I am busy prepping for my IMDT assessment next week (EEK!) so I asked my friend Jack Fenton, trainer for Helpful Hounds on how to keep squishy face dogs like Frenchies or Pugs safe in this heat! The pic is Kevin – Jack’s dog that he has trained for assistance work.
My name’s Jack, and this is Kevin, one of the demo dogs for Helpful Hounds Assistance Dogs. Myself and the little squish are for the most part loving the hot weather. However, it’s important to remember that while soaking up the sunshine can be wonderful, there are some things we need to keep an eye out for.
Kevin’s a French Bulldog, and like other bracycephalic breeds like Boston Terriers and Pugs, can really struggle to cope with all this heat! And considering that three out of the top five breeds in England are little squishes like Kevin, it’s more important than ever to consider where you’re walking and what you’re doing on those walks!
Here are some tips to help you and your little dude or dudette out on your walks!
1 – Know your dog’s body language!
In my experience, French Bulldog’s are quite difficult dogs to get a read on. I tend to use either the stillness of their body or the different pitches and tones of their snorts to figure out what they’re thinking! However, one excellent way to tell how hot your little squashed-nosed friend is via their tongue. You’ll notice during your walks that your squishes tongue will begin to curve upwards until you begin to see the bottom of it. When your dog’s mouth is wide open and their tongue is curved upwards, it’s time to take a little break, find some shade, and give your dog some nice water!
If you’re concerned at all about how hot your dog is, place your hand on their inner thigh, which gives a good indicator of how warm they are!
2- Take it slow!
We tend to view walks as purely about intense exercise so that your dog can burn off some energy. And while that can be true, I’ve found that the best walks with Kevin are the ones where I take it slow. There’s no need to rush, a casual stroll observing your surroundings and letting your dog potter around sniffing trees and shrubbery is just as effective sometimes as watching your little squashy zoom around a field quicker than your eyes can follow!
3 – Take lots of breaks!
Kevin always lets me know when he’s had enough.
We’ll be wandering along, his breathing will get heavier, and he’ll start scanning the horizon before he dashes off and goes into a down in a nice patch of shade. He’s very good like that, but I know some dogs don’t know when to rest, especially if their owners are quite naturally enjoying their stroll in the sunshine! Make sure you always try and find a shaded area to rest for a few minutes, whether it’s leaning against a tree, sitting on the grass for a cuddle or finding a park bench. Use this time, like your dog will be using it, to examine the surroundings. Look at the wind blowing through the trees, smell the scent of flowers, watch other dogs taking shelter, take some time to just enjoy nature.
4 – Use your dog’s nose!
A walk, as said earlier, doesn’t need to be just about physical exercise. Sometimes mental exercise is just as effective! One of Kevin’s favourite past times is sniffing. He orders pressing his scrunched face into long grass, gathering up as much scent as he possibly can.
I’m fortunate enough to live near a bit of woodland that leads onto a large field with trees that provide shade on it. We tend to walk to the large field, find a spot of shade, and I will throw a large amount of food into the grass for him to find! I’ve yet to met a squishy that doesn’t enjoy a bit of scentwork, and them spending twenty minutes in the shade snorting and sniffling for delicious treats will tire them out just as much as physical exercise, without the drawback of them becoming increasingly hot!
You can find Jack and Helpful Hounds on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/helpfulhoundsassistancedogs/
or their website: www.helpfulhounds.org