Source: Mirror (Extract)
Posted: May 8, 2022

Dog trainer Niki French, 53, from Twickenham, shares three stimulating enrichment games to play with your dog safely at home, as the heatwave begins to hit the UK.

As the temperature begins to heat up in the UK, dog owners are becoming more wary about taking their pets on long walks outside.

Dogs can find it difficult to cope with extreme heat and can suffer with dehydration, heat stroke and even severe illness.

Canine trainer Niki French, 53, from Twickenham, highlights other activities you can do with your dog when a traditional daily walk isn’t safe or practical.

Niki told The Mirror : “It’s important to have a variety of activities and games that you can play with your dog, without going out when it’s warmer.

“Temperatures above 19C are too hot for dogs. Breeds with flat faces like French bulldogs and pugs aren’t able to cool themselves down as effectively as breeds with longer muzzles.

“Dogs that are overweight, energetic and those with thick coats will also overheat more easily.

“If you decide to walk your dog, take them out early in the later or later in the evening and take water with you. Stick to the shady side of the street to avoid hot pavements.”

The bestselling author of STOP Walking Your Dog shares her three favourite mental and physical activities for you to try with your dog at home.

Put their noses to work

Hiding some of your dog’s daily food in cardboard boxes creates a cheap and easy scenting game.

Or you can scrunch up an old towel and scatter in some of their food to create an instant snuffle mat.

Let them splash about

If your dog loves water, a small tray or paddling pool can be great. If you’re stuck for space, even a few ice cubes in their water bowl can be fun for some dogs.

Play tug of war

A game of tug with your dog can boost your relationship with them. And letting them ‘win’ can help with confidence too.

Niki encourages dog owners to regularly switch up their daily walks for enrichment games.

She said: “It might come as a surprise, but traditional walks are a human invention and aren’t helpful for many of our dogs.

“Replacing walk time with training games at home can give the dogs the skills they’re missing to live calm and happy lives.”

Niki has a two-year-old rescue dog named Bodie at home, who is “noticeably calmer” with fewer walks and more enrichment games.

“It’s good to have other things in your toolkit. This applies to all dogs and surprisingly it can work best for breeds that need lots of exercise,” she explained.

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