Robin and I were in Naples last week performing follow up calls with several of our Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® clients. All of them were doing very well with the system and none of their dogs had gone through the underground fence zone. Everyone thought it was great, but one client had a very important question. He was really happy that he could let his Doberman, Sam, out in the back yard to play with him or just to hang out. He thought it was great that Sam now had all then newfound freedom, but was worried about the heat. Naples can get pretty stifling in the summer. The heat, humidity, and blazing sun can sometimes be really uncomfortable. He was concerned that he might be letting his Doberman outside too long and was wondering if there were any tips we could provide to keep Sam safe from the heat.
I thought that it was great that my client understood the safety risk summer heat can inflict on our dogs. Over the years I have seen people walking their dogs on sidewalks or the street in the middle of a summer day. I have been at outside dog expos where people have their short snouted dogs with them for hours in the direct sunlight and heat. I have heard dogs barking for hours behind back yard fences. These are all caused by dog owners simply not understanding what is happening with their dog.
The first piece of information I wanted to deliver to my client was a clear understanding of how we cool down in the heat and how our dog cools down. I told him that I was clearly not a doctor, so my explanation would be from a “non-physician” perspective. This difference will help build on everything else he will do with Sam in the heat.
When it gets hot, humans sweat. Our body transfers water through our sweat glands to our external skin surface. As air passes over the water on our skin surface, the water (sweat) evaporates. This process causes our skin to cool and regulates our internal body temperature. Since we can sweat over most of our body, this creates a very large “air conditioner” to keep up safe and our temperature acceptable.
When our dogs get hot, they don’t sweat. Dogs don’t sweat, they pant. Panting is their way of managing their internal body temperature. As they open their mouth, their moist tong is exposed to the air and the moisture on the tong evaporates. This helps to manage the dog’s internal temperature. The problem that a dog experiences is that the surface of his tong is a small fraction of his entire body surface. When the air temperature gets overly hot, the dog’s panting can’t keep up with the rise of his overall skin temperature and his internal body temperature will dangerously rise.
The point I was trying to make with my client was that our dogs can quickly overheat while we are standing right next to them and still feel fine. We have a larger cooling mechanism than they do.
Because of this, we need to establish general rules about being outside in the summer so that we can protect our dogs from the heat even though we don’t feel it ourselves. I provided him with my summer heat guidelines:
- You can be outside with your dog for up to 20 minutes at a time in the morning until about 9AM. By then, the sun had risen above the trees. The temperature normally hasn’t become overly hot, so it is ok to play with your dog in moderation. Always have fresh, cool water easily available. If you have come inside and are going out again, wait for at least one hour to make sure your dog has cooled off.
- You can only be outside for no more than 10 minutes at a time with your dog from 9AM until 6PM. This is the time when it can be most oppressive down here in South Florida. When you are out, try and keep your dog in the shade, minimize crazy play, and always have fresh, cool water easily available. If you are going out again, wait at least two to three hours to make sure your dog has cooled off
- You can be outside with your dog for 20 minutes at a time from 6PM to 9PM. The sun is still up and the “hotness” of the day is still going down. You can play a little more with him, but don’t over-do it and always have fresh, cool water easily available. If you are going out again, wait at least one hour to make sure your dog has cooled off.
- After 9PM at night, the sun has gone down and hit has “relatively” cooled off. You can play for a longer period outside with your dog or take a longer walk.
I then wanted to give him some interesting tips on ground temperature in South Florida during the summer. We discussed the fact that there had been a study done (actually in Naples) that showed the sidewalk temperature to raise up to 120 degrees between noon and 4pm in the afternoon. This is enough to provide a medium level of pain and redness to a dog’s exposed paws. At the same time, the temperature of a freshly paved street (new asphalt) could easily reach a temperature of 150 degrees. This will cause 2nd degree burns on a dog’s feet.
My client was amazed and commented on how foolish he was. He said he always put his sandals on when he took Sam for a walk during the day because the sidewalk was really hot. He didn’t understand why Sam was always pulling to get off the sidewalk. Now he knew.
Next, I wanted to help my client understand that there are different rules for different dogs. Although this is more of a “rule of thumb”, I explained that it is far more difficult for short snouted dogs to cool off in the summer heat than long snouted dogs like his Doberman. This is because a short snouted dog has a smaller mouth and smaller tong than large snouted dogs with bigger mouths. Their ability to cool off and regulate their body temperature is drastically reduced. I suggested that you should cut my “outside times” to 15 minutes in the morning and evening and 5 minutes during the middle of the day for short snouted dogs.
Finally, I wanted to provide a suggestion that he could do with Sam or his friends could do with their dogs when outside in the heat in order to “check on them”. Just as our mother put their hand on our forehead to see if we were hot and had a temperature, we should put our hand on our dog’s skin to feel their skin temperature. If it feels hot, bring them inside and make sure they have water. I would even suggest putting a cool, wet towel on them.
I underscored that these guidelines were not designed to make life boring for us and our dogs during the hot, summer months. We could still have a lot of fun with them inside where it was cooler. These suggestions are simply designed to keep everyone safe so that we could continue to build a great bond and have a wonderful life together.
It is our job to keep our dogs safe all the time. Even though we may not feel overheated, remember that our dogs are normally more active than we are and their ability to cool off is far different than our process. Also, they can’t tell us “Hey, it’s hot out here!”. Robin and I will always answer any questions about home dog training or out of sight dog fences. Please go to Dog Fence Training Help Naples South Florida or give us a ring at (954) 472-4724. We have additional Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® and dog training information at Best Out of Sight Dog Fence Trainers Naples South Florida. Robin and I are the “go-to” dog professionals for over 3,500 dogs and families in Naples and all over South Florida. If your dog can’t is disobedient or misbehaves, we are also your best dog training solution. Learn more about our Obedience and Behavior Dog Training Programs by going to Home Dog Training Naples South Florida.