6 Hacks for Keeping Your Dog Busy When It’s Really Hot, Humid and/or Smokey Outside


Canine Cruise in Chicago takes dogs out to Lake Michigan, where it’s cool and breezy

If it is really hot outside – too hot for a large dog, older dog, brachycephalic dog (dogs like Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Pugs, etc. with limited airways), or if it’s just that hot out (especially if the humidity is high and/or air quality is low) – what can you do?

Homemade agility

Here are six ideas to keep your pup entertained indoors in extreme heat:

  • Field Trip: Head out of the house to a pet friendly air conditioning destination: Take a ride to a pet store, a vet clinic just for treats, home improvement store (Home Depot and Lowes allow dogs) or another store which you know allows pups. Or travel to a friend or relative’s house, where you know your dog is welcome, and even better if there is a doggy friend at the location. No matter what you do, never leave your dog in a hot car. Another destination might be a wet one, like a dog beach. In Chicago, there’s the Canine Cruise, which goes out on to cool and breezy Lake Michigan.
  • Hide ‘n Seek: This is the best game ever. Have someone enforce a sit/stay, until someone else hiding (perhaps with a treat) calls the dog. Being a game, it’s an opportunity for dogs to think, exercise, and it’s simply great fun for the dog (and the humans), and most importantly this effort reinforces the cue to come when called. Another version is to hide a treat or favorite toy for your dog to find. To teach this version – at first, offer the treat or toy just a few away as the dog is on a “sit/stay.” And gradually move the valued item further and further away and eventually out of sight.
  • Work for Food: Feed your dog from food puzzles and/or snuffle mats, and also randomly offer some treats this way too. Snuffle mats are like shaggy rug looking mats, available most places pet products are sold, including Amazon. As for food/treat dispensing products, there are now countless available wherever pet products are sold. Warning: In multi-dog homes, ensure that there are an overabundance of choices of these food dispensing products so there’s no reason to contest over resources; still some dogs can’t feed together and if that is the case, this option won’t work.
  • Snuffle mat

    Fetch: Simply tossing a squeaky toy or a ball for a dog to fetch.

  • Obstacle Course: Create your own make-shift agility course, make it easy or hard depending on the dog’s size, age and general health. You can use an empty box for a small dog to run through, teach your dog to jump through a Hoola Hoop or over a mop handle you hold up. You can set up an obstacle course with just about any household object, such as piles of books to soup cans for the pup to weave around. Also, Amazon sells all sorts of indoor agility course items.
  • Trick and Treat: Teach your dog a new trick or two. It turns out that learning/thinking is about as tiring as physical exercise. Also why not take a few minutes to go through what your dog already knows, “sit,” “stay,” “paw,” whatever the cues are. Remember, make the training session fun, and reward with praise and a treat whenever things go well, and keep it positive, always.