When you think of summer, what comes to mind? Chasing fireflies, cookouts under the stars, trips to the beach? For me – and I’m sure, countless dog lovers like me – summer means it’s time for new adventures with a favorite furry friend (or two). Here are eight ways to have summer fun with your dog before the season ends.
Got a backyard? Or even just a kiddie pool and a driveway? Then you’ve got all the makings of a pooch-friendly summer splash fest! Break out a couple squeaky toys and invite your neighbor’s well-behaved pups over for an afternoon of frolicking in the water … or romping around the sprinkler.
Don’t forget to lay down thick, fluffy towels if your pup’s paws will be in contact with hot pavement for any length of time. Our dog Maizy prefers to loll around on these and “sunbathe” while her rowdier canine companions splash it up.
Dogs don’t perspire in the same way humans do. Dogs actually “sweat” through their paws — but mainly, they cool themselves down by panting. According to most veterinary data, the average resting dog breathes in and out 10 to 30 times per minute. But my vet says a panting dog can often breathe in and out up to 400 times per minute. Cooling off your dog’s mouth can help make him feel cooler more quickly … and nothing says summer like a yummy pupsicle!
Try this: Combine 1/3 cup applesauce, 1/4 cup rice milk, 1 cup unsweetened nonfat yogurt, 2 ounces chopped bacon, and 3 teaspoons creamy peanut butter in a bowl. Mix well, then pour into paper cups, popsicle molds, or ice cube trays. Freeze until solid (extra credit: Insert a skinny carrot stick or your dog’s favorite long, crunchy treat as the “handle”).
When the weather is nice, get outside with your best furry friend! Walking at even a moderate pace on a warm summer day is enough to tucker out most pups (and who am I kidding, owners). We often check around with local park districts and tourism bureaus to find scenic nature trails and walking paths that are canine-friendly.
It’s also fun to take a short road trip out of our immediate area – for example, we sometimes like to visit a nearby lake or the dunes. But whatever destination you choose, just be sure to bring along plenty of fresh, clean water and a container that will let your pup drink freely. We especially like easy-to-tote, collapsible canvas bowls. Another convenient option is the Gulpy, which combines a water bottle and drinking trough in one streamlined, portable package.
Tight on time or money? Explore in your own backyard! Check out dog-friendly restaurants and coffee shops in your area and sip refreshing beverages on their patios. Or simply take a long, leisurely walk or two. Cap off the day with a backyard barbecue that includes some dog-friendly chicken burgers for your best furry friend.
When dusk approaches, get creative. For example, we found a drive-in not too far from where we live. Now, whenever we want to see the latest summer blockbuster, one flat fee lets the whole family – including our pups! – enjoy movie night under the stars.
Random summer rainstorm got you down? Use your inside time to learn fun new tricks! A big favorite in our house is the “High Five”— really just a cute variation on “shake” that never fails to earn a few chuckles from observers.
Start by commanding your dog to sit, then reward with a treat. Next, hold a treat out in front of your pup just slightly out of reach. Clearly say “high five” while softly tapping one of his front paws. Most dogs will instinctively raise their foot to paw at the treat. As your dog raises his foot, tap his lifted paw with your upraised palm, and the moment you make contact, say “high five” again. Reward with the treat and lavish praise; then repeat these steps until your dog gives a “high five” on command. Fruitables are a great healthy, low-cal snack that won’t pack on the pounds while your pup is still learning.
Don’t just play with your pup … get the whole family in on the action! At our house, we especially enjoy a version of “Pickle in the Middle.” Have each family member sit or stand in a large circle with a small supply of treats in their pockets. Begin tossing one of your dog’s favorite toys back and forth across the circle, and encourage your pup to chase it by yelling “get it!”
Every fourth or fifth toss, someone should allow your furry friend to catch the toy. When this happens, that person offers a tiny treat while the entire family praises your pup excitedly. Then, everyone backs up a couple inches to start a new round. A few repetitions can really help energetic pups blow off some steam.
These are just a few of the ways to sneak in some summer fun before the season ends. What are some of your personal furry-friend favorites? Share in the comments!
Read more about dog-centric summer fun on Dogster:
About the author: Marybeth Bittel is a freelance writer who lives in the Midwest with her wonderful husband, her crazy rescue dog Grant, and her level-headed rescue dog Maizy – all of them Heinz 57 mixed breed types. Marybeth identifies as mostly Italian, so she enjoys feeding family, friends and furkids almost as much as Grant and Maizy enjoy eating. She’s also a marketing communications consultant and former marketing/PR exec. Connect with her on LinkedIn or — to see her latest pet pics (and be careful what you wish for here) — check out her family Instagram feed.