1. Visit the beach
Going to the beach on a warm summer day with your dog is a great way to spend time together. For water-loving pups, a swim in the ocean is just what the dogtor ordered to cool off from the heat as they enjoy frolicking in the waves. If your dog isn’t a strong swimmer, I recommend investing in a doggy life jacket to give them extra support and keep them safe while swimming.
It is also important to remember to check that the sand is not too hot for your pups paws to avoid burns and abrasions, or look into doggy booties to keep them protected. Bringing along a mat or towel for your dog to rest on in between playtime is a great way to keep their paws off the hot sand and encourage them to relax while you both catch some rays!
If your dog isn’t 100% off-leash trained, using a long line attached to their collar or harness will allow your dog to enjoy some extra freedom and stretch their legs whilst making sure that they are under control and responding to your recall cues. If you are looking for an awesome long line for your dog, check out https://pk9gear.com.au/ for all types of long lines, leashes and equipment.
Don’t forget to be mindful of other beachgoers and do not allow your dog to run over to every other dog or people that they see without first checking with the other owner if this is OK. Many dogs (and people) do not wish to interact with other dogs they do not know and so being respectful of one another is key to allowing us to all enjoy the beach together.
Be sure to check your local council regulations as to when your pup is allowed on the beach during the summer months, as some beaches have restrictions during this time.
2. Take your pup on holiday
During the summer months, many of us are lucky enough to take time off from work to spend with our friends and family and choose to go on trips away to soak up this special time. Now more than ever, our pets are part of our family and so why not bring them along to join in the fun?
There are many pet-friendly stays available around Australia, which vary depending on your budget, desired destination and requirements for your pet. I really love checking out Air BNB, which gives the option to search for accommodation that caters to pet lovers and their animals. Just be sure to read the description of the accommodation carefully as some have specific requirements when it comes to having animals stay. For example, some will only allow pets outside and strictly not allowed on furniture, meaning that if your pooch is accustomed to their creature comforts, then perhaps you may be better off choosing another option suited to their needs.
3. Water play at home
For all those water-loving pups out there, why not head to Bunnings, grab yourself a shell pool and fill it with water and let your dog enjoy dipping their paws in to cool off. You could even chop up some fruits and veggies such as apples, carrots, and blueberries to place in the water. This is a great idea to try and encourage your dog to get their paws wet if they are a little unsure as well as being a super fun enrichment activity to keep your dog busy and use their brain.
Another water-based activity that can be lots of fun for dogs is to purchase a sprinkler for your pup to run through or even get the hose out and watch as they chase and bite at the water. My Labrador absolutely LOVES this game! It is important to give your dog plenty of breaks and ensure they aren’t consuming too much water during these activities to prevent accidental water intoxication.
4. Enrichment activities at home when it's too hot to walk
During the summer months, it can become too hot to take your dog on their usual walk (a great tip here is to place the back of your hand on the pavement and hold it there for a few seconds; if its too hot for your hand, its too hot for your pups paws!)
On those days when it is simply to warm, using your dog’s brain through mental stimulation and enrichment activities is a fantastic, easy option to tire them out and provide fulfilment.
Why not try out some of these easy enrichment activities, which can easily be done in the backyard or even inside in the air con!
One of my all-time favourite activities is taking part in your dogs daily food allowance and simply sprinkling it out in the yard. This engages their natural desire to hunt and scavenge by using their nose to snuffle out the food hidden in the grass.
If you do not have grass in your yard, you could try rolling up a towel or blanket, placing a layer of food and then rolling up into a sausage shape for your dog to unravel using their nose. There are also products called ‘snuffle mats’, which are essentially large mats with smaller pieces of fabric attached, which allows you to hide food for your dog to use their nose and locate.
Other enrichment activities include playing hide and seek with your dog’s favourite treats or toys, teaching your dog tricks or practising their obedience indoors, puzzle toys, lick mats, kongs and more!
5. Dog-friendly hikes
Exploring some of Melbourne’s beautiful parks and dog-friendly hikes is a great way to spend time with your dog during summer. My advice would be to head out early in the day to beat the heat and take plenty of water and snacks for both yourself and your furry hiking buddy.
