Keep your dogs safe in the Phoenix/Las Vegas Summer Heat.

Summertime in the Desert with our Dogs

By Fred Hassen & Toni Drugmand

Teach Your Dog To Swim!

Temperatures in the summers here can reach over 110 degrees. Consider some important points from Veterinarian Dr. Kathryn Allen at Indian Bend Animal Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona.

The Obvious:

* Never leave your dog in a car
* The asphalt is too hot for your dog’s paws between approx. 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. Not sure? Take off your shoes and decide for yourself!
* Dogs left outside must have lots of water and shade. A doghouse is NOT shade.

The Not So Obvious:

* Pools are a hazard even for dogs that can swim. A dog will naturally swim to the closest edge (often the deep end) and try and get out from there. A dog does not naturally know there is an easier exit; he needs to be taught the easiest way out.
* A panting dog isn’t necessarily thirsty. Dogs pant for three reasons: they’re hot, they’re nervous, or they are in pain. A hot dog isn’t always thirsty, and a thirsty dog isn’t always hot.
* Some dogs willingly run themselves to a point of heat stroke, and it doesn’t have to be that hot. The worst case of heat stroke I’ve ever seen took place when the temperature was in the mid-eighties. The dog died.

Don’t assume he is a natural swimmer

Because we have so many pools in this area it can be a super way to allow the dog time to cool off, get some exercise and it is stress free on the joints. However, don’t take for granted that your dog will naturally be a good swimmer. A dog will often panic in the water and become vertical with his body. You can work with him while in the pool. Place your hand under his belly to help upright the back end. This will help to teach him how to use his body properly when in the water.

Teach Your Dog To Find The Steps

Be sure your dog knows how to find the steps. It may save his life some day! Here are some simple guidelines for finding the steps.


With a long line attached to your dogs collar and one person standing in the water about 3 feet directly in front of the steps, hold the dog by the collar pointing him in the direction of the steps.


Tell your dog “find the steps”.


Poolside helper is standing on the first step holding the long line attached to the dog. There is no slack in the line. Guide the dog to the steps quickly. Do this until the dog does not need any help from the line and can confidently move to the steps on his own.


Repeat the same steps but change the location. Three feet and to the left or right in place of straight in front of the steps.

· Proof the dog until he is successful at this phase.


Work distance until you can move to the deep end and cover all sides and angles and your dog is moving confidently without any leash help to the steps.
Train in Several Sessions

This will teach your dog how to find the steps and give you some peace of mind. Your dog is using muscles he doesn’t necessarily use and may tire and get sore if you do it all in one training session. Train this over a few sessions. Think of it like working out at the gym on your first day.

Since we both live in the hot regions of the country we do offer swimming lessons to our clients. Please feel free to contact us if you would like specific help for your dog. You can also find our new Teach Your Dog To Swim video and catch a preview or purchase it at:

Doctor Kathryn Allen can be contacted at Indian Bend Hospital 40th street and Thunderbird 602- 867-2992.

Ask The Trainer:


with Fred Hassen

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