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Heat and Dogs

In the UK in Summer 2022 we have experienced the hottest summer on record with several record breaking days and runs of heat. there is also a drought and this leaves the ground parched and hot, retaining and reflecting the growing ambient heat, day and night. UK homes are not built for extended heat, indeed they are built to reatin heat to coonserve winter fuel. we are unused to heat and dont have air con as the warmer climates have to cool homes.

As the summer has drawn on there have been continuous messages and infographcs to remind guardians of the care needed in hot conditions. Some illustrations are below. There is information graphically to describe the temperatures and conditions which could stress dogs. Explanations of who are the most vulnerable to take care of. Heatstroke symptom checkers. There are also the stark danger warning posts and heartbreaking posts from Vets and guardians alike about dogs who have succumbed.

This blog is not intended to go over tthe basic information offered, they are illustrated within it. This is to offer some background to explain the why Canine Wellness Professionals are so vehement in spreading this message. The warnings are not just the “woolly”over caring dog world they are based in biology.

So many posts and questions abound

“My dog is off his food” “My dog wont go out/is so slow on a walk ” “My dog won’t play much”

” I can’t do the training you want as he just gives up” “She wont even do the fun games” “she is fidgetting all night”

” Just get on with it… dogs in hot countries do” ” they NEED a walk it is cruel not to let them chase after their ball, go running” “Its fine to walk out at midday his paws dont burn he never bothers”

… and on and on. Discussion after discussion. Rant after rant (both the get on with crew and the stay home and keep cool crew.

The background info to the concerns and warnings

Home living domesticated dogs have evolutionarily be bred to live in a temperate climate; neither very hot nor very cold, a “middle” common global temperature, dipping down in winter raising for summer, but neither extreme, and not for any length of time. Biologically they are set up for a mid range. The domesticated body (humans, cats dogs) can adjust for the odd warm day from time to time without too much internal stress and function as normal.

However, when we have extreme heat (over 28C) and that is over an extended time there is a biological stress that continues cumulitively over the time the heatwave occurs. The heat day and night for many days (even weeks at 26c and over for summer 2022) impacts biologically, the body systems struggle, which impacts emotionally and behaviourally too.

As a huge generalisation it can take around 60 days for the body to start to become acclimatised to a new weather environment change. Luckily our weather is not (yet) extreme for this length of time. We would really need to adjust our lifestyle and our homes if this becomes the case in the UK.

What is happening internally over these hot periods?

This is a very basic summary (so apologies to biologists/zoologists).

The body is set up to work to stay in balance (homeostasis). The brain and gut work hard separately and together to balance all the chemicals that are adjusted nanosecond by nanosecond, It is a finly tuned process. The brain or gut receiving external and internal information communicating and setting off the run of actions to maintain the balance, physically and emotionally.

When there is an extreme impact the body goes into disarray to balance the disrupted systems. For minor impacts this is unoticable, it gets warm , we get thristy, sweat. There are a wide range of actions the body engages to deal with an extreme heat situation. These are operated from the survival centres in the brain. The messages that go out are to do everything to protect the major organs and maintain the balance to keep the body functions steady. These responses are automatic and meant to last for a short while becuase they take away some resources from parts of the body needed for longer term functions (like digestion).

When the “threat” continues the organs are put under some stress and need to conserve their status. the body constantly tries to reduce the temperature that is rising internally and to protect from the external threat. This means that behaviours will change to reduce the impact of extra not needed functions, like movement, eating and non essential activities like play and social or environmenal exploration reduces. The brain is so busy balancing the body it finds it hard to think, so learning is impaired.

This balancing act begins when the temperature raises above that which the body is buiult to function. This can be as low as 23/24c. By 27/28 the body is struggling to do normal everyday activities so any added pressures from walking or running or lengths of time exercising or thinking can overwhelm the body. 32c is considered to be dangerous for all dogs with the balancing systems in overwhelm and the chance that some will need to be shut down. At around 36 ambient temperature the body now has a balance of external and internal heat , it is incredibly hard to distrubute heat outwards.

