With beautiful weather finally calling our names to get outside, pet owners should take steps to make sure enjoying the outdoors is safe for you and your pet. The Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) offers tips on what to watch for while enjoying the great outdoors.
No grazing – If your dog likes to do more than just smell the flowers, consider putting up netting or fencing temporarily to prevent your pet from chomping on plants. Many common flowers and plants can actually be toxic to pets, including bulb tulips, azaleas, chrysanthemums and lilacs. If you enjoy hiking or going for trail walks with your pet, discourage them from grazing along the sides of trails.
Bug bites bite! – The best way to prevent bugs from affecting your pet is a year-round flea and tick prevention program, but pet owners should still always be on the lookout for a stray insect. Always check your pet thoroughly after a woodsy walk or a long time spent outdoors for any bugs that may be carried inside. Buzzing bees could be problematic for curious dogs, too, as these low-flying bugs can prove tempting to snap out of the air. Discourage your dog from playing a game of “bite the bee”, and if your pet does chomp on a stinger, call your vet right away.
Creature discomforts– You and your pet aren’t the only ones out and about this time of year. A range of wild creatures come out to play, and they may be of interest to dogs. Though it may look cute for your pet to check out that rabbit hole, a dog investigating another animal’s territory could lead to confrontation or injury. It’s important to be mindful of skunk sprays, snake bites and protective animal mothers. It’s best to prevent face to face encounters between wild animals and your pet altogether.
Training comes in handy – A well-trained dog is a good companion year round, and training certain commands can help your pet stay safe outside in spring and summer, too. While a standard “sit” command is always useful to put your dog’s attention back on you, some of the most important commands are “come” and “leave it.” A dog that is well trained in these commands will be less likely to pursue a potentially dangerous situation.