Warm weather means longer days and more opportunities to train outdoors! The longer days bring benefits, along with a few challenges that trainers need to keep in mind:
- Service dogs may need to wear protective footwear if they will be walking on hot surfaces. Many dogs will need time to gradually get used to the feel of the footwear.
- Dogs and their handlers are more likely to encounter pets and other working teams when they are out and about in warm weather. Service dogs in training need practice ignoring other dogs. Their handlers need education about how to best to respond to these encounters.
- Some clients’ medical conditions may be worsened by higher temperatures. Also some people may need to avoid exposure to the sun due to their medical condition or medication. Trainers should be aware of clients’ needs and adjust training practice accordingly.
- Trainers need to educate owners about signs that the dog is overheating and counsel owners to provide sufficient water.
- Trainers can help clients plan ahead to ensure their dogs’ needs are met if they go on vacation. Owners must be aware of the various laws pertaining to service dogs in training if they plan to travel with their dog. If they plan to leave their service dog in training at home, owners need to provide sufficient information to their dog’s caregiver to make sure the dog is properly cared for.
- Fourth of July fireworks are stressful and scary for many dogs, including service dogs and service dogs in training. This is an excellent opportunity for owners to learn how to use things like calming music and food-filled toys in their home to keep their dog happy and relaxed.
- Summer barbecues provide an opportunity for dogs to engage in unwanted and unsafe behavior around dropped food or visitors. Trainers can use gatherings like these to help owners solidify basics like “Leave It” and a long Down-Stay.
Happy warm weather training!