Summer time! Hot days, warm nights and a time of the year when people are outdoors more with their pets. As part as my mission to assist pet retailers, here are some dog tips I have been giving to clients for decades.
Encourage owners who take their dogs for hikes or long trips in the car to carry a water dish with them. Dogs also should be restrained when riding in a car. There are three main reasons why a safety harness is a good idea. First, if your dog jumps into your lap or distracts you while you’re driving, this dramatically increases the likelihood of an accident. Second, if you have an accident, your unrestrained dog becomes a missile endangering themselves and anyone in the vehicle. Dog owners don’t always realize how dangerous this can be. A crash at 50 mph will cause a 10-pound unrestrained dog to fly with 500 pounds of projectile force. There are very few good endings to such a scenario. Third, a restrained dog can’t get out of the vehicle until you let them. No more darting out of doors. Luckily pet retailers have a plethora of products they can recommend.
Never leave dogs unattended in a car. You would think that after decades of messaging that this is something everyone would understand. Yet every year dogs die as a result of people doing just that. Two things about the danger of hot cars seem to surprise people. The first is that it doesn’t have to be that warm outside to create dangerous conditions inside a car. If it is 70 degrees outside, in just 10 minutes a car’s interior can rise to almost 90. Within a half hour it can be 104! If it’s 80 degrees outside, in 10 minutes it can reach almost 100 degrees and, in a half hour, approximately 115 degrees. The same people who would never in a million years leave their dog in a car for an hour don’t always understand that it only takes 10 minutes for conditions to become dangerous.
Remind owners to be conscious about the heat of cement and asphalt. If you can’t comfortably place your hand on the ground, don’t expect your dog to sit, stay or lie down on it. Even walking can be uncomfortable if it’s a sunny day. Consider training the dog at night or in the shade. Since dogs can overheat pretty quickly, also be sure to take breaks and have fresh water on hand.
Teach the dog to locate the pool steps. Most dogs can swim but many can’t find the steps. Place a road cone or some other visible marker by the steps. Then gently coax the dog to follow you into the shallow end of the pool and encourage them to follow you as you walk out. Praise and reward this behavior. After several dozen times, most dogs will have no problem locating the steps. You can test this after a couple of weeks by encouraging them into the pool and then climbing out from the side. If the dog understands where they need to get out, they will swim to the visible marker by the steps with little or no hesitation. If they are confused and need a little help, walk quickly to the steps and coax them. Then continue the training procedure for a few more weeks.
Dog owners looking for organized activities to participate in with their dogs should consider dog sports. Dock diving is a fabulous sport and even though most dogs won’t reach an elite level, all who love water will have fun and get great exercise. If water isn’t the dog’s passion, why not Flyball? This sport is fabulous for ball-crazy energetic pooches. Finally, if neither fit, what about obedience trials or Rally-Obedience events? This is great for people who enjoy obedience training with their dogs. Not crazy about the idea of organized sporting events with your dog? That’s OK. Fetch and Frisbee are fun and pretty easy for most dogs to master. The point is to encourage owners to get their dogs outside, moving around and having fun.