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Mon, Jan. 27

All About Pets: Summer activities for pups; they’re begging for stimulation

BoJay loves his frozen chicken baby food in a jar. He has since had his nails trimmed! (Christy Powers/Courtesy)

BoJay loves his frozen chicken baby food in a jar. He has since had his nails trimmed! (Christy Powers/Courtesy)

During these hot summer days, getting involved in some interactive activities with our pups might not be at the top of our to-do list; but, they are begging for some stimulation.

Maybe we could teach them a new trick or two, or spend some time practicing the ones they already know.

As I have mentioned before, one thing we do frequently at my house is our doggie calisthenics. The two of them sit in front of me, I get their attention by holding up a delicious treat. Then I ask them together to “sit,” “down,” “stand” and then “sit” again. It is good exercise for them and it is pretty easy for me!

Some people like to teach tricks like shake hands, roll over and such. Because we do musical freestyle, I like to teach moves that we can incorporate into our routines. Thus, we do things like spin-and-twist (we must have a separate word for each direction and move). My guys bow, circle around me and weave through my legs. Believe me, they love it.

Walking beside me, on both sides, and moving backward as I move back keeps them thinking a bit. On my left side, the word is “side” and on my right, I call it “right.” (I do not use the word “heel” because that is a very precise move used in serious obedience training.) Another favorite move is to have the dog in front of me — and move with me, whether I move forward or backward or from side to side. This is called “front.” You will be amazed at how quickly your pup will catch on to these words and remember them. But you have to go through the routine on a regular basis.

There are so many fun things we can teach our dogs, and they will absolutely love the attention they are getting from you, but also the challenges to their brain.

One other thing I want to mention this week is the importance of regular grooming. I was just reading an article, in one of my 10,000 dog magazines, about the importance of regular grooming. As with our own hair, a good brushing is needed for our hairy pets as well to stimulate the scalp/skin. If they are scratching, their skin could be dry. Try a daily brushing. It takes only a few minutes. Find a sturdy surface where he feels safe and comfortable. You might just be able to sit in a chair and have him/her on the floor in front of you. Just brush away. They will enjoy it.

Be sure to check their ears. If hair is building up around the ear canal, you need to pluck it out. Good air circulation is needed to avoid infections. They do not like it but it must be done.

And the toenails need to be kept trimmed. If you are nervous about doing this yourself, groomers will do it safely and inexpensively. But it is easy to learn how to do this. Just regularly clipping off the tips is the best way. A good nail clipper or dremel should be part of your grooming supplies.

One final note, in this heat, it might be tempting to clip our dogs’ coats short. But whether your pup has a double coat or a coat like my poodle, they can easily get sun burned — or very hot skin, if the protective layer of coat is removed. Remember, the coat is there for a reason, it works as insulation.

Some hot weather treats are always welcome. My guys love marrow bones, which I keep in the freezer. They are safe and tasty. But also remember the frozen baby food jars. That is our new favorite.

Don’t forget the ever important multi-daily walks.

Christy Powers is a freelance writer whose passion is studying and writing about pet health, nutrition and training. She can be reached at

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