You can tire and relax your dog with low-energy doggy brain games. Humans have a puny 5 million olfactory receptors in our noses, while dogs have upwards of 125 million. Wonder why our dogs sometimes seem distracted when we think there’s nothing of interest around. An easy one to teach is “Find the Treat.” For this game, first teach your dog to stay while you walk around. Jack loves the find it game. Allow your dog to smell a super tasty treat. Ask for a sit or down stay, then hide the treat where he can barely see it. Release him with “go find it.” Gradually increase the challenge – hide it where he can’t see it, have him wait in another room, switch from a smelly treat to his favorite toy, and so on.
5. Make Meals Challenging. Serve your dog’s meals in a food puzzle or treat dispensing toy. Stuff a Kong with all or part of their breakfast or dinner and then freeze it for added enjoyment, time, and coolness.
6. Loose Leash Party. You don’t need to be outside to practice walking nicely on leash. Go up and down stairs, take sudden 90-degree turns, traverse obstacles (Ottomans, the cat, etc.), start and stop suddenly – clicking and treating all the while. Be exuberant with your praise, and your dog will think this is a blast.
7. The Shell Game. Using three cups, hide a treat in one of them and push all three around on the floor just like the casino game. Let your dog sniff out the right one and wait for them to find the treat.
8. Teach Manners and Tricks to Keep Your Dog Busy. Reward based training stimulates that dog brain and leaves it pleasantly tired and less inclined to look for trouble. Teach your dog to target a
basketball and push it around the house with his nose, or to ring a bell. Teach your dog a few tricks like sit pretty, roll over, or spin.
9. Have Fun With Your Dog! Now that you know some cool stuff you can do with your dog, go have fun. And, remember to save some time for cuddling and just hanging out together.
Sandy Modell, CPDT-KA is the owner and head of training at the Wholistic Hound Academy, Alexandria’s premier canine training and learning center — offering classes and private lessons in puppy enrichment, socialization, and training, teenage, adult dog manners and behavior modification, dog sports and canine conditioning, including agility and nose work. Visit www.wholistichound.com and like us on Facebook.com/wholistichound to stay informed of our offerings and to register for our upcoming classes.