Summer is a busy time, especially for those of us in climates that have limited warm weather. Everyone is out and about with their dogs, trying to cram in as much outdoor enjoyment as they can in the few weeks we have.
There are many of us, most with reactive dogs, who prefer the quieter times to be outdoors. However, your dog doesn’t have to be reactive, any dog can find themselves in a situation that makes them uncomfortable or is even dangerous. With Luke and Cricket, I simply try to walk at quieter times, but there’s never a guarantee that something won’t come along to distract them or any dog.
It is our job as responsible pet parents to be sure our dogs are safe and comfortable and many times that means keeping them safely by our sides. We need to be aware of the different challenges of summer: not just the extra activity of more dogs and people around, but many foods at picnics and barbecues, and more wildlife around that can be a distraction for any dog.
There are three cues that can help keep your dog safer in these situations:
- “Leave It”
- “Come” or “Here”
- “Heel” or “With Me”
Knowing your dog is key as well. If you trust your dog off leash, then you especially need to be sure that they will leave things alone they shouldn’t have, stay by your side when you need them to, or come back to you when there is a danger or distraction around. Even dogs on leashes can dart far enough away to get into something they shouldn’t if you’re not paying attention.
My experience with people is that many think dogs can eat just about anything. They aren’t aware that you might be watching your dogs’ weight, that they might have an allergy, or even that many foods can be toxic to dogs. You have to be diligent in watching people, but you also must be aware that people are sloppy, and might drop things your dog might want to snatch right up!
“Leave It” (and alternatively “drop it” or “give”) is important to know, to be sure that won’t happen. Many times, just a day of overeating a bit at a picnic, and having a few bites of food that aren’t in your dog’s normal diet might be OK, as long as those foods aren’t dangerous.
For a little more on foods to avoid and foods that can be good for your dogs at BBQ’s, visit our friends’ posts:
- You Did What With Your Weiner: 7 Easy Summer Barbeque Recipes Both You and Your Dog Can Eat
- Kol’s Notes: 5 Ways to Dog Proof Your Summer BBQ
- Life with Beagle: Planning a Cookout? Summer Food Guide for Dogs
All of these posts have some great ideas, recipes, and additional tips to keep your dogs safe at BBQ’s.
You should also be aware of other things your dog might eat or get into, such as wild growing plants like mushrooms that could be poisonous. It is prudent to keep your dog off someone’s chemically treated lawn, and out of their gardens. Consideration of others is a golden rule, even though I know not all people abide by that!
You don’t want your dog approaching other dogs or people without permission, nor do you want them running off chasing a squirrel, chipmunk, or especially a cat. In our case, with Luke, I need to be aware of anything around us that might distract or frighten him, and keeping him by my side is a good way to do that. He is doing very well with our “With Me” cue. I kind of think of that cue as an informal “Heel”. He doesn’t have to be in perfect form beside me, like a show dog or hunting dog might need to be, but I want him close to my side so I can more easily distract him if I need to.
My dogs don’t walk off leash, because I don’t trust a hound dog’s nose not to carry them away, and with Luke’s fears, having him get away from me and getting lost could be tragic. A fearful dog like him might never go to a stranger who might see or find him. But even I could accidentally drop the leash, or have it pulled out of my hand, so being assured that he or Cricket would come back to me is important. Cricket learned “come” when she was young, but we kind of ruined that one with Luke early on (by overusing it), so we changed it to “here”. Often, if it’s both of them, I will say “come here” and they will both respond.
Having a pocket full of treats is a good practice to provide that distraction too, but we also practice without treats (because I’m known to forget them at times!)
Don’t take your dogs’ success at learning for granted either, these things need to be practiced a lot and the nice weather that spring brings before summer can be a perfect time for that. Practicing with treats can be challenging in the winter when we need to wear gloves!
Now here in New England, we’re just hoping that summer actually arrives. Mother Nature seems to be withholding it this year. The Dadz got the pool out and sent me this photo when I was in South Carolina two weeks ago, but since I’ve been home, I’ve only put water in it once.
At least that gives us plenty of time for practicing those cues (when we’re not getting rained on). ????
What things do you train your dog to do (or not do) to keep them safer in the Summer?
*PS….There is still time left to enter our giveaway for the snuffle mat seen above (giveaway ends Tuesday night)! Click here to learn more and enter to win.*
We are pleased to be co-hosting the Positive Pet Training blog hop with Tenacious Little Terrier and Travels with Barley. Pet bloggers, please join us in this hop by posting your positive pet training stories. The hop remains open through Sunday. Our theme this month is “Summer Safety”, however, you may share any positive pet training story, whether it’s on our theme or not! Please enjoy the posts below as well.
