Training Tips and Tricks Part 8 - The Silly Season
With generally the busiest part of the year all but upon us I thought it important to highlight a few things to look out for and to help our hounds with the possible chaos around them.
Food glorious food
With parties and festivities going on there is an abundance of rich tasty food about. If you are entertaining at your home make sure you keep your hound safe by not allowing them access to eat anything they shouldn't.
Some things to watch out for which are really bad for dogs are:
Drinks - Alcohol & Caffeine
Food - Avocado, raisins, grapes, mushroom, chocolate and cooked bones
If your hound can't be trusted to leave guests and their food alone (or your guests can't be trusted to not give your hound titbits off their plate!) then it may be safest to exclude him from the party. Just whilst everyone is eating. Once all the leftovers are cleaned up he can come back and join in the fun.
Let common sense prevail - do not:
Leave advent calendars filled with Chocolate at needle nose height - move them to a safe place that your hound can't reach
Leave edible Christmas decorations on the tree - or even decorations that your hound may want to play with and could swallow and/or choke on
Leave plates with leftover food and drinks unsupervised
Leave meat, especially the Christmas turkey, to defrost anywhere your hound might be able to get at it
By all means involve your hound in the festivities but the last thing you want is a rushed trip to your vet because your hound has consumed something he shouldn't. Some brush up training on 'leave it' is also a good idea!
Exercise in summer
The days are warming up and the sun is out for longer. This means you may need to change your routine a bit. Walks should be in the cooler parts of the day, earlier in the morning and into the evening at the height of summer.
Never walk your hound in the heat of the day, they heat up very quickly and can burn their pads on hot concrete and tarmac. Dogs can get heatstroke just like people and it can be fatal.
Swimming can be great fun in the warmer months, some hounds only like a paddle but others jump right into the deep end! In the height of summer at the weekends we take our hounds up to the bush for a walk along the shady tracks and stops in the river. They love the change of scenery and the coolness the bush offers.
If you do walk your hound near water be very careful of toxic algae in the area. Most councils have warnings when levels become dangerous and if there are warnings then my advice is to keep your hound on a lead and do not let him near the water. A couple of mouthfuls of Toxic Algae poisoned water can be quickly fatal.
If you are not lucky enough to live close to a river track or bushwalk, a small child's paddling pool can offer relief and fun for your hound. Dogs don't sweat and lose heat by panting and through the pads on their feet. Putting paws (and even their whole body) in cool water is a great way to help your hound cool down, just don't let him go from cool pool to hot ground as he will cook his pads and it will be very painful for him.
Dogs in cars
It is a very bad idea to leave your hound in a car on a hot day for any length of time. Especially if precautions are not taken. If it is 22 degrees outside your car can heat up to 47 degrees in as little as an hour. Dogs pant to lose heat and if they are just panting hot stuffy air they are very quickly going to overheat.
If you must leave your dog in the car in summer, for any length of time, make sure they have access to water, park in a very shady spot and leave windows open as wide as you can to allow ventilation. And if you are travelling with your hound make sure you keep the aircon on cool for them. I always travel in a jersey in summer so I can turn the car into a fridge for the hounds - well that's what it feels like but they seem grateful for it!
The same thoughts need to be taken into consideration in other hot places where temperatures can heat up very quickly. Our dogs spend a lot of time in the conservatory, but in summer this room turns into an oven. Your hound must be allowed access to a cool spot to keep their temperature at a safe level.
Most hounds I know are sun worshipers, they'll lay in the heat having a great sunbathe, slowly they'll start to pant and before you know it their whole body is heaving. Many a time have I looked at our hounds and told them exasperatedly 'go lay in the shade', they just give me a heavy panting smile. But eventually they will pick themselves up and toddle off to find a cool spot to lay down in.
Everyone knows greyhounds have a thin skin, little body fat and a thin coat so they feel the cold. They also feel the heat. They don't have the fat and coat to regulate their temperature that other dogs do. It's up to you to give your hound a suitable environment for the temperatures that Mother Nature gives us.
Have a very safe and happy Christmas and use some of that time off work (if you are lucky enough to have time off work) to do some training with your hound - he'll thank you for it!