One challenge we all experience during the summer is how to burn enough energy as the temperature rises. Walks are spread out further between and many canines become destructive as they’re bored and have pent up energy. Here are some ideas on ways to challenge our furry friends mentally and physically when it’s too hot to be outside.
One question I often ask clients is how they feed their dog. This is a great opportunity to burn energy, for there are many tools that provide enrichment during mealtime. During the summer, I switch from regular bowls to slow feeder bowls. This makes my furry friends work a little harder for their meal, and for the higher energy canines I use a Kong Wobbler. This toy allows for the pup to bat around the toy that only lets treats or their kibble come out sporadically. When they’re done, they’re typically just as tired as they would be if they went for a walk!
Puzzles are another way to stimulate and challenge the canine brain and there are so many different ones to choose from. My favorite brands for this are Outward Hound and Dognition. They can be found with varying levels on the challenge scale and are available on amazon.com or chewy.com. Depending on the size of the puzzle, you can even feed meals this way as well!
The Kong and other enrichment toys can be a marvelous addition to any summer routine. The biggest problem I see is most people put peanut butter in the Kong and the dog either eats it fast and they’re off to doing bad things, or they’re not as interested in it. Kong has a great recipe page on their website with great ideas on how to stuff it, but I like to be creative and come up with various ways to challenge them. Freezing canned dog food inside the Kong is a quick, high value stuffing that lasts much longer than most other stuffing options. Most people do not realize it but they’re microwave, dishwasher and freezer safe, so it’s easy to clean and start over again! One last note when it comes to the Kong, make sure you have the right size and strength for your dog’s jaws. For heavy chewers, we use the Extreme Kong and for puppies and senior dogs, the Rubber Kong is more flexible for their jaws.
Training can also be a great way to stimulate the brain. In fact, I love to teach my dogs to find treats and use their nose to stimulate them while using an innate strength. Nose work can tire a canine friend faster than one would believe. I first start by placing a treat on the ground and cue “FIND IT.” Once they find it, I will go on hiding more treats and continue to make it more challenging for them. Encouraging those natural foraging behaviors helps stimulate mentally and physically, more than ever.
Another fun way to invigorate their minds through commands, is playing the come game. We play hide and seek with the dogs and challenge them to find us. Tricks can also be a fun relationship builder and a way to burn energy. Teaching a new trick each day can really be a fun way to beat the heat!
Living in the desert with extreme weather makes it tough to give everything we want to give our canine companions. However, there are many things we can do that not only burn energy, but these summer fun ideas can also help with creating and maintaining the best relationship between canines and their handlers!