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Summer Fun: Barbecue Season and Your Dog

By Miriam Fields-Babineau

 

There’s nothing better than a big family barbecue, with hot dogs, burgers, ribs, and all the fixings. We fill our plates with potato salad, coleslaw, fruit salad, chips, brownies, and other goodies. We play ball games and board games and jump into the water to cool off on a hot day. 

 

What about your dog? He’s part of the family too and should participate in all the fun. While he’s happy to play a part in your family games and to garner a ton of attention from visiting relatives, consider his dietary needs as well as his reaction to all the festivities.

 

Most dogs thoroughly enjoy greeting new people or renewing friendships with those they have not seen in a long time. Other dogs may feel stressed when new people enter their home. 

 

Read below to discover several ways in which you can ensure that your entire family, including your dog, enjoys summer barbecues.

 

FAMILY INCLUSIVENESS

Your dog is part of your family, so plan fun backyard activities in which he can participate. This will keep your dog busy if he likes jumping on arriving guests or seems a bit shy with a lot of commotion. Also, he’ll learn to associate family gatherings with positive experiences. 

 

Try playing the following games with your dog:

 

• Fetch: You can incorporate “fetch” into many of your daily activities. Nylabone’s DuraChew Hollow Stick toy is perfect for dogs who love to fetch sticks. You can further entice your dog into the game by putting some peanut butter or cheese into the hollow opening, giving him greater motivation to chase it. Many dogs enjoy fetching balls and stuffed toys, too.
 

• Find It: Hide some great-smelling treats around the yard; you can even use your dog’s regular kibble. He will eagerly spend time sniffing out his rewards, an activity that is most natural to his genetic design. Yummy-smelling stuffable treat toys will keep your dog occupied with a treasure hunt while providing him with interactive enjoyment when he finds the treasure.
 

• Hide-and-Seek: The person who is “it” will enlist the help of your dog. As your dog sniffs out those who are hiding, the searcher should follow along to tag when others are found. Don’t forget to reward your dog each time he finds someone! Praise and tummy rubs are very rewarding to most dogs.

 

EVERYONE GETS TREATS 

When you and your family sit down to eat your meal, keep your dog busy with a few edible chew toys and treats. Nylabone’s Red, White, and Blue Flavor Frenzy chew toys, which come in outdoor-meal-ready flavors like BBQ chicken & corn on the cob, T-bone steak, and bacon cheeseburger, will help redirect your pet’s attention from begging at your table to his own play. 

 

WE ARE WHAT WE EAT

Try not to feed your dog table scraps. Foods unfamiliar to his normal diet might cause gastrointestinal distress because his system does not know how to digest the foreign ingredients. This is not a breed-specific issue—it can happen to any breed of dog at any age.

 

Ask your guests not to feed your dog under the table, and never feed him when he begs. Not only will you create bad habits, but it also sets a dangerous precedent. Dogs repeat behavior that has been rewarded. (And receiving some unhealthy potato chips from the table is certainly one of those occasions.) 

 

It is most prudent to give your dog canine-appropriate, safe toys and treats to make sure that he remains healthy, happy, well behaved, and able to continue with family fun throughout the day.

 

COOLING OFF

As you are enjoying the warmth of summer, consider your dog’s needs as the temperature climbs above 75°F. He’s always wearing a coat and can only sweat through his paw pads and mouth via panting. You must offer him a means of cooling off. Shade, plenty of fresh, cool water, and a quiet place to rest during all the festivities is a great start. Here are a few more suggestions:

 

• Fill a small pool with water. Dogs need to cool off their legs and underbellies. There’s no better way than to have a small pool set up in the yard in a shady area, allowing your dog free access to lie down in the water. This will protect against heatstroke and reduce his desire to dig up your landscaping as he searches for a place to cool off.
 

• Turn on the sprinkler. Not only will your children enjoy running through it, but your dog will certainly enjoy the game as well. He’ll remain comfortable in the heat while having a great time.
 

• Freeze a block of ice with treats inside. Take a small bucket and fill it with water. Throw in some dog treats, toys stuffed with food, and meat-flavored ice cubes into the bucket. Then put it in the freezer. When it’s time for your family to sit down to eat, bring out the big ice block and place it in your dog’s dish. He will enjoy chomping and licking at the ice to get his treats. The ice will keep his body temperature down, and he’ll stay occupied as you and your family enjoy the outdoor festivities.

 

Your dog is a big part of your family, so include him in all of your activities while ensuring that he remains safe and healthy. Keep an eye on him and those who interact with him. If you feel that you cannot be somewhat observant, or if you know that he might be more stressed than happy about all the festivities, place him in a quiet, comfortable place with plenty of fresh water and toys to keep him occupied, as chewing relieves both boredom and stress.

 


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