Summer is a busy time, especially for those of us in climates that have limited warm weather. Everyone is out and about with their dogs, trying to cram in as much outdoor enjoyment as they can in the few weeks we have.
There are many of us, most with reactive dogs, who prefer the quieter times to be outdoors. However, your dog doesn’t have to be reactive, any dog can find themselves in a situation that makes them uncomfortable or is even dangerous. With Luke and Cricket, I simply try to walk at quieter times, but there’s never a guarantee that something won’t come along to distract them or any dog.
It is our job as responsible pet parents to be sure our dogs are safe and comfortable and many times that means keeping them safely by our sides. We need to be aware of the different challenges of summer: not just the extra activity of more dogs and people around, but many foods at picnics and barbecues, and more wildlife around that can be a distraction for any dog.
There are three cues that can help keep your dog safer in these situations:
- “Leave It”
- “Come” or “Here”
- “Heel” or “With Me”
Knowing your dog is key as well. If you trust your dog off leash, then you especially need to be sure that they will leave things alone they shouldn’t have, stay by your side when you need them to, or come back to you when there is a danger or distraction around. Even dogs on leashes can dart far enough away to get into something they shouldn’t if you’re not paying attention.
My experience with people is that many think dogs can eat just about anything. They aren’t aware that you might be watching your dogs’ weight, that they might have an allergy, or even that many foods can be toxic to dogs. You have to be diligent in watching people, but you also must be aware that people are sloppy, and might drop things your dog might want to snatch right up!
“Leave It” (and alternatively “drop it” or “give”) is important to know, to be sure that won’t happen. Many times, just a day of overeating a bit at a picnic, and having a few bites of food that aren’t in your dog’s normal diet might be OK, as long as those foods aren’t dangerous.
For a little more on foods to avoid and foods that can be good for your dogs at BBQ’s, visit our friends’ posts:
- You Did What With Your Weiner: 7 Easy Summer Barbeque Recipes Both You and Your Dog Can Eat
- Kol’s Notes: 5 Ways to Dog Proof Your Summer BBQ
- Life with Beagle: Planning a Cookout? Summer Food Guide for Dogs
All of these posts have some great ideas, recipes, and additional tips to keep your dogs safe at BBQ’s.
You should also be aware of other things your dog might eat or get into, such as wild growing plants like mushrooms that could be poisonous. It is prudent to keep your dog off someone’s chemically treated lawn, and out of their gardens. Consideration of others is a golden rule, even though I know not all people abide by that!
You don’t want your dog approaching other dogs or people without permission, nor do you want them running off chasing a squirrel, chipmunk, or especially a cat. In our case, with Luke, I need to be aware of anything around us that might distract or frighten him, and keeping him by my side is a good way to do that. He is doing very well with our “With Me” cue. I kind of think of that cue as an informal “Heel”. He doesn’t have to be in perfect form beside me, like a show dog or hunting dog might need to be, but I want him close to my side so I can more easily distract him if I need to.
My dogs don’t walk off leash, because I don’t trust a hound dog’s nose not to carry them away, and with Luke’s fears, having him get away from me and getting lost could be tragic. A fearful dog like him might never go to a stranger who might see or find him. But even I could accidentally drop the leash, or have it pulled out of my hand, so being assured that he or Cricket would come back to me is important. Cricket learned “come” when she was young, but we kind of ruined that one with Luke early on (by overusing it), so we changed it to “here”. Often, if it’s both of them, I will say “come here” and they will both respond.
Having a pocket full of treats is a good practice to provide that distraction too, but we also practice without treats (because I’m known to forget them at times!)
Don’t take your dogs’ success at learning for granted either, these things need to be practiced a lot and the nice weather that spring brings before summer can be a perfect time for that. Practicing with treats can be challenging in the winter when we need to wear gloves!
Now here in New England, we’re just hoping that summer actually arrives. Mother Nature seems to be withholding it this year. The Dadz got the pool out and sent me this photo when I was in South Carolina two weeks ago, but since I’ve been home, I’ve only put water in it once.
At least that gives us plenty of time for practicing those cues (when we’re not getting rained on). 😊
What things do you train your dog to do (or not do) to keep them safer in the Summer?
*PS….There is still time left to enter our giveaway for the snuffle mat seen above (giveaway ends Tuesday night)! Click here to learn more and enter to win.*
We are pleased to be co-hosting the Positive Pet Training blog hop with Tenacious Little Terrier and Travels with Barley. Pet bloggers, please join us in this hop by posting your positive pet training stories. The hop remains open through Sunday. Our theme this month is “Summer Safety”, however, you may share any positive pet training story, whether it’s on our theme or not! Please enjoy the posts below as well.