By Elle Williams, CPDT-KA Pet Columnist, Canyon Lake Insider
It’s that glorious time of the year, summertime. Time to bring out the boat, put on the bug spray, and figure out what to do with poor Fido while the temperature hits those triple digits.
Most pet parents are well aware of the dangers excess heat brings. Heat stroke and burnt paws are two of the biggest risks. If you don’t get out for a walk by 9 a.m., you have already missed your opportunity to give your dog a safe walk. I’ll only say this once, if it’s too hot for you to walk on the roads with bare feet, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws.
So the first activity I suggest is an early morning walk, something I do with my dogs every day for so many reasons. But a walk may not be enough enrichment for the day, especially for working breeds and young dogs that have lots more energy to burn.
So what can you do to make sure your dog is getting enough enrichment when the daytime is too dangerous for long periods of outside play? Here are some of my favorite summertime activities that will help beat the heat while also getting that energy out.
Puzzle Toys and Scuffle Mats
Feeding time is a great time for a dog to work off energy. Work their mind by putting kibble in a puzzle toy or treat dispensing ball. Work their nose by spreading kibble among a scuffle mat. A quick Google search will give you plenty of options when it comes to finding the perfect puzzle toy or scuffle mat for your particular dog.
Go Find is a game I love to play because it’s simple and can be done in the house. Hide dog treats all around the house (I personally don’t hide any around the kitchen because I don’t want my dogs to think it’s okay to eat food that accidentally fell on the ground while I was prepping a meal). If this is the dogs first time playing, let your dog watch from a crate or behind a baby gate while you hide treats. You want them to know you’re hiding something they are allowed and encouraged to find. Think of Go Find like an Easter egg hunt. Release your pup and say, “Go find.” Let their nose go to work sniffing out all the hidden treats.
Fill an ice tray with water and a splash of something yummy, such as chicken broth (no salt added), blueberries, apple chunks, pumpkin purée, peanut butter, wet dog food, or any other dog-friendly treat. Place in the freezer for an hour and then place the cubes in a water dish for them to enjoy while also keeping them cool.
Bobbing for Apples
Yes, the human game of bobbing for apples can be an activity for your dog as well. Fill a dog or kid pool with water and then add frozen blueberries, frozen carrots, frozen peas, apple chunks, or PUPsicles to the pool. Sit back and watch your dog figure out how to get the yummy treats while also cooling off in the pool.
Frozen Kongs and Lick Mats
Kongs are a classic dog toy made to hold food and spreadable treats inside. Lick mats are mats made with groves to hold spreadable treats in. Fill a Kong or Lick Mat with peanut butter, whipped cream, wet canned food, pumpkin purée, or any other dog-friendly spreadable treat and place in the freezer for an hour. Remove and give to your dog for a much longer and cooler licking experience.
Take them to a Ballgame
Lake Elsinore’s Storm baseball field is hosting dog-friendly games. Bring your pup to a ballgame and enjoy free dog treats provided by What’s Barking Dog Treats. It’s a great opportunity to socialize among crowds of people and other dogs. There is also a trick competition you can sign up for. Dog tickets are only $1 and the proceeds go to Animal Friends of the Valleys. The upcoming Dog Days are held on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. on July 13, July 27, August 10, and August 31.
Play Hide and Seek
If your dog does well with “stay,” have them stay in one room and go hide in another. Once you have hidden, yell “come find me” and your pup will come rushing to find where you are. Once they found you, be really proud of them and give them a lot of praise. This is a confidence-building exercise for your pup. Imagine how confident a dog becomes knowing it can find its lost owner. You are their everything.
Teach a New Trick
There are many books and videos that show owners how to teach their pups all kinds of tricks. If you prefer to learn from an instructor, hire a dog trainer or look for a local dog trick training class.
Elle Williams is a local in-home dog trainer and the owner of Give a Sit Dog Training. She is certified in dog psychology, nutrition, and grooming, and specializes in basic and advanced obedience, puppy prep, and behavior adjustment training.
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