I live out in Tucson, Arizona so this post stood out to me as I perused your blog feed. Since it’s warm here almost year-round, all of the commands you list are ones I practice with my pups for the reasons you explain:)
During the summer in AZ, walks occur at either 6am or well after the sun has gone down, so running into coyotes or javelinas is entirely possible. And snakes, including rattlesnakes. The extra training we did this year before summer started was a Rattlesnake Avoidance Class. Our pup is just over a year old, so I was super nervous watching him learn to not investigate the various rattlesnakes. Not the most pleasant training, but incredibly necessary out here in the desert Southwest.
That is so interesting! While I enjoy a lot of training with my dogs, I don’t think I’d enjoy that! Kudos to you for doing it in spite of that. It does sound very important for where you live. We don’t get a lot of super hot weather here, but when we do, we try to get out early (I’m a morning person so it’s morning or never! :). I definitely have to be more on alert for wildlife at those times.
GROOVY GOLDENDOODLES says
Great information. You shared valuable tips. But I must say, when I got to that last photo of Cricket’s butt I laughed out loud Too funny.
I swear I have more photos of her butt than anything else! LOL. Even when I’m looking for shots for other posts, I have to weed through a bunch to actually get to one where she’s facing the camera!
2 Brown Dawgs says
To my mind, recall is the most important thing. We practice it all the time.
Susan - The4legged says
I use all of those for my Dachshund but It wasn’t really effective. So that, I have to create my own ” 3 steps” rule. It pays to be smart and safe! 🙂
With some dogs you have to think outside the box! For example, we’ve had far more success with these cues with our Lab mix, Luke, than with our beagle, Cricket.
Lauren Miller (ZoePhee) says
Great post! I think recall and leave it are probably the two most important summer things to work on. We’re always working on recalls since we hike the girls off leash so frequently.
Miss Harper Lee says
When Harper Lee started obedience school, the trainer told us that “Come” was the most important command we could master. I saw that in action one day when Harper Lee was calmly sitting at my side on the porch one minute and chasing after a squirrel that was about to cross the street the next. I immediately yelled “Come” (a little like a crazy person and much to my delight (and a little to my surprise) she stopped dead in her tracks and ran back to me. I truly think knowing that command could have saved her life at that moment.
For Tallulah, “Leave it” is the most important command. We live in an urban area and people tend to drop food (and cats tend to poo) and Tallulah tends to want to eat everything. We’re still working on consistently following the “Leave it” command. Not following it can be a little disgusting. 😉
Yes, there are definitely situations where these commands can be life saving, and I’m so glad you had Miss Lee prepared for that!
We learned that the hard way with our second dog, Maggie. She did not listen to our neighbor when she was in his care, and ended up getting hit by a car. That’s actually one of the main reasons we mostly keep our dogs on leash, or in a fenced yard, and work harder at training now (though actually she WAS on a leash, but pulled it out of his hand). 🙁
Jodi Stone says
These are great cues for your dog to know. I often times find myself using different cues though, and I’m excited that my dogs seem to understand what I mean. Often times on our walks, it is so quiet that as soon as I say anything at all, the dog is looking to me. Which is good!
There are a lot of trainers who disagree with using the word “No” or “Stop” but I find these cues helpful as well. This makes me think of a post about all the different cues I use. Honestly, I’m lucky my guys keep up with me.
I experience that same thing sometimes. Luke especially isn’t big on words anyway….I think he responds to my body language or the situation sometimes to figure out what I want. Often I can just say their names to get their attention and that’s all we need.
I agree about “no”. I use that as well. Cricket learned it when she was younger (I knew zero about positive training back then anyway), and it just came out with Luke. I found that he responded well to it so I will continue to use it as long as it doesn’t seem to upset them, and it doesn’t.
Good tips! Good thing my dogs already learnt them all 🙂
The Island Cats says
Those are excellent tips! We’re sure when dogs are outside they can manage to find trouble no matter what. 🙂
You’ve got that right….LOL!
Tenacious Little Terrier says
I hope summer gets there soon! Leave it and come are also big cues in our house. Now that summer is here, people are out walking their mini-horses, cats are sunning themselves everywhere and chickens are on the loose!
We hear a rumor summer will be here by the weekend. Hopefully it really shows up this time!
We had two horses (full size) wander right into our yard a few weeks ago. The dogs went completely nuts!
M. K. Clinton says
Summer means snakes around here and I HATE snakes of any variety. Luckily, the boys have a “snake” bark that is different from any other of their barks. I was very impressed with Pierre when he kills a varmint, he will drop it on command. (They tend to ignore me in their own backyard)
Good job, Pierre! I always remember the time our beagle Kobi had a mouse in his mouth, and he was not giving that thing up for anything! He didn’t have a clue what “leave it” meant – LOL!
