Hot Dog!

Shelby Semel Dog Training :: Hot Dog!

Now that the dog days of summer are on us again, it’s time to start thinking about how to keep our pooches cool in the hot summer heat.

To Walk, or Not to Walk?

Dogs reduce their body heat by panting, rather than sweating as humans do. Brachycephalic dogs who have a shortened, pushed in face (think bulldogs, pugs, Boston terriers, shih tzus, boxers, etc.),  are often prone to breathing problems, which in turn reduces the efficacy of their panting. As such, these breeds often overheat quicker than their more “normal” faced cousins. For these dogs, it is often a good idea to limit walks to relief walks, and avoid taking them out during the hottest part of the day.

Other dog breeds have thick double coats and may over heat faster than dogs with thinner coats. Make sure you take this into consideration when you walk your dog. But do not shave your thick, double coated dog! This double coat gives them insulation against the heat, and also helps to protect against sunburn. If you do shave your pet, make sure to leave at least an inch of hair to protect their skin. And as always, monitor your pet closely when he/she is outside.


Dogs need mental stimulation to prevent them from becoming bored. Many of the dogs we see in our private sessions benefit greatly from the enrichment and relationship building that mental stimulation can provide. If your dog is suddenly getting less physical exercise due to weather, you can often alleviate or prevent behavioral problems stemming from inactivity and boredom by adding some quick enrichment activities

Food Dispensing Toys

Use food toys such as the Kong Wobbler, Kong Classic, Busy Buddy Squirrel Dude, Busy Buddy Kibble Nibble, Buster Cube, or IQ ball (or many others!) to replace meal time. If your dog is new to any of these products, you can join in on the fun and help your figure them dog out!

Puzzle Toys

These toys allow you to cleverly hide kibble or treats in little compartments that your dog then needs to figure out how to access. Our favorite puzzles are ones by Nina Ottosson, but there are also puzzles by Outward Hound that are great as well.


Working on anything from basic obedience commands (this is a great time to work on how fast and accurately your dog responds to cues!) to complex tricks (play dead, sit pretty, clean up your toys) can also provide a good energy outlet for your dog. Plus, your dog becomes easier to live with as you can more easily redirect them from away from inappropriate behaviors.

Cooling Products

If you do walk your pet a lot during the summer, or are active in dog sports, focus your activities in the shade or near large bodies of water, where the air tends to be cooler. You can also check out the following products that can help keep your pet cool.

Ruffwear Swamp Cooler

This vest provides both protection from the sun and relief from the heat. Dogs can get sunburn too, particularly dogs with short, fine coats. Help reduce the risk by covering them up with this cooling vest. The cooling properties are activated when the vest is soaked in cool water, wrung out, and then placed on the dog. As the water evaporates, it helps to cool Fido in a similar way evaporating sweat helps to cool us.

K9 Fit Vest

This vest features two gel cooling packs (sold separately) that you insert to help keep Fido cool. Ideal for locations that get humid and prevent the evaporation that powers other cooling vests.

Cooling Stations

If you’re going to be stationary (think hanging out in Central Park!), cooling mats provide a great place for your pooch to relax and cool off. You can increase their efficacy by combining one with a portable crate and a shade cloth. And remember to bring plenty of water for both you and Fido!

Just Say No: Managing Your Dog’s Interactions

Shelby Semel Dog Training :: Just Say No: Managing Your Dog’s Interactions

Successfully training your dog is a time-consuming and occasionally frustrating proposition. Not only do you need to be patient, consistent and committed, you also often have to deal with other people who, attracted to The Cuteness at the end of your leash, may encourage inappropriate behaviors. This is particularly prevalent in highly populated areas like New York, where any outside time for your pup is likely to involve interactions with enthusiastic strangers.

A good example of this, and one we see over and over again, is when trying to teach a dog not to jump up on people. Now, when a pup jumps up it is often a display of sociability, a way of saying “Hello new friend! Play with me!” The dog is, as far as she is concerned, just being friendly. Unfortunately this behavior can, if unchecked, lead to unpleasant situations ranging in severity from dirty paw prints on clean clothes to pushing over and injuring a child; it therefore needs to be addressed.

The positive training method we recommend goes thusly: The dog is jumping up to garner attention. We therefore do not give her attention until she has all four paws on the floor or, even better, is sitting down. If we are consistent with this, she soon learns that the way to solicit the attention she wants is to calmly wait for it. 

The key word there is “consistent”. If she gets mixed signals, sometimes rewarded for jumping and sometimes ignored for it, she will find it much more difficult to figure out what is expected and control her jumping impulses. In some instances it can even exacerbate the problem, causing her to think that perhaps she has just not jumped enough and therefore increasing her leaps until she resembles a furry, scratchy kangaroo.

This brings us back to the problem of other people. New York is a densely populated city, and many of the inhabitants are dog lovers who will want to interact with your critter without having the first idea about her training. In an ideal world they would ask for permission to pet your dog, giving you the opportunity to explain that she is in training, to warn that she is likely to jump up and to request that the stranger ignore her if she does so.

Unfortunately, real world interactions seldom take this route. Many people will call out to your dog, or even reach for her without checking with you first. Some will check in perfunctorily but not actually pay attention to what you say and still others may respond with a cheery “I don’t mind” and encourage your pup to jump up because they are flattered by such an enthusiastic response and are enjoying the love.

So, what do you do? Just Say No! Feelings of social obligation can make this is a difficult proposition for a lot of owners; however it helps to bear in mind that the obligation to make sure your dog is well-mannered and not an inconvenience or danger to others is stronger (even if less immediate). For the most part a firm but polite “Sorry, no. She’s in training” is sufficient. If it is not, or the stranger tries to argue or persuade you, remember: you owe them nothing but politeness, and giving them the brief enjoyment of cuddling your pup is in no way more important than her training. This applies in particularly if they are disrespectful enough to ignore your request. If necessary, walk away from the encounter. In this city, there will be another person within the space of a block!