While Central Texas is blessed with having little inclement weather, each season still poses challenges to keeping your dog healthy and active. A tired dog is a happy dog and making sure your furry friend is getting the proper amount of physical exercise and mental stimulation is key to their well-being.
Summer can be the biggest challenge to make sure your pup is safe, with days at or above 100 degrees. Heat exhaustion, dehydration and burnt paw pads are a few serious downsides to outdoor time in the scorching summers.
Keep walks shorter during the summer months and plan them for earlier in the day or after the sun is setting. Asphalt can get up to 125 degrees or more in the glaring sun, and their paw pads can get scorched! Warm-weather booties to protect their paws are a must and be sure to bring plenty of water.
Remember, if it’s too hot for you, it’s definitely too hot for them! Alternative methods of play and exercise are recommended for the hottest days to keep your dog safe. For instance, consider exercising them indoors with those puzzles, tug toys or doggy daycare sessions!
Fall is another too-short season here but is the perfect time to get outside! Austin is full of outdoor dog parks, dog-friendly trails and walking paths so you and your pup can get those steps in together and enjoy the outdoors.
If you are taking your dog to a dog park, make sure your pup is non-aggressive. Most dog parks are off-leash and do not offer separate enclosures for large and small dogs. Parks can be a bit stressful for anxious dogs and owners — not all dog owners keep a good eye on their pup. If you have an anxious or aggressive dog, dog parks may not be the best place to safely release energy. However, they can be a fantastic place for dogs to socialize, play and get exercise if their personality is a good fit!
If you want to get outside with your pup, there are many trails and parks to walk, run, hike and bike to enjoy the Austin weather together. Be sure to plan your route ahead of time so the distance isn’t too much for your pup, and bring water and other necessary protective gear.
Winter in Austin is brief, but the temperature drops can be a lot for both owner and pup, especially for dogs with shorter coats. Outdoor walks and playtime are beneficial year long, with the stimulation from outside scents and sights keeping your dog’s brain sharp and healthy.
When walking outdoors during colder months, be sure to have the proper gear for your dog. Just like us, they get cold! If you have a smaller dog or a warm-climate breed, bring a sweater or jacket to keep them warm. Pay attention to how they behave on walks. If they’re picking up their paws or constantly adjusting their pace, boots can keep those little feet warm!
In the rainy spring, indoor options can keep your pup entertained and safe. Let’s face it, as much as Austin has beautiful weather and plenty of outdoor fun, sometimes the weather outside is too nasty for your dog. The rainy season is short but quickly goes from dry skies to a full-on monsoon. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to keep your dog stimulated and active indoors.
The easiest and least expensive way is with toys that keep them moving and keep their minds sharp. Puzzle toys and mats are a great way to engage your pup, especially food-motivated dogs. Working for a treat or kibble will keep your dog entertained without leaving the house.
Another great indoor option is a tug toy, which comes in so many varieties — from small ropes to sturdier materials to suction cup options for solo use. If you have a dog that requires more exercise or has a tendency to chew things, tug toys are a great way to let them release some aggressive play energy.
If your dog is social, a day or two of doggy daycare each week can be a lifesaver for both you and your pup. Doggy daycares are more supervised than dog parks and start with an evaluation day to see how your pup does in the environment as they’re slowly introduced to dogs and playgroups. Many daycares have both indoor and outdoor play spaces, as well as plenty of attention from a caring staff. Pups are typically split into groups by size and play style so no one is overstimulated, and daycares also offer private kennels for a quick nap before more play.
Remember, no matter the weather, all dogs require physical and mental stimulation to keep them healthy and prevent them from acting out at home. A bored dog tends to get into trouble, so keep your pup moving and happy all year long, no matter the season!
Most dogs require at least 30 minutes of daily active playtime, and even more for high-energy or young pups. Be sure to spend the time to keep your dog moving safely, indoors and out!
About the Author
Sarah Leahy is a Minneapolis transplant in East Austin, certified personal trainer, award-winning interior designer and former gym owner. She offers in-person and online training with an emphasis on strength training and building confidence in and out of the gym. Leahy’s passion for strength extends to your business, with a full offering of gym design and business consulting services.