Living in Colorado, I spend most of the winter feeling guilty. Not for failing to shovel my sidewalk or for skipping the gym to watch movies under a blanket. No, I feel guilty because while I’m inside hibernating, my dog is stuck inside with me. Walks get cut short because of the cold and puppy playdates get canceled when a snowstorm makes driving too treacherous.
Even if you don’t live in a cold climate, there are times when we’re too bogged down by life (work, relationships, etc.) to give our pets the attention and exercise they deserve. But summer is the perfect time to make it up to your canine companion!
Think of all the reasons you love summer: long, sunny days, trips to the pool and icy treats. Chances are, your pet feels the same way. Mine certainly do, so this year I’m determined to treat both my furry friends to a sun- and fun-filled summer. Why not do the same for yours? Here are some ideas to get you started:
Take a hike
Whether you climb a mountain or simply stroll around the lake, hiking is a great way to break out of the rut of your normal walk routine. It can also help your pooch shed some leftover winter weight (yes, pets get it too!). Make sure to bring extra water and be prepared to cut your trek short if your puppy pal seems hot or stressed. And don’t forget the doggie bags!
Make a splash
My dog loves to swim. Loves it. Luckily, there are plenty of dog-friendly lakes in my area. If your dog can swim, toss a tennis ball into the water and let her cool off after a long, hot walk. If your dog isn’t a strong swimmer, or if you don’t live near a lake or stream, consider buying an inexpensive kiddie pool for your dog to lounge in. Or turn on the sprinkler and run through together!
Do some good
Your dog already has a good home, but there are thousands in shelters who don’t. Check your local shelter’s website to see if it’s hosting a charity fundraiser race this summer — you’ll help shelter dogs and you and your pup will have a blast walking or jogging with other compassionate canines and their human companions. My dog and I are looking forward to running this 4K, which benefits our local humane society (where she came from!) in September.
Try some treats
The next time you’re enjoying a frosty fruit smoothie or ice cream cone, treat your dog, too. Mine loves to munch on ice cubes or frozen fruits and veggies after an afternoon in the sun. Just make sure to remove any pits or large seeds, and never give your dog frozen grapes or raisins, as these can be toxic. Another surefire hit? Fill a Kong with peanut butter and pop it into the freezer for an hour. Or, if you really want to splurge, spring for some doggie ice cream!
Don’t forget kitty
My cat has never shown the slightest interest in swimming or jogging with me, but give him a sunbeam to nap in and he’s a happy camper. This year I bought him a window seat so he can enjoy the summer sun from the safety of our apartment.
Fido and the 4th of July
As the ideas above show, summer is full of activities you can enjoy with your furry friends. But you may want to leave your dog at home for one summer ritual: fireworks. The loud noises and large crowds can freak out even the most fearless canine. So bring your pup along for your picnic in the park, but drop him off before you head to the annual fireworks display.