Summer is here! And with that comes all the great opportunities to take your puppy places! We have actually talked about a few great places to take your puppy, as well as what to bring with you when you do. But with summertime comes the heat and humidity we have come to expect.
I want to share some ideas and thoughts I usually have before I decide whether or not I am going to take my 4-year-old Boxer Mix, Zoey, with me when we go anywhere during the summer.
- 01 of 07
Is The Ground Too Hot?
This is a point that most people don’t think about first, but it is always my first consideration. Think about it, if you were going to hang out with your friends and the only seating option was sitting on a curb in the middle of a parking lot, would you want to do that? Personally, I would pass and may judge my friend harshly that invited me as well!
When you are considering whether to take your dog, think about where they will be spending their time. They don’t usually get to sit in the nice chairs, on the benches, or at the picnic tables. So if they aren’t able to sit with you, where will they be sitting? One of our local breweries has a beautiful back patio, half of it is brick with picnic tables while the other side is a nice grass field. The grass is a perfect place to hang out, but last time I went, the grass area was closed off for some repairs so everyone that brought their dog was forced to sit with them on the bricks. Had I brought Zoey, I would have had to head somewhere else because it was way too hot for a boxer mix on that ground.
My job as the primary caregiver of my dog is: do what is best for my dog. Sometimes that trumps what I want. No matter how much I am wanting a frosty cold Saison, if my dog is going to suffer then it is time to go somewhere else.
- 02 of 07
Will There Be Shade?
My next consideration is whether or not there will be shade there that is large enough for my dog to comfortably lay in, have her own personal space, and be comfortable.
As we have traveled around the country with our dog, I have had a chance to see MANY different versions of what people consider a good place for a dog. And I can say that there is no consistency. While in Atlanta, there were 2 restaurants side by side that were both “dog friendly”. One simply had a sign the said “Leave dogs here” on the outside of their patio fence, which had zero shade and was also the sidewalk for a major shopping area. Um, no thanks. Their neighboring restaurant had a great little dog waiting area. Right next to, but out of the way of the patio entrance, they had a nice portable umbrella that covered the area, a couple of good places to tie up your puppy, and a water bowl FULL of water and ice. Needless to say we enjoyed their hospitality and had a nice meal while Zoey relaxed in the shade and watched the world go by.
If you are planning on going somewhere new with your pet, google street view can be a good way to check out their patio situation. And of course, be prepared to make changes as needed if it’s not shaded enough for your puppy.
- 03 of 07
Will Your Dog Have Water?
There is no better way for a restaurant employee to secure a great tip from me than by offering to bring my dog her own water (or just going and bringing it). That shows that this is a place that cares about me and is considerate. That being said, not every place will be prepared to accommodate my dog’s drinking needs (nor do I really expect them to, I just think it is awesome). The amusing thing is that I have noticed it is more city specific as to whether or not someone will bring a drink just for my dog. Some places are just more used to dogs coming with and providing for their comfort.
That being said, it is ultimately your responsibility to prepare for your dogs needs. At a minimum you should always have something for your dog to drink comfortably from, and it would be great if you had a small amount of water that is just for your dog in case you are able to easily access fresh water.
- 04 of 07
Will There Be Other, Controlled Dogs?
Having a Boxer mix, I am very aware of the other dogs that are in a place. Well, I can’t say that it is really the Boxer mix, I was equally as aware when I had a pair of Golden Retrievers as well. My dogs have always been a fan of their own personal space, so I try to assess how other peoples dogs will be before I walk into a place. Of course there is a time and place for off leash dogs and social play time. But most of the time, public places are not meant for off leash dogs. As a dog trainer I have heard from so many non-dog owners how they can handle other peoples dogs when they are running around loose and jumping on them, messing with their things, etc. And as dog owners, it is our job to make sure our dog isn’t contributing to this problem.
The first thing to consider when deciding to take your dog somewhere that other dogs will be is what is your dogs comfort level. If your dog has social issues, and you are working on them, then be prepared with all the tools you need to properly train your dog and make their experience great.
Once you are there, make sure you are aware of all the rules that apply to dogs in that area. Leash laws, vaccinations, breed restrictions, and cleanup rules are just a few things to make sure you’re clear on. And please, if there is a requirement for being on leash, respect that. I don’t always think it is fair, but it may be there for a reason that you may be unaware of.
If the area is ok with off-leash dogs, then that doesn’t mean that the world is now your baby-sitter. Your job is still to pay attention to your dog, clean up any messes they make, and most importantly make sure they are being a good dog citizen and interacting with the world around them in a good manner. When in Denver, there is a great bar that is also a dog park. They maintain a rule that if your dog makes a mess, whether or not you saw it happen, you are responsible for cleanup. And if you don’t clean it up you get fined. That made my heart happy to see!
- 05 of 07
Are You Willing To Take Your Stressed Dog Home?
This is a big one for me. Sadly in the South I see so many people treating their dogs like an accessory. They brought their dog because their friends brought their dog! And thats awesome, if your dog is enjoying it. That is a freedom that we get to enjoy that in the past our parents were typically not able to have. But the biggest thing that you have to remember is to pay attention to your dog’s happiness. If your dog is stressed, he needs to go home. He isn’t there to make you look good, attract attention, or make you part of the cool kids. He is there because you brought him along, and he has no choice about what he gets to do. Above all else, your job is to make sure he is still happy, safe, and healthy.
I saw it last week when hanging out that so many dogs had surpassed their level of enjoyment. When all the people were complaining about it being too hot, then you see the poor dogs trying their best to wedge themselves under a table to get a little more shade while the owners didn’t even notice, it was time to take them home. But their owners didn’t go into their day out with the thought of “what’s best for my dog”. If you’re not willing to cut your day short because your dog needs to leave, then do them a favor and leave them at home.
- 06 of 07
What Breed Is Your Dog?
If you picked a breed of dog you are probably acutely aware of their needs when it comes to summer time and heat, hopefully. But often times when you have a mixed breed or a rescue dog you may not know all the breeds buried in there.
Why does my dogs breed matter if he is mix? Let's look at some examples and how it may affect your mix breed.
Dogs that are related to smushed-nosed, or Brachycephalic if you want the $2 word, breeds are obviously going to have problems with heat exchange and cooling off. Dog don’t sweat (except in their feet) so they try to regulate their heat with panting. These dogs don’t have the same mouth surface area so they cannot efficiently cool themselves this way.
Cold-weather dog breeds with a thick undercoat like Akitas, Huskies, Chow Chows, Bernese Mountain Dogs, etc are literally wearing a parka all the time. And if your mix breed dog has some of these dogs in their lineage then that heavy undercoat can be present in your dog.
Older, Over-weight, and Chronically ill Dogs are always to be watched carefully when taking them out and about to do new things, especially when the heat levels start to rise. Since their systems may be compromised in one way or another it is important for you to keep an even closer eye on them.
- 07 of 07
Do What Is Best For Your Pup!
The key here is that you are responsible for your dog! Your job as their owner and care-giver is to determine what is best for them, and provide that. Be careful in the heat, but have fun getting out and about with your dog!