Hot Dogs

Headline News: Two Dogs Die in Police Vehicle

Two dogs were baked alive in a police dog handler’s vehicle – the second time that this particular officer has left his dogs in a secure car without ventilation in very hot weather. It cannot be emphasized enough that if dogs are left in vehicles without adequate ventilation, a supply of water, shade and also the ability to move around to avoid direct sunlight, the consequences are unthinkable.

Perhaps this is blindingly obvious to us as responsible dog owners, but, following a brief question and answer session with several puppy and dog owners recently, some thought it was OK to leave them in the car unattended whilst they went into a supermarket, or whilst mum waited to collect the children from school or other activities, provided that it was for only a short time.  Think again.

The police dogs mentioned above, one a puppy German Shepherd, perished within a comparatively short period and that was before midday when the summer heat would obviously intensify.

Try this:  when you next reach your destination, turn the air conditioning off and wait in your car for one minute with the windows closed in full sunshine.  You will stifle, but just imagine being powerless to open the door and get out, or even open a window and you will know what I mean. I now have a brief chat about dogs in hot weather during all my classes and on all behavioural visits, because what I think is basic dog care (and common sense) may well not cross some owners’ minds….

PLEASE think of and for your dog: keep them cool. They wear fur coats 24/7!

*Let your dog lie in shade under trees on cool ground or on a tiled floor indoors.

*Hose him off and let him cool or soak in a paddling pool filled with cold water (it will heat up if it’s in the sun, of course).

*Put ice cubes in the water bowl or give one or two to chew on.

*Make sure that he has a constant supply of fresh water available at all times.

*Walk your dog early morning or late evening in the coolest part of the day.

*Pavements can get hot enough to burn your dog’s pads, which is very painful and can leave them permanently damaged.


Dogs and Horses: eating horse dung

Q            I live in an area where there are lots of horses. The roads and footpaths where we walk are strewn with horse dung, which is particularly attractive to my dog. He makes a beeline for it when off-lead and even when on-lead he shows an intense interest, especially if it’s fresh! I want to stop this unpleasant habit, so would appreciate your advice.


A            We may find this habit offensive, but dogs obviously enjoy the addition to their diet and it is quite a normal canine habit. Some dogs also eat their own faeces. I have to say that my dogs used to do it, too, but not any more. Many horses, cattle and sheep nowadays receive regular medication that would not be prescribed for dogs. Some of this is expressed in the droppings, along with parasites, etc., so dogs that eat it are potentially at risk.

When you are walking off road, attach a long line, say 6-9m long, to the collar to enable you to give a sharp jerk when your dog attempts to eat the dung, at the same time say “No!” firmly; when he comes back to you praise him and encourage him to switch his attention to you by playing with his favourite toy or ball. Throw it for him to fetch when he shows signs of interest in any dung and when he brings the toy back to you make it fun, praise him and get his attention. This preferred behaviour has to be more rewarding for your dog than eating the droppings. Effectively you are using play to interrupt the unwanted behaviour. After a while, this should become ingrained in your dog’s behaviour and he will be focused on your game together, rather than eating the forbidden dung.

The same technique of distracting your dog applies when you are walking along a road together when he shows interest in horse dung, but perhaps you can hold a ball on a rope. The behaviour needs correcting, so a prompt with the lead to get his attention, a verbal correction or better still get your dog’s attention – this is where the “watch!” command comes in handy to distract him, if he is determined to reach the dung.

Receiving a repetitive reward reinforces a habit, so it may be necessary to stop this process altogether by fitting a basket style muzzle. It is an effective method of stopping the unwanted behaviour, so try it for a month or so before allowing your dog to play on the end of the line again, correcting him when necessary. You need to be diligent and persistent when tackling this problem, but remember that it is natural for dogs to eat animal droppings, which are tasty to them, but repulsive to us.

The Missing Links – Respect, Leadership, Communication

Q            I give my dog everything she needs: love, care, the best food, exercise – she lacks for nothing, yet I feel there’s a missing link. It’s as if she decides not to hear what I tell her and she sometimes chews things like my shoes or chair legs! I just don’t know what more I can do.


A            Sorry to say so, but it sounds like your dog doesn’t respect you, despite being the provider of everything she needs. Dogs test our limits, treating us as equals and sometimes they are totally perplexed as to what we want of them. We need to be the decision-makers; be decisive and correct unwanted behaviour to enable the dog to have clear guidance. Many dogs are confused by our actions and body language; when they do things we don’t want them to we are often afraid of hurting their feelings, which perpetuates the confusion. We get frustrated, we may shout or get angry, but all this serves to do is perhaps stop the behaviour at the time, not solve the problem. This is the route to long term bad behaviour and the breakdown of communication between us and our dogs.


For a dog to adopt good behaviour, manners and respect for us, we must show sound leadership, just like a good manager does in the workplace. Making calm, measured decisions is essential for any company to function at its optimum level; similarly so, we must be calm and confident so that what we do radiates to our dogs. Assertiveness illustrates that we are in control and your dog will thank you for it. Very few dogs want to be leaders, in fact most prefer to follow, similar to the number of employees in relation to employers. There has to be a decision maker in families, companies, government, schools and of course amongst dogs.


So as well as providing all your dog’s physical needs, go one step further and provide the missing link, that is, make the decisions so that your dog will feel protected and show that you are trustworthy. Set down some rules and boundaries within your home and relationship. Take the grey areas out of your relationship and I am sure that when she knows exactly what you want she’ll give you the respect that she wants to give you and you deserve. She may love you even more!