This is compounded by the added dangers at lower temperatures in anumals who have added health needs. this includes: Flat faced dogs or those with impaired breathing, obeseity, very young (under 6m), senior (7 and above) those with underlying conditions, minor or major, even minor issues suh as allergies have the body already in disarray.

“how would dogs in hot countries survive then if they dont go out twice a day for a run”.

This is a commin question oor babsis for a heavy discussion. Well, firstly they have the acclimatisation, through generations. They also (possibly as part of this generational epigentics) have different behaviours and habits.

Generally dogs in tropical or sustained heat environments are given more freedoms and not habitually lead walked. Or they live in homes set up for heat, air con, quiet daytimes with social times later in the evening as it cools – remembering the closer to the tropics the earlier the sun goes down, there is less time in the day with full sun.

They are “crepuscular” going out at dawn and dusk for engagement, food, social time, exploring the environment. They then spend their day in a cool place, sleeping , dosing. The evening cool is time to socialise, explore until night falls and they find their overnight sleeping space. Rarely are they out in the sun unless by own choice.

Our UK dogs just dont have these freedoms of choice. We lead walk, often for a specific time or distance, or drive and get a run. But the choice of where when and how is human led. Would they choose to go for a drive and a long wood run? Or a lead walk along the streets and parks? Maybe, Maybe not. We really should hear their decisions around this. Are they keen to get in the car or their lead on? Do they seem slower or tired? If you turn back do they move to the car or head for home? Are they showing signs of getting hot? Listen and respond, even the late and early walks may be too much day after day.

“My dog wont toilet at home/ I live in a home with no garden”

This is a genuine difficuclty and one I have much sympathy for. it woudl seem that this is the reason some dogs must have an onlead walk to the park in the heat. A little planning could avoid cumulitive stress. Our dogs generally have toilet habits including time and where. By practicing different times to go out, including early mornings and later evenings we can reset that habit, ina not stressful time. Ideally choose a time under 23c, which in our August evenings has been impossible for sure. we also know they often have a special place. Why not go directly there, if necessary drive if it is a while away. it may also be possible (out of a stressful time) to retrain to toilet very close to the home or in the garden. when puppy training, rescue toilet training or moving home I suggest taking a sample of the grass or mop up some wee and take the collected poo and leave in the garden (hard to use this in an open space). Take the dog at their chosen time and hang out whilst they explore and hopefully will go. This takes some persistance.

my dog is fine out walking, he needs to play and run or he will be a pain” ” we are only doing an hour in the field for a play and run” ” its just a cool fun run in the woods” ” he always runs with me at lunchtime/after workin the morning”

Coupled with ” my dog is really lethargic” ” my dog is not eating much” ” my dog is so slow walking” ” my dog is very grumpy when I get him to do….”

These are all clear messages from the dog and their internal systems that they are in overwhelm , pysically and emotionally.

What is wrong with a good run and play? My young dog wants to. I think young dogs or those who are very human programmed to do certan activities at certain times in certain ways are in automatic mode, their brain is by passing the information that there is a danger. It is often why they so easily succumb to heatstroke in lower temperatures but over exercise.

So why is exercise, the “Dont walk your Dog” message so strong , “a missed walk wont kill your dog but a hot walk may” meme so shared by wellness professionals? Simply the biology again.

Exercise and fun activities create the release of chemicals which flood the muscles and systems to produce muscle movement , more excitement or the run run run message the more chemicals flood in. the muscles are flooded wiht blood and oxyegen creating heat. internal heat, competing with the external heat and the bodys ability to balance. this also causes the heart to race and lungs to breath faster, creating yet moe internal heat. The chemicals that create excitement (or fear) have a knock on affect to th eproduction of other chemicals , some disperse quickly many stay longer, meaning th ebody continues to heat long after the exercise/excitment has ceased. Too much exercise causes an accumulation of these chemicals over time and the anxiety caused by overwhelm will keep them topped up.

even if th edog seems fine at the time, it will be impacting that day and subsequently.

