It is that time of the year again, Summer, and much to my discomfort that means hot weather and training.
The training doesn’t stop just because the temperature is hotter than a frogs leg in a frying pan. However, we as trainers and dog owners need to make sure the necessary precautions are taken to keep our K-9 partners healthy. We must remember that during training our K-9 partners are mostly running and covering vast amounts of ground. They are working harder than the handler walking behind.
First and foremost keep fresh water available and nearby. Dogs can become dehydrated very quickly. Know where there is shade and take breaks. Taking breaks and only allowing the dog to take small amounts of water at a time is a great way to cool down dogs. Large amounts of water could possibility cause bloat. Also, you can always adjust times to training in the early mornings or late nights. This will avoid the midday sun.
Know your dog’s signs for heat stroke and overheating. Heat stroke is life threatening for dogs. A few signs to watch for could be very loud heavy breathing, a bright red tongue or gums and vomiting. The dog’s walk could even become staggered. If this happens bring the dog to a cool place and place cold compresses on its stomach area. You could also just wet the dog down, too. Should this happen the dog needs medical attention as soon as possible.
Our team keeps a small fold up pool and several five gallon jugs of water in our rehab trailer. It has come in handy but not everyone or team is blessed to enough to have a large trailer with conditioning and supplies to cool off overheated K-9’s and handlers.
Finally, last thoughts are to just use common sense when it comes to training in the hot days of summer. Train in shorter periods of time or if things are too brutally hot just do not train. A Search and Rescue K-9 team is not any help if they are down due to illness.