The weather has finally realised it’s nearly summer and we are having warmer temperatures this week, more forecast the next couple of weeks and I feel we can expect more to come over July and August!
So we can look at ways to help our dogs feel cooler and prevent getting too hot or dehydrated which can include :
🐶 Closing curtains or blinds in a room your dog prefers to be in to prevent the sun warming up that room
🐶 Open doors and windows in the same room but further apart to create and cross wind but also to help hot air escape.
🐶 Put something on the floor for your dog to choose to lay on that is cooler like a cool mat or a yoga mat or give your dog access to somewhere with tiles.
🐶 Create shade outside for when they want to toilet with parasols, items leaning against the shed, a blanket pegged to the backs of two chairs etc.
🐶 Ensure there is fresh water and that it isn’t sitting in the sun to warm up!
🐶 Give your dog a little brush or comb through to remove any loose fur and undercoat and to remove knots etc so that any cooler airflow around your dog can move through the coat – especially for our double coated breeds!
🐶 If you are outside with your dog just be aware of what they have been walking on – concrete slabs, wooden decking areas and even astro turf heat up very quickly so if your dog needs to walk on these to reach where your shady area is they may hesitate. Put a blanket on the floor so your dog can cross that area.
Now we’re ready to look at some nice activities with our dogs!
Days when we are confined to cooler and shady spaces more are a great opportunity to spend time working on areas that are more difficult so require more short sessions spent on them, such as teaching a retrieve if your dog doesn’t play with toys – having numerous small stages means ‘little and often’ works best.
For us, what we work on differs each time; something new to us that needs some repetition, something needed towards a title, test or certificate, maybe exercises we haven’t done for a while so it’s a refresher! We may focus on gentle tricks or heelwork to music poses, while other times obedience exercises, strength & conditioning work or Wag It games! It’s varied so the dogs have a nice surprise and it gives them plenty of reasons to stay focused and motivated!
Here’s some types of training we alternate when it’s too warm to go out but still cool enough that our dogs want to be busy;
🐶 Tricks Training
🐶 Gentle Muscle Strengthening
🐶 Husbandry such as nails, teeth etc
🐶 Assistance Dog style exercises such as
🐶 Retrieve Foundations
🐶 Settle Training
🐶 Gentle Massage
🐶 Memory Training (Cognitive Skills)
🐶 Do As I Do (Mimicry)
So let’s focus on each of these and look at a tutorial of each too for inspiration!!
😊 Tricks Training!
As a Certified Dog Tricks Instructor for Do More With Your Dog as well as a trainer and assessor for the National Trick Star Awards I really do love working on tricks! So many options, so many ways to adapt too!
With Tricks there are categories, such as tricks with a prop, tricks involving fetch, tricks with poses or actions etc, plus there are levels of difficulty too. There are lots of tricks at all levels that are static and require very little movement overall from our dogs which are great to work on in the shade on warm days, such as;
Play Dead / Bang Bang
Hold an Item
Just as a few examples!!
You can work on a trick and progress it to reduce your luring, move further away, add it to something else or you might like to work towards a Tricks Title – many of which are online as well as in person.
Take a look at our tutorial for Sleepy Head:
🐕 Gentle Muscle Strengthening:
When our dogs cannot continue their regular activities there is a risk to their overall body strength, particularly with dogs that have joint issues, muscular weakness, tight tendons etc. Most dogs would need to be out of action for weeks but I’ve worked with dogs who loose muscle mass if they don’t get to have their walks for 3/4 days in a row and this leads to increased discomfort and decreased mobility issues.
Canine Conditioning, Fitness, Muscle Strengthening etc is something I am so passionate about telling dog owners about as since 2014 when I became the UK’s first Certified Professional Canine Fitness Trainer as I’ve seen for myself the benefits!
To work on very light fitness exercises we are helping our dogs move which in turn engages muscles and helps them stay stronger to support the body, plus they help our dogs think about what they are needing to do for balance and coordination. You don’t need any fancy equipment for this, in fact many foundations you don’t need anything and it’s all on the floor!
Canine Conditioning and Fitness is suitable for dogs of all ages, from Puppy to Senior Dog and can help keep dogs in a strong condition while it’s hot ready to return to walks or activities when it’s cooler again.
Here is our tutorial for Standing Weight Shift – Nose Touch version:
🐕 Husbandry such as nails, teeth etc:
Husbandry, or cooperative care, is working on skills to help our dogs stay healthy such as teeth cleaning, clipping nails, coat care, examination before anything is wrong, applying pretend medication etc.
When it’s too warm to do much we can use this time to introduce skills that will help throughout our dog’s life, or to work in skills they have previously been unsure about. There are a few methods for help his such as clicker training, the Bucket Game, Force Free including dogs having a ‘permission’ indication and more.
Be aware that if it’s something your dog really hates, then pairing it with being hot and bothered may not be wise, but you can still work on preparing such as learning the bucket game, or desensitise to you holding a set of nail clippers. Then work on the actual issue when it’s cooler!
💻 Take a look at this tutorial for introducing ear drops before they are needed:
🐕 Assistance Dog style exercises : such as loading the washing machine with laundry, pushing a door shut or alerting us to our phone ringing are not only great ways to occupy our dogs without them needing to move too much but are also quite useful!