This is how heatstroke seems to happen suddenly, why it can take over a dog who has been quiet since their morning walk. This is why Wellbeing practiotioners say Limited exercise and hear your dog and advocate for them.

“my dog is off her food”

As with all behaviours noting when food is not important to the dog is a meaningful observation. Food/nutrition is of course important long term for survival, but not vital in the short term. it is why when under physical and emotional stress the gut shuts off for a while. Digestion is energy consuming and it creates heat, the last pressure needed in heat or anxiety and fear overwhelm. Water is of ourse vital but with systems struggling the messages may not be consistent , here we need to advocate and note fluid, just as we do with ourselves and kids.

So when your dog is lethargic, not wanting to play or engage, getting tired quickly, struggling to sleep, grumpy, off food this is their body slowing things down to protect and conserve the vital organs. We need to listen, not carry on with our preprogrammed human expectations and habits. think of the why, what s going on biologically and how we are contributing to the overwhelm.

All that said. Don’t panic. Hearing your dog. Managing their environment knowing what is happening should be all that’s needed.

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No Walk? Lets Have FUN!

These are Special Times…

The Covid 19 crisis has suddenly hit everyone and the guidelines to stay home except for a short time daily have caused those with dogs some challenges. This Blog, whilst very “at this time” focussed actually draws upon guidance and teaching Peaceful Paws has always offered.

From time to time for a variety of reasons we need time out from a daily walk…

  • injury, illness and disability- both dogs and us
  • reactive behaviours
  • being “trggered”
  • weather- both too hot and too cold
  • bitch in season
  • over stimulated from too much household  busyness
  • Firework season
  • special events such as COVID 19 Government instruction

and a variety of other reasons.

IT IS FINE to do something else rather than a traditional walk.  Luckily in the past few years alternatives have been springing up and research and behaviourist advice has created a whole new way of helping dogs ” be dogs”, without having to have a lead, a field, and and hour free. At the end of this blog are a list of wonderful online resources to inspire.

Behaviourist and TTouch therapist Janet Finlay (links below)  suggests that we consider Deconstructing the way we offer a walk in circumstances above. She explains here: https://www.canineconfidenceacademy.com/blog/the-deconstructed-dog-walk

https://www.canineconfidenceacademy.com

https://www.facebook.com/CanineConfidence/

So how can we offer the alternative?

What is the Purpose of a Walk?

  • toileting time
  • exercise (body condition)
  • scenting
  • having fun
  • play
  • learning
  • engaging with their human and other dogs (recommend where possible only family dogs in the Covid crisis, but  make a personal decision on your limit of a tiny risk of cross-contamination)

How can we replicate that at home?

Toileting

Most dogs will toilet in the garden and this is ideal right now, they are likely to have 12-24 hours between access to the outside world which may be too long, particularly for young and older dogs or those with health needs.

Teaching a “go pee” is so helpful. If you dont have it then this is a time to teach. Go in the garden and when they pee/poo have a great reward of fuss and fun and fabulous food  if approriate. As they squat say happily “go pee” when they finish have a party !  It wont take long to have them pee on cue. This is a really helpful cue anyway, its certanly been invaluable on freezing nights or vet trips!

If they only go pee out of the garden begin teaching it out on your walk and then try in the garden , it may take a while but persevere.

All the following ideas should be for a maximum of 5 mins at a time and you can mix and match from each category over a day or week.

Exercise

  • Toy fun, ball throwing, but limit to max of 5 mins to save joint strain. Tug.
  • Chase a brilliant way to revisit recall! Drop a little bit of their food and as they go to eat it , run away and repeat, change direction, hide, call them,  be creative.
  • Stretches –be careful not to over stretch, paws up, spins, leg weaves, play bow peekaboo, allstrethc (think Yoga- there is Real Dog Yoga too!)
  • Obstacle courses – use household items, indoors or out to create, balance, climbing, jumping experiences ( kitchen steps, toddler stools, brooms, cushions, pillows, towels, plant pots garden canes… use your imagination )

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  • Confidence courses – similar, but with a range of novel items to challenge problem solving and boost confidence with novelty, move over, through, under, around a range of objects- as above with novel items such as a bottle maze or a maze from plant pots and canes.
  • Balance – create a course to walk across to support balance, pillows, or wide “planks” on steps ,
  • Tricks that move and stretch the body spins both ways, weave in and out of bottles or chairs, crawl under table or chairs, play bows, head turns from side to side, sit to stand to down (mix it up, only 3-5  a day) paws up , different number of paws in a different  (or the same ) object … front paws, back paws, 3 paws, opposite 1 at front and back , run around an object ( table, box, chair) each way.