Dolly the Doxie says
Hahaha that Cricket! And you are so right about the commands. Taffy got away from mom on Sunday in the park, she completely disappeared chasing squirrels, she called dad and everything for help. Found her in the garden where mom cut through trying to cut her off only to find out that’s where she went. And you can forget all about recall when Taffy starts hunting. Thanks for the tips now if we could only follow them. Love Dolly
Well, just keep working at it and maybe one day all of the sudden it will all click!
Our beagle Kobi was like Taffy…only with him he only had to get on the scent of something, and he’d wander off and ignore us completely when we found him!
Brian Frum says
Those were great tips and very wise too. It pays to be smart and safe!
Monika & Sam says
“Leave it” was the first command we taught Elsa and has been a good one for her to have learned (along with wait (aka stay). That ‘submarine’ pic made me laugh so much, I nearly snorted. P.S. It’s warm out west so I think you’ll be having nice weather in a few days as it moves along eastward.
I think you’re right….we hear the warmth is finally headed our way!
Monika & Sam says
For your sake, let’s hope it forgets to bring the humidity along with the warm temps. 😉
OMD! The Cricket butt did me in!
You’ve highlighted some of my favorite cues as well. But I’m finding many of them are being poisoned for Honey because now that my husband and I are both working from home, he’s getting a lot more chances to make bad training moves.
Any ideas for training the husband?
Or maybe a future pet training blog hop topic could be beyond the pet training–communicating with people so they don’t mess up your hard work (or something like that). Not sure I could write anything on the topic. But I’d love to read what everyone else has to say.
I’m not sure I could cover that topic either, but it would sure be a good one! I preferred to mostly not know what was going on at home when I was gone for 10 days. Hubby likes to play fast and loose with the rules at times. LOL
That reminds me of when we had our Lab mix Maggie. We worked SO hard to keep her from jumping on people and whenever we went to our camp, the campground owner would come by and encourage her to jump on him, thank you very much. Well, he got his one day when she came up underneath him and clipped him really hard in the chin. Ain’t karma grand? LOL
Not much changes for us on summer walks except there are more wabbits and squirrels. My younger sisters are crazy wild when they see a critter. I have learned to just be mellow about it. Mom’s arms will get longer trying to hold onto the wild ones! Bailie is getting better, but Madison is really into critters.
Critters aren’t much of an issue for us. I think both dogs have their noses on the ground or in the bushes so much they wouldn’t even see one if it walked right by them! LOL
Well, actually that’s more Luke than Cricket. Cricket is like a drill sergeant walking….she bulls forward and just wants to GO…no distractions please!
Great tips! The busyness of summer rarely affects my walks with the dogs at home but town becomes even more overwhelming for Shyla, especially with people doing crazy games like flying kites.
That photo of Cricket is a hysterical!!!
I thought a little laugh at the end would be nice to lighten things up. 🙂
We tend to avoid town, and stick mostly to our quiet road and woods. But that’s more because it’s my preference than theirs. 🙂
I use all of those with Torrey. Leave it, or drop it, is no doubt the most important. She has put some not so good things in her mouth that she will drop for me if I ask.
Luke surprises me how well he does with leave it or give it. There’s only one thing he will fight me on….a tissue. He just does not want to give those up for some reason…LOL! At least they’re harmless!
Oh my gosh. That picture of Cricket is a hoot! I’ve actually been missing wearing gloves on our walks–even though it’s definitely more challenging to get the treats to the dogs, Rye nips so hard when she gets excited (which is pretty much any time we walk out the front door) that my finger tips are missing that extra layer!
That is a very good point about the gloves. Both dogs can be nippy at times too, when they are too excited. I do have one pair of gloves that I can handle things pretty well with (I need a new pair though because they’re old and no longer keep my hands warm).
When we’re practicing in the yard I sometimes wear my gardening gloves (which I wear when I’m throwing the slimy ball anyway). 🙂
Ha! Look at silly Cricket!
We’ve been practicing recalls in one of our off-leash areas. I’ve been working on having Leo come to me (for cheese) whenever anyone comes through without a dog. I’ve also successfully called him away from other dogs, much to my surprise! Now we’re working on having him come back to me with the ball, instead of dropping it at the other end of the field for me to retrieve. (He doesn’t realize that he’s supposed to do the fetching!)
It sounds like you are doing great! Hopefully Leo gets that fetch thing figured out. Luke prefers keep away himself, and let’s his sister handle all the fetching and retrieving. 🙂
leave it is the most used phrase in our crib… think it can become the phrase of the year ;o) I love the pool photo, that is priceless!!!!!
If only we had a nickel (or your equivalent!) for every time we say it, right? 🙂