Baby, It’s Hot Out There – Heat Wave Canine Enrichment

indoor food games

The midwest has been having a heat wave this week which has grounded us from hiking. We aren’t fair weather hikers, but 90 plus degrees with humidity is not the best time to hike while wearing a fur coat. That doesn’t mean we are sitting around inside watching TV or that we aren’t getting out on walks. We’re just making some adjustments and coming up with other types of heat wave canine enrichment. I thought I would share our ideas and tips for still keeping Sunny’s mind and body moving when it’s too hot to hit the trails.

Adjust for the Weather

Normally Sunny and I take a very early morning walk, a mid-morning walk, and a late afternoon or evening walk. On days we go hiking the mid-morning walk is on the trails. With these warmer temperatures we are taking our mid-morning walk at 8 or 8:30A. We’ve also stopped our late afternoon walk and just take a short stroll around the block around 8P. And we take water with us on all our walks. It’s still warm, but not nearly as uncomfortable as it would be when the sun is at its highest and the temperature is at its warmest.

Stay Cool When Outside

Despite the temperature, Sunny and I are outside girls. We don’t want to be cooped up inside even when it’s hot. Thankfully our home has a covered patio with a fan so we are able to stay fairly comfortable. We have an outdoor dog bed on the patio and a big bowl filled with ice cubes and water. We also have a lot of trees so our backyard gets a lot of shade. Of course this does not stop Sunny for enjoying the sun and working on her tan, but it does give her a spot to get cool in the shade when she wants to.

When Karlie was with us we had to keep her cool because with her geriatric onset laryngeal paralysis polyneuropathy (GOLPP) the heat made breathing hard for her. So we had a cooling mat that she laid on while outside. We also had a cooling vest that I soaked in water and placed in the freezer. It made it a little hard to put on her, but kept her cool for a long time.

Karlie and her cooling mat
Karlie and her cooling vest

One other way to keep cool outside is to take a kong or similar toy and fill it with plain greek yogurt, peanut butter, mashed sweet potatoes, kibble, or whatever else your dog loves and put it in the freezer. It gives them something to do outside and has the cooling effect of ice cream without too much sugar.

kong filled with yogurt, sweet potatoes, and kibble
heatwave canine enrichment

Take It Inside

Normally we spend most of our day outside, but with the heat we are limiting our backyard time to several hours. When we go inside we play indoor games – agility, food games, fetch with toys, and/or trick training. You can purchase agility equipment (check out Amazon) but you can also make it with PVC, pool noodles, dowels, and cones. This is something we did with Anna and Karlie and have continued with Sunny. For food games I take a variety of different size boxes and put crumpled paper, other boxes, pieces of cardboard, or toys in them and then sprinkle a little kibble. I also have some food puzzles and a snuffle mat. I place these items throughout the family room, even placing some under the coffee table, and just let Sunny investigate at her own pace. It’s great fun for her to sniff, tear, and explore looking for the food. One thing to keep in mind is the food used for enrichment should not be in addition to the daily allotment. You want to make sure your dog does not gain weight and become unhealthy. At the end of every day I measure out Sunny’s food for the next day and put it in my treat bag. This is what I use for her training and enrichment games.

Karlie doing indoor agility
Karlie doing indoor agility
Anna with indoor agility equipment
heat wave canine enrichment for Sunny
indoor heat wave canine enrichment for Sunny

And you know you did a good job with heat wave canine enrichment if your dog passes out like Sunny afterwards.

tired after heat wave canine enrichment

Resources for Heat Wave Canine Enrichment

There are so many options for heat wave canine enrichment and you really are only limited by your creativity. I try to think about what Sunny enjoys – eating, playing, sniffing, and chewing – and think of things we can do that involve those things. If you need ideas google canine enrichment and you will find oodles of ideas. To get you started, here are some resources for making canine enrichment, agility equipment, and food games as well as links to a cooling mat and cooling vest.

Canine Enrichment Basics

PVC Agility Equipment

Enrichment Room – Food Games

Arf Cooling Mat

Ruffwear Cooling Vest

Food Puzzles

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