Summer's here! And what better way to spend the lazy days of summer then to enjoy some time with the dogs? Here are a few ways to include dogs in your summer plans.
Please remember that dogs should not be left unattended in cars, which heat up very quickly even if parked in the shade with the windows cracked open. If you'll be doing things this summer that don't include your dog, leave him at home where he'll be cooler and comfortable. Here are some ideas on what to do with your dog this summer.
It can a beach, the lakeshore or the shores of a river, a pool... even a kiddie pool! - so long as the dog can join you. Many dogs love to play in the water and it helps to keep them cool during these hot summer days. And they love it even more if you'll join them in splashing around!
Be sure to supervise your dog at all times when around water. Not all dogs are natural swimmers, so don't assume your dog will want to go in deep water. Give the pooch a quick rinse after playtime to make sure any nasties he might have picked up from the water don't remain on his or her skin. Bring cool, fresh water for drinking and an umbrella for shade for when it's time for a break.
Canoes, kayaks, motor boats, houseboats, paddle boats... there are so many ways to enjoy the water with your dog. Dogs should be calm and respond to commands, so that they don't cause mayhem in the boat (and cause a safety issue for either themselves or the humans they're with!). Start with a short trip in safe, shallow waters first, to make sure your dog is comfortable before taking a longer trip.
Life jackets are a must for dogs who are out on the water with their people. We wear them, and so should our dogs!
The chance to explore somewhere new is generally welcomed by dogs. There are so many exciting new smells to investigate! Fresh air! Exercise! Check out nearby trails and parks and head out for a day. Choose a trail that's suitable for both you and your dog's fitness level. During hot summer days, it's best to hike in the early mornings and in the evenings to avoid the heat of the day. Bring lots of fresh drinking water (tip: you can freeze it overnight, so that it stays cooler longer).
Invite some friends who also have dogs to go on a group hike. It will give both the humans and the dogs a chance to socialize and enjoy fresh air, exercise, and great company.
Set up "play dates" with other people and their dogs. Leash-free areas are good options for dogs who want to burn off some energy. If it's a park you're not familiar with, watch for a while first to make sure the dogs are interacting in a way you're comfortable with. If you have a small dog, look for an off-leash park specifically set aside for little dogs - many are more relaxed with dogs their own size.
Another option is to make an appointment for your pet at a doggy daycare. Many types of daycares are available... some even have their own trails or ponds for the dogs to play in! This is a great alternative if you're on holidays and want to explore the area and not have to worry about whether or not your dog will be welcome.
Try agility, flyball, dock diving, flying discs, carting, or other dog sports. If you're looking for something new to try, there are many people who are enthusiastic dog sports fans. It's a way to learn to work as a team with your dog, meet other dog owners, and give your dog both exercise and mental stimulation.
Phone ahead and see if your dog is welcome at local attractions. Some attractions or places are dog-friendly. These are mostly outdoor places and will almost always ask that your dog is leashed, under control, and cleaned up after. You may be surprised at the types of places that allow dogs... we've been on gondolas, in extravagant gardens, and on interpretive nature tours with our dogs!
Have a great summer, and play safe!
"Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring - it was peace." (Milan Kundera)