Don’t know about y’all during the summer months but it gets really HOT here in Texas. During this time of year, I need to plan my dog’s training sessions and conditioning so that we can get the most “bang for our bucks” yet not over heat our dogs.

I know you ask yourself “what is there to do to keep my dogs busy and keep them in shape during the long, hot, dry weather”?  YES, you want to have something up your sleeve to keep your four-legged friends busy, in condition, and out of trouble.

The first thing on my list to do during the hot summer months is to review foundations with my dogs. These are skills that are needed for the venue in which we are getting ready to or are currently showing. For instance, if I am showing in agility, we will review our contact behavior on a board or the stairs. We can work on start-line stays or simple jump drill skills with one to three jumps. If we are showing in obedience or rally, we will review pivots which are the foundation of all heeling turns. We can do “Get It” Games to improve any going out and coming back skills such as a dumbbell retrieve or the turn for go-outs. We can review all the foundation skills that I have used to train my dog. Take a few minutes and remember where your dog’s training started. Write a list of all the foundation skills you used with your dog. If you are having issues when showing, NOW is a great time to brush up on those important skills.

I love to teach my dogs Tricks in the summertime! Why? Because Tricks are a great way to exercise my dog’s body and mind. Tricks such as spin or twirl can help with my dog’s flexibility.  Sitting up and begging can improve my dog’s core strength.

Walking backwards can improve rear end awareness. Picking up toys or dog bowls will improve my retrieves. Whatever you decide to teach your dog will benefit you in some way. Get out your bag of ideas and tricks and train away. Besides, tricks are a super way to impress visitors, kids, any anyone who will watch. Furthermore, they are fun and your dog will enjoy them.
Another area I look at is ways to Exercise my dogs. Keeping fit during the off months is very important and will help prevent injuries in the future. Also, exercises improve balance, endurance, and body awareness. Get pods or foam pads for your dog to stand on for balance. A dog treadmill is great for staying cool while working on endurance and conditioning.

Ladder work teaches your dog how to use his feet. If so inclined, you can work on your balance too.

Let your dog have time off to just be a dog. This is important for your dog’s mental health as well as his physical health. Just like humans, it is good to take a vacation from training and work. Hahahaha. Just take time to let your “hair or ears” down. Activities such as swimming, hiking, going to the beach or just plain “ole” lying around with your feet up in the air make great breaks from training. Find activities that both you and your dog will enjoy and just “DO IT”!

Any of the above suggestions can be built upon and ideas added. Look on the Internet, or buy a book for more ideas. There are LOADS of ways to keep you dog busy and in condition through-out the HOT summer months!

Do you have a training question? AskDebbyQ

Here are a few really great “dog” items I use in everyday life and in training.
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