As all responsible dog owners know, dog exercise is an integral part of life for a pet parent. Providing your dog with exercise is a year-round effort, of course, but summer is really where it’s at when we’re talking about going outside, seizing the day and engaging in meaningful physical activity.
It’s also important to stay safe though and, while summer provides ample opportunity to get out there and play or exercise with your pooch, the heat itself can be a challenge. Here are a few tips to help you adapt and give your dog exercise in a way that’s within the bounds of healthy physical exertion.
Adjust Your Schedule and Watch the Forecast
In autumn, early spring and even winter, you can go out and exercise at pretty much any point in the day and your dog’s exercise experience will largely be the same. In summer, however, you should be mindful of when you take your dog outside for that quality time.
That can mean focusing on different times of the day, depending on where you live. Wherever you are, however, the hottest point in the day will be around noon and for hours after that. On a normal, relatively mild summer day, you can conduct your dog exercise in later afternoon or evening hours to avoid the scorching Sun. Still, some days can be so Hellish in certain locations that the evening isn’t much more pleasant at all.
Early morning hours are thus your safest bet and it’s a good idea to wrap up most of your dog exercise before 8 a.m. if you can, especially if you know that a particularly hot day is ahead of you. That’s why you should also keep up with the weather forecast.
Be Mindful of Your Dog’s Paws
We, humans, wear shoes that keep our feet nice and comfortable even in the unrelenting summer heat. A significant advantage that we don't even think about most of the time is that we can step on almost any surface and not worry if it's hot. Things like asphalt are regular sun collectors, so the pavement can get incredibly heated under the sun. Not only do we not feel it on our feet, but most adults are elevated just enough not to feel it on their faces either.
Dogs will feel all of that, though, and even if they can stand the heat on their paws, running on asphalt and concrete can be so much more exhausting for them. You should thus avoid such surfaces during your dog exercise hours. Instead, you can go to a more natural environment where your pooch can run on grass and ground. Alternatively, you can get a treadmill for your home or go to a fitness center for pets.
Tone the Dog’s Exercise Down
Don’t force yourself or your canine into overdrive. If you notice that a heat wave is hitting the area, you must act accordingly. Dogs need their daily exercise, but they also need to keep cool and safe. Therefore, you should modify your dog exercise program a bit so as to make it less exerting. Make more breaks, run shorter distances and let your pooch rest and recuperate frequently.
If you’ve got yourself a Labrador or another swimming breed, then it goes without saying that perhaps you should simply replace a large portion of your running with swimming if you live near a lake for instance.
The importance of staying hydrated really can’t be emphasized enough. Don’t just take your dog outside for a workout and hope that you run into water along the way. You need to be prepared, and you need to make sure your pet has a drink at regular intervals. Inspect some of your local pet stores for special bowls that allow you to close them and transport water and keep it cool.
That, combined with a bit of common sense, is about it. Dog exercise doesn’t have to stop during those scorching months, but it definitely has to be modified to make sure your pooch stays healthy and safe.