Guide dogs in Summer Heat – How to Look After Your Fury Companions in a Heatwave

When the temperature soars, we need to make sure we are doing what is necessary to keep our guide dogs safe. We asked our canine trainers, guide dog handlers and puppy host families about their various strategies for keeping our fury friends cool.

In general, dogs of all ages (puppies, working guide dogs or retired older dogs) need constant access to fresh water and a source of refilling this source if we venture out. Mornings and evenings are the best times for a walk or a training session as the temperatures are a bit cooler. Taking our dogs swimming is also a good idea. Most importantly, never leave a dog in a car even for a few minutes!

Guide dog owners make sure they take extra special care of their furry companions, as these dogs need to work even in the heat of the summer, going to work on hot pavements or public transport. Our guide dog owners emphasised the need for plenty of water, dog shoes to protect from hot pavements, keeping the apartment cool and cooling off on public transport with air conditioning. Taking the dogs swimming is a lot of fun but might be difficult if you are visually impaired.

Our volunteers working as puppy host families need to keep an eye out for our puppies as their fur is not yet developed to regulate the summer heat

– said Judit Erdelyi, our puppy host family coordinator.

Our puppy host families shared their tips for keeping the puppies in their care safe in the summer heat.

Guide dog puppies live with volunteer families between the ages of 8 weeks and 12 months. They go through basic obedience training and general socialisation in order to start guide dog training when they turn 1. The puppies’ daily routine changes somewhat in the hot summer months.

One-year old young dogs (the litter starting with letter A) start their day early: The first walk of the day is between 6am and 7am.

We play with Adria in a nearby park, playing fetch or chase with some other dogs

– said Edina Frank, Adria’s handler.

At the end of the day, around 7pm, we go for a longer walk, maybe on a shady forest path.

Aszú’s handler, Istvan Mariscsak said they prefer and evening walk into the nearby forest. In the morning, they prefer going for a 45 minute walk to the allotment instead of the dog park.

“We drink plenty of water and take short breaks in the cool, tall grass” – Istvan added. In the evening, they wait until 7:30pm to go for a longer walk to the forest, where Istvan enjoys picking mushrooms along the way.

It’s important to note that our host families can’t always have access to a forest or a lake but they always make sure that the puppies get enough exercise every day.

The puppies spend every day with their host families, either at home or at their place of work. Rita Fenyvesi, Alfa’s handler uses the time at home to practise some new tricks.

Guide dog students time is changing

When our puppies turn 1 year old, they join their trainer for 6 months to learn everything about being a guide dog. The summer heat makes some changes necessary in their daily schedule too.

When lunchtime temperatures are so high, we tend to rest in the coolest part of the flat at midday. We do our lessons early morning and later at night, followed by a short walk near where I live. We tend not to play fetch as it is too exhausting. We always
stay in the shade on the sidewalk and I always have dog shoes with me in case the pavement is too hot. Shopping malls are a great place to practice in during the hot summer weeks

– said Maria Kovacs Nyirine, our guide dog trainer.

During the day, this is how Maria’s dogs are chilling:

Working Guide Dogs

Our visually impaired dog owners need to take extra special care of their furry companions as the dogs spend more time out and about going to work and back home.

Escape from the office heat

Iram comes to the office with me at 7:30am and stays untill 11am. Then we go home as we have A/C at home so he can cool off. I go back to the office using a white cane for a couple of more hours but the heat is unbearable. We do our morning walk at 6:30am for an hour and the evening one after 9pm or even 10pm. He doesn’t like the cooling mats that you can buy in the shops

– said Antonia Kallai, Iram’s owner.

A good swimming place is a real treasure

Many of our guide dog owners would like to take their dogs swimming but it is difficult without an other person’s help.

Mihály Dombai and his dog Korte are lucky enough to live near the river Danube and have access to a dog beach within walking distance.

We both like to go for a swim. Korte really hates being hot and loves swimming. We are going today but not in the midday heat. At home we have installed A/C which I don’t really like but the dog needs it. If we travel in the car, we use the A/C as well, and Körte has a cooling gel mat to lie on as well. I always check the pavement as well, before we go for a walk, to make sure it is not too hot

– said Mihály.

How to use dog shoes properly

I use dog shoes on my dog Pixel, as we have to walk 15 minutes in the afternoon heat. I also have with me a water bottle for dogs and we often stop for a drink. I think we manage the summer heat quite well. It is very hot in the flat though, so at home Pixel has a gel cooling mat to lay on or the cold radiators to lie next to. I also refresh the water bowl with fresh water 5 or 7 times a day

– said Tamás Prepszl.

He also added to make sure dog owners don’t use the dog shoes for too long as the dog’s paws can overheat inside the shoes.

Ágota Lukács’s guide dog Oliver likes the cooling off wipes that one can soak in water and then use to keep the dogs cool. Agota also has a little doggie paddling pool in her garden, where Oliver likes to cool off.

Use public transport wisely

Dóra Pozsgay emphasised how using public transport in the summer could be a good way of keeping cool.

When using public transport, I choose routes that have A/C like the trams or certain bus routes. Noe really enjoys cooling off in the air-conditioned compartments

– said Dóra.