Other things to be aware of is ensuring your dog is on a tick preventative such as Bravecto or Nexgard and always check for ticks at the end of your hike. Watch out for snakes and other wildlife you may encounter, and be mindful of other hikers/bike riders/dog walkers/horse riders you may meet along the way. Furthermore, it is always important to be respectful of leash laws and keep your dog safely on leash when asked to do so. A solid recall is an absolute MUST if you are in an area that allows off-leash freedom. Be sure always to have your dog under effective control, allowing for a pleasant experience for everyone.
6. Take your pup on a trip to the local cafe or dog bakery
We are so lucky that Melbourne has a range of dog-friendly cafes to visit, and even a couple of dedicated dog bakeries!
Why not check out ‘Dog House‘ in Collingswood, which has a dedicated doggy menu full of delicious treats for your pup, such as dog-friendly cookies, pupa chinos and more! Another great option is ‘Miss Drew Dog Bakery and Cafe’ on the Mornington Peninsula, which is dedicated to providing your pup with lots of freshly baked, tasty treats.
Taking your pup to a cafe is an awesome way to practice your obedience in more distracting locations, and what better way to treat them for their efforts than with some dog-friendly baked goods.
7. Training in indoor locations
Indoor training sessions to beat the heat can be an absolute game changer when it comes to having fun with your dog in summer. Some shopping centres, such as Burwood Brickworks, allow dogs inside through all months of the year, which make them an awesome place to train no matter the weather. Let’s be honest: in Melbourne, you really do not know what weather you might be in for, so it’s essential to have a list of indoor training locations in your back pocket.
Other options are to visit your local Bunnings or pet shops to get in your training reps. As always, it is important to assess if your dog is ready for the level of distraction that these places bring to be sure to challenge them in a way that is appropriate and not setting them up to fail. If your dog can be reactive or aggressive, wearing a muzzle whilst out in public can help keep everyone safe and deter unwanted interactions with other dogs or people. Advocating for our dogs is crucial when out training in public, and sometimes having your dog wear harnesses or leashes with ‘In Training’ or ‘Do not pet’ can help significantly with this.
8. Make your own frozen treats
Making your own frozen treats for your dog to enjoy is quick and easy. Better yet, they can be customised with many different ingredients to suit what you have to hand and any dietary requirements your dog has. Here is a basic recipe that you can try at home.
Blueberries (or dog-safe fruit of choice such as strawberries or bananas)
Xylitol-free peanut butter
Place Greek yoghurt and peanut butter into a bowl and combine. Pour into large ice cube trays and top with chosen fruit, dog treats, or kibble. Place into the freezer for a couple of hours until set.
Remove from ice cube trays and let your pup enjoy!
You could also use shark cartilage or dehydrated chicken strips to create an edible ‘stick’ for your frozen pupsicle treat.
Ensure treats are given in moderation and supervised alongside a balanced diet.
If your pup is on a special diet, try hydrating their kibble with a little low-sodium chicken broth/water or freezing their raw food into Kongs to create a long-lasting, tasty treat for them to enjoy.
9. Go on a picnic
Grab your picnic blanket and snacks (don’t forget your dog’s favourite treats!), then head to your local park to enjoy a relaxing picnic with your pup.
Play a game of fetch or tug of war to work up an appetite, then find a shady spot to relax and take it all in. Teaching your dog a mat stay is a handy skill to have in your training toolbox to promote calm, especially after exercise. A mat stay is essentially teaching your dog to keep all 4 paws on a designated mat/bed and remain there until released.
Begin by teaching your dog this new skill in a low-distraction environment and gradually build up the duration that your dog must remain on the mat. Then you can increase the distraction level slowly and practice in new environments. With consistency and patience, your dog will master this new skill and you will be able to take it out and about with you to picnics, cafes and anywhere else you would like your dog to relax.
For more information and a detailed breakdown of how to teach a mat stay, head over to our online video platform PK9 online or book in with one of our experienced dog trainers for in-person training sessions.
10. Visit the botanic gardens
If you are local to Melbourne or just passing through, a visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens should be on your list of things to do. Enjoy exploring the 89-acre park which is home to over 8,500 plant species as well as beautiful lakes and manicured lawns. Unlike many botanic gardens in Australia, pups are permitted on lead and can join you for a wander through the gardens as you both take in the scenery.
I hope this blog gave you some new ideas for fun activities you can do with your dogs over the summer! Drop us a comment and let us know if you try any of them as well as tag us in your summer adventure pictures over on Instagram.