What to do with your dog when it’s too hot to play fetch or go jogging.
Relaxed, Sniffy Walks Keep Dog Brains Busy
We trainers sometimes get a little obsessive on the subject of off-leash, aerobic exercise. That’s because we see so many puppies and adolescent dogs whose bad manners are largely due to pent-up energy. A brisk walk at heel won’t meet most young dogs’ exercise needs, so you might think that a slow pokey walk wouldn’t do any good either. Actually, sniffy walks are an important counterpart to aerobic exercise in meeting doggy behavioral needs at any age. Half an hour of nosing around, with pauses for inspection at every bush and fire hydrant, can leave your dog refreshed and relaxed. I’d guess it’s comparable to how we feel after we’ve had our coffee, checked our favorite news sites, and caught up with friends. When it’s too hot to play fetch with you or wrestle with other dogs, slow, sniffy walks become even more important as boredom preventers.
Teach Manners and Tricks to Keep Your Dog Busy
Hot days are also a great time for teaching manners and tricks. Like nose games and sniffy walks, reward-based training stimulates that dog brain and leaves it pleasantly tired and less inclined to look for trouble. Check out my article on target training, then teach your dog to target a basketball and push it around the house with his nose, or to ring a bell, or to turn on one of those lamps with a floor button. Since hot weather slows dogs down, a young dog may find it easier to practice stays and polite leash walking at this time. (Remember: You can use permission to go sniff as a reward in your leash-walking practice!) And see my articles on rainy-day fun for dogs and enrichments for older dogs—though these games work for any age.
Last but not least, have fun lounging around together on a blanket in the shade, you with your lemonade, Dogalini with her bowl of fresh cool water.
Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), “The Dog’s Sense of Smell.”
Miller, Pat. Play With Your Dog. Dogwise, 2008. Tons of great ideas for indoor and outdoor play in all weathers.
Want to teach your dog to win at three-“card” monte? Here’s a lovely video showing how to teach a three-container shell game.
Check out The Dog Trainer's Complete Guide to a Happy, Well-Behaved Pet for more awesome tips on tricks on keeping your dog happy and healthy.