Walking in summer

So it seems official. Summer’s here. While we eagerly wait for the mango showers, we need to start actively thinking about providing respite to our dogs from the heat. Temperature control is one part of it that I discussed in an earlier article. Hydration is another issue that needs to be on our minds often.

More than a year ago, a project called the Water Bowl Project caught my attention.It was aimed at providing large urns on road sides and getting people to fill water in it for the dogs and cows on the streets. I thought that was a great initiative. So last year, I gathered a little group of my own and we did the same. I installed one of the urns near my then home. I put it there for Kermit, the street dog that had adopted our street. But it was not until recently that I realised how small gestures pay forward.
We were walking along the street in front of my old home. Our dogs were getting dehydrated and started panting. I wanted to stop the walk short and return. But Nishi, my boxer, insisted that we move forward. She went all the way up to our old home. I presumed it was some sort of nostalgia that led her there. But as we got in front of the home, she trotted off to cross the street. She went straight to the urn and had her head buried deep in it. When I caught up with her, I saw that there was fresh clear water in it and she was drinking gladly.
That’s when it struck me. The ecosystem had worked and had come the full circle. Putting in place the urn and having a person there bond with the street dog ensured there was fresh water in the urn. Fresh water in the urn helped my dog when she needed it. So, it’s perhaps time to think a little bigger and get a water source installed at least along your regular walk path and ensuring water in it for your dog and perhaps a few other dogs when they need it the most.
Apart from this, be mindful of carrying water during walks and car rides to vets, parks etc. If it’s a car ride, you can carry a bowl. If it’s a walk, then you might need a collapsible bowl or a specialised bottle. Some dogs are experts at drinking water off a cupped palm.
Hydration during walks is important because a dehydrated dog can get uncomfortable and irritable. Irritable dogs struggle to make the most of their walk. Walks are meant to stimulate a dog’s sense of sight, smell, vision, feeling under their paws and give them new safe experiences.A comfortable dog will stop frequently to sniff, observe, walk on different surfaces and gradually explore new objects. An uncomfortable dehydrated dog will find it hard to concentrate, let alone explore. Walks can get very stressful for dogs and owners.
One quick fun tip for this time of the year. Tree’s are shedding like there is no tomorrow. That means leaf piles.If there are fresh small leaf piles in non-snake-infested areas, then it’s a good idea to let the dogs romp around in the leaves. My dogs love it! And finally, while you take care that your companion dog is as comfortable as you can make him, do consider participating in any project that provides water sources for a few additional animals.
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