Dogs are part of our families, right? It is so enjoyable to be able to include them in summer activities now that we are looking at a few months of superb weather. There are so many places that you can take your well behaved dog. Notice I said “well behaved” dog! A family outing or camping trip is not the time to introduce your dog to the notion of leash control or containment!
Everyone appreciates a mannerly dog that has been taught to be a good citizen and not a danger or nuisance to others. To accomplish this, you need to train and socialize your dog ahead of time. This investment of your time and energy will result in a dog that will be a welcomed addition everywhere you go.
Before you embark on some more strenuous day trips, it is imperative that your dog (and yourself) are in proper physical condition to be walking a distance and climbing uphill, for example. It should go without saying, that you take the external temperature into consideration and not overheat either of you by over exertion. Be particularly in tune to your dog’s fatigue if he/she is wearing a back pack.
Do not leave your dog in a sunny area with no shade for any length of time or in a car, even with the windows down. Whereas humans have sweat glands with which to perspire, dogs release their body heat primarily through panting and to a lesser degree from the pads of their feet. When the dog warms up beyond the point that can be relieved by sweating from the tongue, he can quickly be in danger of heat stroke.
Whatever your preference for as outdoor activities, be sure to acclimate your dog gradually to the particular environment so that he does not become fearful or wary. Refrain from taking your pets to the lake or river and just tossing them in the water expecting that they be naturally proficient swimmers.
If you want your dog to enjoy the things that you enjoy, then give him a chance to relax and feel confident in the situation. Also, do not go to some strange location and turn your dog loose unless you have a bullet-proof recall (come) in place! He could startle at something unfamiliar and bolt or run when distracted. So often we hear people express how they know the dog will love being free to run and explore, when it can instead be playing with danger. It is up to us to be accountable, responsible dog owners and keep our dogs safe!
Many folks enjoy hiking with the dog in tow. Living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, we have many popular scenic trails where you are sure to encounter other hikers and their four legged buddies. Dogs need to tolerate passing strangers and other canines on a narrow path without incident. A dog whose challenge is reactivity to others dogs or humans, may feel cornered and “act out” in a defensive manner. A dog such as this needs to hike in more open, less travelled areas until it is desensitized to passerby’s.
When the ocean is within driving distance, the beach is a favorite spot for dogs to romp and play if they have been trained to come back to you. Lakes and rivers may also provide a cool and relaxing spot to enjoy. Be very careful that your dog does not ingest any fish that may be laying around. Dogs can become extremely ill from Salmon Disease Poisoning. A few years back one of our doggy students had a brush with death after a stroll on the Oregon beach where he ate some parasitic fish unbeknown to the owner. A few weeks later while with us for training, he became very ill. At the emergency clinic he was diagnosed with Salmon Disease Poisoning. I was shocked as he hadn’t been exposed to fish while with us! I was informed that the incubation period can be about two weeks. If I had not rushed him to the vet when he first displayed symptoms he may not have made it. This disease is 97% fatal if not treated. A good “leave it” cue could be a life saver!
Don’t forget to pack either drinking water from home or bottled water for your pooch. Do not allow your dog to drink from streams or bodies of water. This could result in your dog becoming very ill from a giardia infection. As well, stay on top of your dog’s vaccines and parasite preventatives protecting against fleas, ticks, and heart worms from mosquitoes.
If you include your dog on a camping trip, be sure to take a collapsible crate for the dog to stay safe when you can’t be watching. If the dog is not sharing your sleeping bag with you at night then he must be comfortable sleeping quietly in the crate so as not to disturb others with anxious barking.
Another very useful skill is teaching your dog to tether at home. I don’t mean tie him/her to a tree and go to work. Tethering for management is hooking the dog to a short line for restraint if needed when you are nearby but need to free up your hands or simply secure the dog for a time. This gives you an alternative to the crate at a campsite or picnic grounds.
When taking your dog on a picnic, especially one involving a group, be sure that he/she is friendly with people. Friendliness to children is mandatory since so few kids have been taught not to rush up on a strange dog. Controlling the impulse to jump on kids is a huge issue that must be practiced a great deal prior to an event such as this. Of course, if you own a dog that is not accepting of approaching people, then you need to leave your pet at home so that no unsuspecting person gets bitten.
Implementing Your Training To Ensure Successful Outings
- Effective Recall: For calling your dog back to you. Do not take your dog off lead if he/she is not solid under distraction.
- Leave it: For cueing your dog to ignore or turn away
- Heeling: For telling your dog to walk close in tight situations
- Wait: To prevent bolting out the car in a strange area
- Off: The cue not to jump on people
- Tethering: Secure the dog on a short line to its flat collar/harness
Have a wonderful summer and enjoy it with your dog!!!