10 Dog Training Tips for Hot Weather

Jul 1 / Jennifer Thornburg
Summers in the South are pretty miserable for all beasts. No one wants to be out in this heat, even me. And training dogs and their people is my most favorite thing.

Dog’s bodies are built differently from ours. They can't sweat. Instead they pant to regulate body temperature. This means they can be more susceptible to heat stroke than humans. Recognizing the signs of overheating and taking precautions can save your dog's life.

But consistency is so important.

If you want better leash manners, you have to train them out of the house. If you want your dog to have polite manners in public, you'll have to work in public. Training your service dog candidate? You can't take summer months off.
We have a few tips to help you get the most from your out-of-the-house training sessions while reducing the risk of overheating. 

1. Time of Day

Schedule training sessions during cooler parts of the day to avoid the heat of midday sun. That sounds pretty obvious but keep in mind the heat index. In general, temperatures above 85°F can be problematic, especially if combined with high humidity. Humidity can change during the day and even evenings can feel oppressive. Check the weather and plan ahead. 

2. Location

Take advantage of dog-friendly establishments! See our blog: Dog-friendly Stores in Central NC. Be ready to see others doing the same. If your dog has trouble with other dogs and people, it might not be the place.
Conduct training in shaded spots to provide relief from direct sunlight and prevent overheating.
Consider a Sniff Spot for a shady change of scenery.

3. Hydration Breaks

Offer frequent water breaks to keep your dog hydrated and prevent heat exhaustion. Use a portable or collapsible water bowl that’s easy to pack and carry. Don't forget to carry enough water for both of you!

4. Modify Training Sessions

Adjust the intensity and duration of training exercises to accommodate your dog's comfort levels in hot weather. Just like with any training session, keep it shorter than you think and end on a positive. Don't wait until your dog is already hot and tired to call it. 

5. Adapt to the Heat

Establishing an adaptation period in the spring or early summer will help your dog adjust to the temperatures. Work up to the hotter temps. If you haven't been working with your dog outside of the house, July is not the time to start.

6. Cooling Accessories

Use cooling mats, vests, or bandanas to help regulate your dog's body temperature during training sessions. Wearing a vest or bandana can be weird for your dog, if they have never experienced this. Let your dog get used to them in the house before you use them in public spaces.

7. Paw Protection

If the ground is too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws. You might consider some dog boots for your pal. Like any gear, let them acclimate at home before taking them on the road. 

8. The shorter the snout, the less they stay out.

Brachycephalic breeds, such as Bulldogs, Boxers, Pugs, Boston Terriers, French Bulldogs, and Shih Tzus, have more difficulty breathing and regulating their body temperature than long-nosed dogs. They don't pant efficiently, which makes them more susceptible to overheating.

9. Know the Signs

Recognizing the signs of heat stroke in dogs is crucial for prompt intervention and prevention of serious health issues. 
Here are the key signs to watch for
  • excessive panting
  • drooling and salivating
  • increased heart rate
  • vomiting and diarrhea
  • red or pale gums
  • weakness or staggering
In extreme cases, heat stroke can cause tremors, seizures, or collapse.

10. Know the Protocol

If you suspect your dog is having a heat stroke, act quickly and calmly to cool them down and seek veterinary help immediately. 
Here's what to do  

Move to a cooler area.

Get your dog out of the heat and move them to a shaded or air-conditioned area. Place your dog on cooler flooring, such as tiles.

Reduce body temperature.

Use cool (not cold) wet towels to wet their fur, targeting the large vessels: the jugular, brachial, and femoral vessels.
  • The use of cold water will have an opposite effect, as it will provoke a constricting effect on the blood vessels.

Provide air circulation.

Use a fan or create air circulation around your dog to facilitate evaporation and cooling.

Offer water.

Allow your dog to drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes if they are conscious and able to drink.

Monitor their temperature.

Use a rectal thermometer to monitor your dog's body temperature. You can cease cooling efforts when their temperature reaches around 103°F.

Seek veterinary care.

Even if your dog seems to recover, seek immediate veterinary attention. Heat stroke can cause internal damage that may not be immediately apparent.
Ultimately, use your judgment and prioritize your dog's comfort and safety. If it feels uncomfortably hot for you outside, it's surely too hot for your dog. In this case, stay inside and work in a different location in your home or make your training environment look different than usual. You can still make progress on your training goals without risking the effects of heat for you and your dog. Happy training!
Created with