Although we don’t want to be asking too much of our dogs when it’s hot we can work on specific elements. Eg loading the washing machine we can sit with our dog and work on them picking up a sock then dripping into a box, or for alerting you to your phone ringing you can start by pairing the sound of the phone with rewards and then teaching them to do something like paw your leg when the noise happens.
🐕 Retrieve Foundations:
I know what you’re thinking; ‘retrieve and hot weather don’t mix!!!’
The very foundations of retrieve don’t include our dogs running after a toy several times in a row but rather focus on our dogs seeing value in taking an item from us on cue, giving it back, increasing how long they can hold the item while standing still or sitting etc. It can also include fetch games likes hiding a toy in one of a few boxes and ask your dog to find and bring it back (set it up under shade!), or placing an item on various height surfaces to encourage your dog to hold the item from various positions.
💻 Here is an intro tutorial for retrieve to get you started:
🐕 Settle Training:
Working on a Settle can be super useful for when we have visitors, taking our dogs out somewhere, and of course when we want them to chill out on a hot day!
First of all we need our dogs to lay down as it’s hard to be settled when standing up! In case your dog could use some help with learning a down on cue here’s our tutorial:
Once they can lay down we want to encourage our dogs to lay on something comfortable; I like a raised dog bed or platform for this but a regular dog bed, blanket, towel or doormat also works! If you use something light you can take it other places to help your dog settle. Guide onto the bed, help into a down and whole you treat with one hand you use the other hand to give slow strokes down their body from neck to tail. You can add a settle cue like ‘Settle’ or ‘Relax’ while stroking your dog in the down and this helps the association.
Work on this for short sessions of a few minutes at a time and try in different places which will help your dog do the settle in more locations.
Progress to asking for settle when you’re standing near your dog, then a little further away as more progression.
🐕 Gentle Massage:
We are not message therapists but we have done various classes with Canine Massage, Galen Myotherapy etc and know how much we can do with our dogs without risking damage and how much they enjoy the time with us!
Even a gentle few minutes providing effleurage can really relax our dogs – and I find quite relaxing too! Especially after working with three dogs!
Effleurage involves cupping our hand a little and gently running our hands along the dog’s body from top to bottom, not too fast, and trying to always have one hand on our dog while the other hand returns to the top of the body.
We have a short clip here to show you and you can look up Effleurage for Dogs, Galen Myotherapy etc too.
🐕 Memory Training (Cognitive Skills):
Memory training is a fun concept of training which encourages our dogs to really look at what is in front of them and to indicate when they see something similar – in this case it’s an image on a sheet of paper then the image is replicated in another location.
This is truly about the mind so really does give dogs a chance to work hard without there being any pressure on the body. It’s also really age friendly for Puppies, Adult dogs and Senior dogs alike!
There are stages to work on starting with ensuring dogs are looking at the shape we are showing them so they can start noticing it more, then we move on to asking them to find another of the same, then notice which it is out of two images, and build it up from there. Really fun, really different!
🐕 Do As I Do (Mimicry):
Do As I Do has been around for a few years and was created by Claudia Fugazza. There is a new protocol to teach dogs first of all which helps our dogs learn to watch what we do and then try to copy us, and once this is in place we start progressing!
As you get to choose what to practise and introduce for this type of training you can keep to low energy exercises and skills to help your dog stay cool while still using their brain!
How do I choose what to work on with my Dog?
If you’re not sure what to work on maybe think of exercises you can also do with you dog next to you in heel – can your dog do the same in opposite heel?? We call our right hand heel ‘side’ and regular heel is ‘heel’. You might find that just being next to you your dog finds some foundation positions harder so this can be practised, such as sit and down.
Or if you can do good stays in the lounge on a nice comfy carpet have a try in a room with laminate flooring or vinyl! If too slippery pop a mat or blanket on the floor. These different surfaces help our dogs generalise! Don’t think that just because it’s hot our dogs won’t move out of that stay position! If there’s a scent, sound, a fly buzzes past etc this can be enough for our dogs to forget their are working on something and just get up!
If you’re really stuck how about joining an online free group:
National Canine Trick Star Awards – four levels of tricks titles working on a range of tricks you can choose to suit your dog. Work on the tricks as they are or work towards the titles for Rosettes!
“Cassimas Maximus Sparks Tricks Team” Facebook Group:
Our own Facebook Group in line with Do More With Your Dog Tricks Titles. Again there are hundreds of tricks to choose from and you can use the group for inspiration or to work towards Tricks Titles which are worldwide!
For any Golden Oldie dogs, or also for younger Puppies that need to be a little careful or dogs of any age with mobility issues you might also like to look at our Senior Dogs Progress Awards Facebook Group:
Designed to keep dogs over 7 more active for mind and body, giving dogs more to learn and exercises designed to teach body strengthening and mental stimulation. The awards have various categories and you can choose the exercises that suit your dog best or opt to work on the exercises and not worry about the awards part!
So being at home doesn’t mean boring – Enjoy your next ‘stay at home’ day – it might be a lot more fun then you first thought!
Accredited Dog Trainer and Certified Professional Canine Fitness Trainer
Dog Training For Essex & Suffolk
Original Post created 13th June 2023
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