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  • Freework A new activity which is used by trainers and therapists at a varity of levels, at its simplest it is the chance for the dog to slow down and just “be”, doggy mindfulness if you like. It gives the chance to stretch and forage and have a calm time. This is Genghis taking time out.

Here is some more information This website is from Sarah Fishers website

https://www.fourpawslearning.co.uk/animal-centred-education.html 

Food search/forage/scavenge – this is an important part of all dogs daily engagement in the environment. One that is much overlooked. This is a long activity and might take 20 mins. It is deeply tiring and rewarding. Set it up and stand back and just let them be a dog.

  • Food plates – find the favourite or novel foods. Get together 10-12 (safe) foods your dog might enjoy including familiar ones but also others. Offer 2 at a time on separate flat trays or plates. Note the first choice. Do for all foods, then narrow down by offering 2 at a time again, until you have the top choices. Use these to encourage engagement.

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  • Muffin tins (then add balls or yoghurt pots or plastic cups to cover the spaces)
  • Hunting – show dog where a few foods are “hidden” in plain sight, help them to find, do it together. Next step “hide” in plain sight and ask “find it” excitedly. Then with dog out of room/space hide and help find then as before “find it”. Do in the same place until skilled and enjoying, anticipating. Then go to a different room, outside etc.
  • Towel – get a small towel or teatowel or soft mat . Put food on it to find and help until they know what to do, then roll a few in and show how to unravel, then make it trickier ! Use in boxes, on trays or roasting tins. Do it at different heights by balancing on a low stool or table.
  • Plant pot (yoghurt pot/ plastic cups/cones) search – get 2/3 pots, put food on or around the pots and encourage engagement. Then put on top of pot, then underneath and show how to get them. Then do just one or 2 leaving some empty. Add a few more pots. Repeat process. Play inside and out as a mix up.
  • Snuffle mats – sink drainer or object with holes, an old tea shirt or fleece blanket. Thread through the holes and knot. Add foods to find, show as above.
  • Holey rollers – balls with holes in, do the same, or just thread rolls of fabric in with food wrapped in.
  • Cabbage fun – hide tiny bits of smelly food, between the leaves of a cabbage or lettuce.
  • Ball pits– small plastic balls – or tennis balls and a container…. A box, a bag for life, food tin.
  • Tent pits , a kids tent contains the balls and the food… use indoors or out.
  • Cardboard tube fun – collect tubes, fold end add food, fold other end. Show how to open, then put in boxes (think of honeycomb shape) to search through or just a few offered.
  • Recycle the recycling – box with safe recycling, cardboard, plastic bottles, put some food in , incuding inside the bottles and just let them have fun.
  • Scatter feed  – a handful of kibble thrown on the floor (patio, grass, kitchen floor) or use a novel container: box, toy box , tent, tunnel, tray
  • Bring the outside in, collect grass, [ebbles, sticks that have engageed them on a walk and make a snufle tray.

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  • Problem solving – Nina Otteson and Kong commercial games.
    • Developing thinking games- what does your dog like doing? Opening things, shaking things, rolling and fetching.
    • digging for fun very rewarding and great physical exercise. Use a low box or kids sandpit for outside. The under bed boxes are good. A little kids sand. Make sure outside boxes have a lid. It can help to have on a plastic sheet, or a yard area. Add some toys and dry food show them where it is as you bury it, then hide and don’t let them know.
    • Get the treat from the bottle chase, shake , throw, to get to the treat.

