Walking Your Puppy When It's Too Hot Outside

How to Make Sure Your Pup Gets Enough Exercise When The Weather is Hot

Terrier resting on grass

sanjagrujic / Getty Images

When summertime is in full swing, temperatures may consistently be over 90 degrees Fahrenheit with humidity in the 70s or 80s. This makes going outside a very arduous chore. But when you have a puppy, there are times when you are just going to have to go outside, most notably for bathroom times for your puppy and to get them some exercise.

When you and your puppy have to go outside for any time, make sure you go prepared. Here are some tips on how to get your puppy the exercise he needs when it is too hot to go outside.

Choose the coolest parts of the day to take your puppy outside.

When you need to take your puppy for bathroom time, the early morning, late afternoon, and evening are best for being able to spend more time out and about. Choosing these times will give your puppy the ability to stretch his legs a little more, and you won’t have to worry about the sweltering heat quite as much. Of course, it can still be hot, so being prepared is still key.

Offer your puppy water before going outside.

As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. And that is a pretty apt saying for this situation. If your puppy doesn’t drink, then so be it. But always make sure to offer water. You can try teaching your puppy a cue word or phrase to drink water.

  • What you are doing is offering a suggestion to the dog and reminding them of what you would like to happen. Similar to Pavlov's dogs, you want the cue word to bring up in your puppy a desire to drink. Teaching this is easy, it just takes a little consistency and time.
  • Each time your puppy approaches the water bowl to drink (and the key is while they are approaching and in the process of feeling the urge to drink), say the words you want to use. Something simple like “drink water” or “water bowl” works, but you can use any phrase (as long as you wouldn’t mind saying out loud in public).
  • Your goal here is to say it gently enough that your dog hears it, but it doesn’t distract them from the task at hand. The same goes for the praise. After they have taken a couple of mouthfuls of water, praise your puppy and let them finish drinking. 
  • You can then extend this to new areas and new types of water bowls. During an outing is a great time to reinforce the cue word, because drinking water is its own reward! Put down the water bowl, fill it up, say “drink water” (or whatever phrase you chose), let them get some water, and praise gently. If they don’t drink, offer it again gently and with no correction or harsh tone. Then just let them find it on their own, and keep reinforcing it at home. 

Pack water if you are going to be outside for more than a few minutes.

Sometimes you and your pup get distracted by the world around you, so it's good to come prepared. Try to grab a small bottle of water when you and your puppy go outside for a quick bathroom walk. If the quick bathroom break turns in to stroll around the block, you'll be ready to go. Bare minimum, you can make a bowl with one of you hands for your pup to drink from.

If the sun is harsh, consider an umbrella.

Perhaps it sounds a little "Downton Abbey" to carry a parasol for the sun, but you aren’t wearing a fur coat. And the sun can actually be even worse if you have a hairless dog or one with extremely short hair! Carrying an umbrella offers a bit of shade that can really help keep your puppy cool in the midday sun. 

Sunscreen is best for some dogs.

It may sound weird, but there are hairless dogs that will burn just as bad as any human if they don’t have sun protection. Be aware of light colored and hairless places on your dog so they don’t get sunburned. Just be sure to use a dog-safe sunscreen (avoiding ingredients like zinc oxide) and avoid getting sunscreen in their eyes. 

Keep in mind that asphalt is HOT in the summer.

During summer, it can be dangerous to walking your dog across the blacktop of a parking lot or street. While dogs paw pads are stronger than the bottoms of our feet, they can still easily blister and burn, especially for inside dogs who spends most of their time on carpet and rugs. So, if you wouldn’t want to walk across it, don’t make your puppy do it. 

When you need to take your puppy for bathroom time, early morning, late afternoon, and evening are best for being able to spend more time out and about. Try to stick to grassy or shaded areas.

Try exercising your puppy indoors.

Here are some good games to play with your puppy to help get their energy out while still enjoying the miracle of air-conditioning.

Recall Games

The simplest recall game to play is just a simple back and forth across a living room, hallway, or kitchen. This game require two people, and each person should have a handful of treats. One person gently restrains the puppy by the collar while the other person starts to call them. Don’t immediately let go, but wait a half second to get the puppy a little more excited about going. Then, direct the puppy towards the other person. Once the puppy gets there, give him a treat, praise him, and prepare to send him back by repeating the process. Keep doing this for a few minutes at a time.

You can really up the ante on this game by using stairs, going around corners, and covering longer distances. If your puppy becomes disinterested in the game, go ahead and wrap up. This is supposed to be fun for everyone involved, so NEVER correct them when they come, even if they get distracted part way. Just be more interesting!

Hide and Seek

This is a recall game variation, but it is different enough to give it its own space. The great thing about this one is that you can play it with only one person. Simply wait until your puppy is distracted and sneak away (make sure you have a snack in your pocket). Make it easy the first few times until your puppy gets the idea. Hide just one room over and call your puppy. Stand behind a door. Hide behind the curtains or behind a couch or chair. Just be aware, if you hide in something like a cabinet or closet, your puppy may learn how to open these things! So be conscious of what unintentional training you may be doing while playing this game.

If you have more than one person, each person should hide and take turns calling the puppy once he has found one of you. If he is really good at this game, both people can call him and see who he finds first! Rewards and lots of praise make this a fun game to keep attention. 

Visit Pet-Friendly Stores

Granted, this one requires going outside some to get there, but think about all the great things you can do once you are in the store! You can work on training that you've begun at home. Do "sit-stays" in front of the bone displays. Work on sitting and greeting people nicely when the store staff offers a treat. Practice "come when called" when your pup is distracted by that crafty low bucket of treats stores always have. Use "leave it" when they think that the ferret cage is the greatest invention you r dog has ever seen.

Make sure that your puppy is fully vaccinated, healthy, and ready to be in public spaces. Just be aware of safety, especially the heat of the parking lot when walking in. 

Have lots of fun and interactive toys for your puppy.

Toys help make an enriching environment for your puppy and are great for days when playing outside is not very easy due to the heat. Provide a variety of fun and interactive toys for your puppy, and play together with your pup.

Keeping a puppy happy and exercised during the peak of summer can be challenging. But with a little time and creativity, you and your puppy will be worn out and satisfied in no time if you follow these easy tips!