I shall never tire to say that Border Terriers are one of the most adaptable small terriers ever. They are a working, matter-of-fact, no frill breed, always happy to be where you are and to be involved in family activities, no matter where and when.
Borders will enjoy a roll in the snow with your children in winter. And one of Borders’ favourite ‘hobbies’ is sun bathing – it is amazing how Borders can find the first sun paddle in the garden with the beginning of the better weather, and like to curl up in it for a good old snooze.
Yet, as summer furiously approaches, and with the hotter weather, you are bound to see a total transformation in your Border’s personality. Border Terriers hate hot weather!
It’s hot – my dog is not well!!
As temperatures start rising above the 20C degrees, Indy becomes a completely different dog. When it first happened, we thought he was actually unwell, as his reaction to hot weather is lethargy. My understanding is that that same double layer of coat that protects him and keeps him warm in winter, yes it is quite insulating in warmer weather, but as it grows longer, it starts making Borders hotter.
And as a result, Indy will just want to do not much more than lay down as snooze for the whole day, or at least until it gets cooler. Indy will not engage in playing activities, and will more so loose his interest in walks. At times we have had Indy stalling outside the front door as early as 7 o’clock in the morning, as the weather was already too hot for him, whilst it was OK for us.
Like all dogs, Indy will do much more panting in the hot weather. This is possibly the one good things about dogs, as it is their natural way to keep their body temperature down, and to avoid sweating. Dogs do not sweat, but I find that if I touch Indy’s head, I can feel when it is hot. That rings alarms bells for me, as it tells me that my Indy needs to be cooled down.
And as this happens to Indy every year, regularly I need reassurance to find out that the same reaction is encountered in all other Borders we know of, including youngsters!!!
So, what to do???
It is natural that whenever we see our dog under the weather (pardon the pun!!), we will want to help him/her. Now, when we humans are hot, we instictually take measures to cool our body temperature down. Dogs are very instinctive individuals, and yes they will shelter from the outdoor heat naturally, but they can’t go and take a cool shower in the same way as we would do. Therefore we need to assist them in retaining that body temperature at a bearable level, more so as we have established that dogs feel the heat more than their owners.
With Indy we adopt some 5 most practical and uncomplicated coping mechanisms, which we find particularly effective.
Tip No. 1 – Avoid the middle of the day
Avoid walks in the middle of the day. Preferably walk your dog at what are classed as unsociable hours. By this I certainly do not mean taking your dog for a walk in the middle of the night. I do not want to encourage putting yours and your dog’s safety at risk!! But as days are longer, you will find it is most energising to take your dog out first thing in the morning when the sun is already high and the neighbourhood is still quiet. The road or the local park will be all to yourself and your dog, and to other dogs which you can socialise with undisturbed by the hassle and bustle of passing cars and or other distracting noises. And if at all possible, stick to shorter walks.
Tip No. 2 – Keep your house cool at all times
Keep your house cool at all times. Use the same measures you would use for humans, i.e. if you have electric fans, use them, although never directly on your dog (it could damage his/her eyes!!!), or leave the windows ajar. Keep curtains drawn to retain shade during the lighter hours of the day.
As I mentioned, dogs do love sun bathing, but – at least I have noticed with Indy – they will seek sheltered by retreating indoors when the temperatures start rising to weather which is too hot for them. Let them find the house pleasantly refreshed. They will most enjoy having a relaxing and re-energising snooze in the comfort of their padded fresh bed!!
But, for the youngsters and most exuberant hounds, who do not give in so easily to the bore of power sleeps, Tip No. 3 may be most suited.
Tip No. 3 – Water games
Some younger dogs may still like to play about, especially when younger or if more boisterous – I believe this is not the case with Borders. Either way, you still need to allow your dog to use up his/her energy, and you need to keep them entertained. Well, like with human children, I believe water games are the answer.
Allow your dog to ‘help’ you with the gardening and give him/her gentle sprinkles of water whilst you water your flower bed. Your dog will start jumping happily trying to avoid it to then come back to you for more.
Or use a paddling pool for children in your garden and keep it filled with cool water – encourage your dog to splash in it every so often, by throwing his/her favourite tennis ball, or with treats (Borders do not loose their appetite in hot weather!!).
However, if you can, avoid doing so during the warmer hours of the day. Or keep activities to shorter lengths of time.
Tip No. 4 – Cool and fresh food
Like humans, your dog likes fresher food. So, again keep fresh water available for him/her at all times. As I mentioned with Indy, your dog is bound to drink more, and fresh water at all times will help your dog keep cooler. And offer him/her cooler food.
I am far from suggesting you should give your dog an ice lolly out of the freezer – this is definitely a big no-no for all sorts of other reasons as well, namely the fact that it is full of sugars which are not going to do your dog’s health any favour. But what you can do is maybe prepare your dog’s meals in advance and keep it in the fridge for some 10-15 minutes before giving it to him/her. And likewise, you can keep small treats in the fridge as well.
Sometimes even toys can be kept in the fridge (wrapped up in cling film or in a sandwich bag for hygiene purposes) before you give them to your dog. Your dog will enjoy the fresh sensation in his/her mouth.
Tip No. 5 – Keep that fur short
Keep your Border’s coat shorter. I am not suggesting that you should strip your dog more often than usual – the double layer of fur coat in Borders is meant to have insulating properties. Nevertheless and again, we ladies with longer hair instinctually like to tie it up in a bun to allow freshness on our skin, and that is something that your dog cannot do by him/her self.
You may work out your dog’s regular trip to the groomer’s so that it coincide with the beginning of the summer rather than in the middle – by then, your dog would already have suffered some 4 to 6 months of warmer days due to the fur being too long.
Life goes on
The fact that it is hot does not stop us from living our normal lives – in fact many of us find summer months more suited for outdoor family activities. Certainly it is so here in UK, where the gloom of winter months prevents you from having longer walks or easier sightseeing trips.
Well, the fact that the weather is hot should certainly not stop you from allowing your dog to be part of the family activities – just maybe with an extra eye for his/her care.
So, if you are planning a trip in the car, again keep the air con on, or leave the windows open. But never let your dog stick his/her head out of the window – this could prove dangerous when particles may fly into their eyes!!
And again, try to keep their bed in the car cool as well – use cooling pads.
Also, never forget a bottle of water for your dog. Cars attract and store heat – at the end of the day they are but a metal tin. Your dog therefore will feel thirstier and, like for humans, it is vital that your dog is kept hydrated at all times.
But mostly, NEVER LEAVE YOUR DOG LOCKED IN A CAR UNATTENDED IN HOT WEATHER!!!
How does your dog react to hot weather? If you are a Border Terrier owner, does your dog behave like my Indy? Let me know, share your experience, leave a comment below.