Interacting and learning

  • Learn how to use a clicker. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvw2bcGcoDk
  • Tricks and fun – there are endless tricks to learn from paw giving, spins and turns, crawling under, weaving around, to collecting dropped items or emptying the washing or tidying the toys. The internet has so many videos. Look at you tube for Kikopup (Emily Larlham) or Kyra Sundance . Both are excellent.

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  • Fun Learning Games – 3 minute games are fabulous for building working relationships, boredom busters and most need little equipment , just their food. Absolute Dogs have a set of free books with games in – this is a great one.

https://nbn.absolute-dogs.com/optimismrocksbook

https://www.clickertraining.com/101-things-to-do-with-a-box 

Sarah Ellis is a brilliant trick trainer and has so many on her Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/Tricksfortreats/

We mustn’t underestimate the value and importance of calm at this time. For many of our dogs life has changed considerably. Their quiet routine has changed, there is more noise, more movement, more people. This can be a bit overloading! So time out is essential for them to reset. Anyone homeschooling can really relate to how they are feeling right now!  so here is some support for the end of your Deconstructed Walk, the “cool down” .

Relaxing and calming food activities

    • Kongs ( you can use yoghurt pots)
    • LikiMats – there are commercial ones but a silicon pot stand works. Spread with something soft- cream cheese, goats cheese, yoghurt, veg puree, puree chicken broth, baby food, (no onions) , tinned dog food (Cesar or Lilys kitchen is good) , or fresh . A good rinse and a hot wash or dish-wash cleans them thoroughly.
    • Chews (chewing and crunching induces calm hormones) – avoid cheap raw hide , or packaged bones of anything from china, good choices- pigs ears, calf hooves, puzzles, paddywack, chicken feet, dried necks, antlers.
    • just time for themselves in a quiet place . 
    • there is another blog just on this here.
    • https://peacefulpawstherapy.com/2018/03/01/calm-dogs-are-happy-and-healthy-dogs-something-you-dream-of/

FINALLY

There are myriad of amazing places to go for more fun. This list below is not inclusive at all! but will offer lots of ideas.

If you would like some more information about anything DOG please contact me via this website or go to the Facebook page or join the facebook group. I am hoping to add some virtual minicourses soon as amazing offers.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/265698280659182/

https://www.facebook.com/peacefulpawstherapy/

https://www.facebook.com/pg/peacefulpawstherapy/posts/

HAVE FUN!

Some internet links

https://www.facebook.com/hiltondogs  

Louise Burton Online Trainer, highly recommended.

https://www.facebook.com/RubyAndBetsyNMiloToo/?hc_location=ufi

Tricks and fun with Ruby

https://www.facebook.com/teamtillycaninecoaching/posts/205480560795791?comment_id=209931567017357&notif_id=1584986177974308&notif_t=feedback_reaction_generic&ref=notif

fun activities with Tilly

Canine Enrichment: https://www.facebook.com/groups/canineenrichment/

Beyond the bowl: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1747279312231501/

ACE connections: https://www.facebook.com/groups/332134427492077/

Kikopup You Tube:
https://www.youtube.com/user/kikopup

School of canine science on YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/user/InTheDoghouseDTC

Canine Confidence Academy, free taster courses:
https://www.canineconfidenceacademy.com/

Brilliant Family Dog, free short courses:
https://www.brilliantfamilydog.com/

Nail maintenance for dogs:
https://www.facebook.com/…/nail.maintenan…/learning_content/

Positive dog husbandry:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/PositiveDogHusbandry/

Dog Training College, check out their free stuff and facebook page:
https://www.dogtrainingcollege.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/dogtrainingcollege/?ref=br_rs

absoluteDOGS:
https://www.facebook.com/absolutedogs/

Animal Education 100 days of enrichment
https://www.facebook.com/groups/226077658280504/

Spiritdog, online challenges
https://www.facebook.com/SpiritDogTrain/

Local to Taunton – virtual classroom with Nic Evans

https://schoolfordogs.teachable.com/p/hillview-level-1