School’s out, the weather’s getting warmer, the days are getting longer, and…the puppy’s chewing a hole through the new kiddie pool?!
There are several benefits to getting a puppy in the summer. Kids are out of school, so they may have extra time to devote to training and bonding with a new pet. Use the summer as an opportunity to train your puppy, but also as a chance to give the kids an off-season lesson about responsibility. By the time school starts again, you’ll have a fully integrated and trained pup.
It’s hot and he’s small. Exercise with great caution.
Although puppies are balls of energy, they don’t need nearly as much exercise as adults. Fifteen to 20 minutes twice a day in the first few months should suffice. But with soaring summer temperatures, even that much time outside can be too much.
When out for a walk, pay attention to your puppy’s panting and energy level. If you’re feeling hot, assume he is too…and also consider the fur coat he’s wearing. (Pet parents of short-nose breeds like pugs and bulldogs will need to take extra caution, as those breeds are more prone to overheating.) Try to limit walks to early mornings or evenings and carry water with you at all times. Dogs regulate their body temperature from the ground up. Hot asphalt can be dangerous to a puppy’s sensitive paws and will cause his body temperature to rise faster. Walk your dog in the grass and let him splash in a puddle, stream or wading pool to help cool off. Similar to cold-weather booties, you can even opt to protect your dog’s paws with a pair of cooling shoes.
Take it inside.
Due to their smaller size, you may be able to sneak extra exercise indoors by incorporating it with training. Use a long hallway to teach your puppy how to fetch. Or play hide-and-seek: Teach the puppy to “stay” while you go hide, then call to him once and reward him when he finds you. Avoid using stairs for exercise, though, as a puppy’s growth plates are not completely formed and the wrong impact could cause permanent damage.
Let your puppy participate in outdoor fun with some delicious cool treats made just for him. Another way to keep pups cool but entertained is by creating an ice block lick from water and chicken broth. Freeze toys and treats inside the mixture. He’ll love the taste while seeing how many licks it takes to get to the reward.
NEVER, EVER leave your puppy in a parked car.
If you are going anywhere alone, then use your absence as crate-training practice. On an 85-degree day, the temperature inside a car with the windows cracked can break 102 degrees in just ten minutes and reach 120 degrees in 30 minutes. If there is a chance you’d have to leave your pup alone in the car, make other arrangements.
Don’t celebrate your new pup with fireworks.
Dogs are very sensitive to sounds and vibrations. What may seem like a beautiful display of pyrotechnics to you may be a panic-inducing nightmare for a dog – especially a puppy who isn’t accustomed to loud sounds like, say, a hunting dog might be. Aside from the obvious potential hazards of having a curious puppy around brightly colored toy-sized explosives, many fireworks contain heavy metals and other substances that are toxic to animals. Let your puppy stay inside during Independence Day celebrations and leave a radio or TV playing to offset loud noises if you suspect there may be fireworks in the vicinity.
What to do with a puppy when you’re away.
So you finally got that summer vacation planned. Packed, prepped and – wait – the puppy. If your new addition to your family didn’t make the packing list, you have several options for traveling without a pet.
If you can make arrangements with friends or family to keep your puppy or stay with him at your house while you’re away, make sure to familiarize them with your training routine so you don’t lose progress. You may also want to set up “play dates” with your pet sitter so your puppy is comfortable with his interim caregiver.
Often, boarding may be your best bet. But do your research. Take the puppy for visits to the boarder a few times before you leave for the extended period. This will help him become accustomed to the surroundings, get to know other dogs and handlers, and teach him that you’ll come back for him. Also check with the kennel for required shots and make sure your puppy is up to date on immunizations.
Having a pet sitter visit the home for feedings and play may sound like a good idea, but this is not a good option for curious and inexperienced puppies. Even if your pet is house trained properly, they don’t have the experience to avoid danger or understand that you’ll be returning. If you can take puppy with you on vacation, do so. If you can’t, board him or have someone you know stay with your puppy full time.
When in doubt, think it out.
Just like with most wild animals, your puppy has instincts. Wild instincts. Just like small children, puppies need extra care in extreme environments (like in high temperatures and around water). Keep in mind your puppy’s breed and the behaviors he’s inclined to when considering summer activities. And always consult your veterinarian for information about the safety and health of your puppy. Good luck, and remember: the only hot dogs in your yard this summer should be on the grill.