How to Exercise Safely with Your Dog in Summer
Summer is here and so is the beautiful weather. However, it can get hot and that means taking extra care when exercising with your dog. Dogs can suffer from heatstroke just like humans. Therefore, it’s crucial that you change your routine to adjust for the temperature. Here’s how to exercise safely with your dog in summer.
Keep Workouts Short in the High Heat
When it comes to high heat, keeping workouts short is key. If your dog is used to vigorous exercise, then cut the time by half. For older dogs and puppies, keep your time outdoors under 15 minutes. That’s all it takes for heat stroke to take effect. So, keep it short and sweet. Remember, cooler days are always on the horizon!
Go Out Early… or Late
If you’re committed to your daily workouts, consider changing your schedule to include exercise either early in the morning or in the evening, after the sun has lowered in the sky. Dogs and humans alike will exercise more comfortably during the cooler parts of the day.
Take a Dip
Swim, swim, swim! If you have a dog-safe body of water to take a dip in, now’s the time! If your dog is not big on submerging themselves in water, running a sprinkler, and letting your dog jump through it would be a fine alternative. What’s important is that you keep them cool and safe. For dogs who aren’t very obedient, make sure you stay beside your dog while in the water. If they swim too far out and don’t have the energy to swim back, you could have a scary situation on your hands. For added safety, consider buying your pup a life jacket with a handle that you could easily use to pull them out of the water.
Find Some Shade
Check your local pet-friendly green spaces for shady areas that give you room to play fetch or run around for your workout. The shade provides much-needed relief from the sun’s strong radiation and will feel much cooler. Where you can’t find shade naturally, make your own! Large umbrellas, standing in the shade of your car’s open trunk, or under the awning of your local cafe all serve as places of respite during your outdoor exercise. Just remember to keep the length of your workouts appropriate to the heat of the day and the health of your dog.
Learn How to Cool Your Dog Down
Dogs become dehydrated more easily than you realize. One way to find out if your dog is dehydrated is to pull the skin on their scruff. If the skin doesn’t immediately return to its normal place, you have a dehydrated dog. Give them cool water to drink immediately. The next stage is heat stroke, which happens when your dog gets so hot, they can not cool themselves down anymore. Cool your dog by putting cool water on their bellies. Call your vet while you do so and they can give you further instructions on how to return your dog to a safe temperature.
Take it Inside
Sometimes it’s just too hot to take your dog outside. When this is the case, take the time to have fun indoors. Here are a few games you can play with your dog to give them both some mental and physical stimulation.
- Rotate Toys – When your dog isn’t paying attention, take away some of their toys and replace them with new ones. This change will keep your dog on their toes and keep playing indoors exciting.
- Hide and Seek – Try to have your dog sit in one room, then you hide in another. Find a spot behind the couch or in a closet. Or try hiding under some covers to make things extra hard for your dog. Call them into the room and let them seek you out. When they win, be sure to shower them with lots of love and affection.
- Obstacle Course – It’s easy to tire your dog out with an obstacle course. Set up pillows, couch cushions, or even your bed as dog jumps. Then set up barriers for them to jump over or climb under. Your imagination is the only limit when it comes to a homemade obstacle course.
- Hidden Treat Game – Get a toy that is meant to reward your dog for figuring out a puzzle. These treat games are a great challenge for your dog and gives a wonderful mental workout. Even a frozen Kong can occupy your dog for quite some time.
- Tug of War – Tug of War is a great game to get your dog some exercise. You can use a dog’s rope toy, or even make a rope from an old shirt. Either way, your dog will love your individual attention. Just make sure you stop the game if your dog becomes too aggressive. You can always try again later.
- Play Fetch – Fetch is a fun game to teach your dog, as well. You can use tennis balls or even just a stuffed animal to play fetch. Just make sure that you are rewarding your dog each time they return the toy by either giving lots of affection or an actual food treat.
- Hide Treats – Another fun game to play with your dog is where you hide treats in a room. Take a few minutes and hide many treats under throw pillows, behind a couch, or poking out from under a rug. Then call your dog into the room to find them. This lets your dog flex their sniffer skills while providing some well-deserved mental stimulation as well.
Keep Elderly Dogs and Puppies Indoors
At-risk dogs, like the elderly or puppies, should be kept indoors during the hottest weather. Take them outside to relieve themselves, and then go back inside to enjoy some of the fun activities we mentioned above. When it comes to heat, safety is critical.