Q: Now that summer is here, do you have any suggestions for ways to keep my dogs cool and happy? I am on a limited budget.
A: I do a lot with ice during the summer, Mary. Ice cubes in water bowls, ice cubes along with water in a designated kiddie pool, etc. You can toss some treats or kibble into the pool to encourage your dogs to get in. One of my favorite things to offer both my large and smaller dogs is a previously emptied plastic bottle (think empty soda type containers), filled partially with water and frozen. I put out a number of these at a time.
Sometimes the dogs will simply lay next to them to take advantage of the extra coolness; other times they will roll them around and chew on them. If your dog wishes to chew on it, best to put him out on the patio or in a laundry room with towels to deal with the melting of the ice. Just be sure to remove and discard the bottle before your dogs are able to chew it to bits.
I turn on the hose and move the stream of water around for my dogs to chase and catch. They get a good soaking this way, along with a good amount of exercise. If your dog isn’t into chasing water, he’ll likely just enjoy getting drenched with the hose. Keep his head and ears dry, but wet the rest of his body and enjoy his antics as he shakes off and dries himself.
During these hot stretches, my dogs may not get enough exercise and stimulation outside, so I try to keep them busy inside as much as possible. Any toy that has a port for stuffing treats can be stuffed and frozen for more consuming enjoyment.
Q: While walking my dog on the sidewalk last week, we were approached by a lady pushing a stroller who also had a small dog. As we got closer to each other, both of our dogs got excited. No one was hurt, but both of our dogs were out of control, and my dog briefly got her leash tangled in the stroller. What can be done to make sure this doesn’t happen again?
A: I’m not going to answer your question from a dog training standpoint, but rather from a “guidelines for walking your dog in public” perspective. If dog walkers would unite and follow a general code of conduct when out with their dogs, I think many mishaps would be avoided. Whether your dog is friendly with other dogs and people, well trained or not, these guidelines would be beneficial to us all.
First, yield to other pedestrians, whether they are walking a dog or not. By doing so, you are preventing your dog from having contact with a stranger and/or an unknown dog, whose behavior toward your dog may or may not be appropriate. If you are approaching one another from opposite directions on the same sidewalk, walk up onto a driveway to allow the other person to pass on the sidewalk, keeping your dog at a controllable distance.
If needing to pass someone walking the same direction as you, cross the street or move into the street to pass them, making a wide arc to keep plenty of distance between you.
Sometimes even the nicest, most friendly dog will come unglued when out in public. If your dog begins to growl, bark or lunge at a person or other dog, that is not the time to stop and scold or correct it. Most importantly, keep moving; as the distance increases you will be able to gain better control and aid your dog in collecting and quieting himself. Another possibility is to get your dog behind something to block his view, like a parked car or fence.
These are good options if your dog is the one being barked and lunged at, as well. Remember, if your dog barks and lunges at other people, dogs or objects, it’s a clear sign that he’s uncomfortable. If it’s a frequent occurrence, consult with a professional trainer who can assist you in helping your dog over that hurdle.
If you walk your dog on a retractable leash, be sure to real him in close to you when passing others. This way you’ll maintain better control and limit his options in terms of movement. And finally, don’t wait for the other person to make the avoidance move. It’s not about who was there first, or which party should be the one to yield.
By being polite and mannerly, you can help everybody avoid possible conflicts, as well as setting a good example. Maybe it will catch on, and your neighbors will emulate you. Borrowing from Mahatma Ghandi here, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” Helen!