Our many delighted clients tell us the care for their dogs staying at my Hound Dog Hotel is the best they’ve found anywhere (check out references here). And something that makes our doggie guests time so special with us are the exciting daily outings – imperative because quality exercise is the key to keeping dogs in good shape as much mentally as physically.
A Happy Dog is a Tired Dog – A Tired Dog is a Happy Dog!
So at the Hound Dog Hotel we take our guests on varied daily exercise sessions. We go to leash free areas where dogs can run, play, interact with others dogs, and sometimes there’s an option to swim too. I might take balls and toys, but limit ‘high energy’ play.
The reason I prefer to let my guests go at their own pace is that dogs, just like people, can get too much of a good thing. Over-running dogs can be a real health risk to them - yet it’s surprising how easy it is to inadvertently over-do exercise and in extreme cases put a dog’s life in danger.
This is why I wanted to share my 5 LIFE SAVING TIPS every dog owner should know.........
1) BALL THROWING
Most dogs enjoy chasing a ball now and then. But what about the obsessed ball chaser? The dog that has no interest in playing with other dogs, and unless you count staring mad-eyed, totally fixated on the ball thrower, not interacting with their owner much either. All they want is to chase after a ball to the exclusion of everything else.
Throwers can launch a ball a long way and in hot weather a dog continuously pelting flat out over a distance can easily overheat, become dehydrated and develop Heatstroke. Once this happens without fast help they can collapse and at this point recovery is uncertain.
I expect people who have never heard of this will find this hard to believe, and assume a dog will stop when its tired. Yet unfortunately what I have described is exactly what happened to my gardener’s German Shepherd Dog.
His GSD was anti-social, and in order to avoid other dogs he would take him to quiet places. Then to tire him out he would just keep throwing the ball with the thrower. One hot evening after such a session his dog collapsed.
He rushed his dog to the Vet Hospital where he was immediately put on a drip and kept in overnight as they tried desperately to rehydrate him. When that didn’t work vitamin and mineral infusions were tried. They did all they could yet even after an outlay of $6000 his dog could not be saved and sadly he died the next day.
Clearly those throwing a ball mean no harm to their dog, but when chasing a ball becomes a ‘conditioned’ response dogs can lose their natural ‘off switch’ and despite being hot and exhausted they keep going (Border Collies & Pointers & Kelpies are typical examples).
If you suspect your dog has overheated you might be able to help if you catch it early. In fact a few years ago on a 40 degree day my daughter and I were walking to Freshwater beach for a swim to cool down, when we came across a GSD (yes, another GSD with a problem) alone, clearly disorientated, tongue hanging out and pacing all over the place. He was right next to the road and in real danger of getting run over.
On such an extremely hot day with the wind like a hair dryer set on high, you did not need be medical to see the dog was in the early stages of Heatstroke. I grabbed his collar and walked him the short distance back to my daughters place. This is what we did:
1) used the garden hose to soak him completely
2) offered him water (but he was so beside himself from the heat, being lost and with strangers he refused to drink much)
3) put him in a cool place (with wet towels if they’re keeping still)
Normally a cool place would be an air conditioned room. However, my daughters unit did not have air con. So I started the car and turned on the air con in that. As soon as it cooled we put the GSD in there and then drove him to our local vet and left our details.
We never heard from the owner so we rang the vet and were delighted to hear the GSD had pulled through. He said our actions had saved the dog’s life, so that made our rescue worthwhile.
Signs of heatstroke
- Lack of appetite
- Wobbly on their feet
- Look like they’re drunk
- Noticeable fluid building up in their body
- Keep drinking to excess
Something as low key as taking a dog out on a very hot and sunny day can cause Heatstroke in dogs. Therefore, when high temperatures are predicted walks need to be very early, late evening, or in the case of extreme heat not at all.
2) CYCLING WITH A DOG
In cool temperatures with an adult dog (over 2 years old) where stamina has been built up over a long period it might be OK to exercise a dog whilst riding a bike.
But because it’s too easy to cycle at too fast a pace, and/or go too far, I’m against cycling with dogs. Here’s a first hand example of why…..
During 2016 I made a trip to the UK. I was missing having dogs around and offered to walk my friends Labradors, Libby & Bonnie. I took them to a great location called Fishers Green. Dogs are allowed off leash over the whole site and with many, easily accessible and pristine lakes they can pop in and out for a swim at any time.
It was a really hot day but as the dogs could access the water as and when they wanted it was perfect, really super fun, and the type of outing that makes having a dog so special.
Suddenly, speeding past me, was a man cycling with two black labs running a distance behind him. Both dogs looked hot and distraught but couldn’t stop to go to the water as they were trying to catch him.
One of his dogs was just about managing to keep near him by cantering fast. But the older and heavier dog was struggling and lagging a long way behind. Worse still, he was clearly distressed. His tongue was lolling out and there was stress in his eyes. He was unable to close the gap and get closer to his master and this was no dog happy out ‘walkies’. This was the equivalent of a dog being drilled by the SAS.
This happened so quickly by the time I was thinking I ought to say something he was gone. But later that day I regretted that I hadn’t acted fast enough and brought to his attention the danger he was putting his dogs in.
The irony is I imagine this man loved his dogs and expect he thought he was doing a positive thing - giving his dogs ‘a good run’. But dogs can and do collapse after such intensive running and I’ve always wondered what happened to his older dog that day.