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Beating Summer Heat - Water shy


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Hi everyone!

I have a Border Aussie that is 18-ish months and a rescue. She is a lovely lady but she is having some issues with the Midwest heat in MN. She always seems a little distressed over the heat. I have a list of everything I have been doing below, but I am not sure if I can be doing anything else to help her.


She does not sit outside for extended periods of time and she spends a lot of the day at work with me in the air condition with a cool tile floor.


I know people recommend not to shave and I don't want to do that. But would it be helpful to trim her a little bit at all? She has so much hair around her neck, ears, and belly! All thoughts are appreciated.

Tried and currently doing list -



- She drinks plenty of water when she wants; 4 cup water bowl in every room of the house and at work (she comes to work with me) that are constantly full.


- Access to a river at the dog park but she is afraid to get in any further once it touches her belly.


- Terrified of bath tubs and showers


- Cool, wet bandanas are not helping too much


- Tried a Cool-a-roo bed and she absolutely hated it.


- Terrified of fans


- Has zero interest in ice



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Pretty girl. With her coloring I wonder if she might not be part English shepherd, or possibly even purebred ES. I have a friend whose ES puppy's feet are marked exactly like hers.


I've never done it but some people report trimming just the dog's belly with good success.


Could you work with desensitization and counter-conditioning techniques to help her get over the fear of just enough water to wet her belly (or even her whole body when she's less anxious about it) from time to time? (Search those terms for direction in the archives.) Kurgo makes a nifty little shower cap for soda bottles that might not be as scary as a hose or shower for her. https://smile.amazon.com/Kurgo-01567-Mud-Dog-Shower/dp/B00TUA98JA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1467548925&sr=8-1&keywords=Mud+Dog+Travel+Shower


Otherwise it sounds like you've offered her about as much as you can. She might not be terribly comfortable in the heat, but as long as you don't make her exert herself beyond her comfort level, she should be fine.

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I would definitely recommend working very, very slowly with water desensitization to help her get over that fear. Not because she has to in order to stay cool but because it is, I feel, important for any owner of a dog who has a specific fear like that to work with the dog to overcome it in order for the dog to have a more comfortable life. I would work with very small amounts of water and lots of treats until she is conditioned that water=nice treats and eventually she will learn to tolerate it, if not like it. Are you familiar with this kind of training, or should we outline it for you?


As for the heat. I live near Tucson, and in June this year it was over 110 for days at a time so I know heat. Mostly if it is too hot for the dogs to be out I just keep them inside in the air conditioning. But one thing I will note is that I do not keep my house at 75 degrees the way some people do. I keep it between 85 and 90. One reason is economical, but another is that it is really unhealthy to go from 75 degrees to 110 degrees and back again. Not good for people or for dogs, and it would assure that none of us would truly acclimatized to the heat. I am not saying that we all thrive outside when it is 110, but we don't feel as though we are going to die, either, and 90 feels fine to us.

If you are keeping your house very cool that might be contributing to her not being able to handle the heat when she is outside. Just a thought.

Cutting some of the fur on her belly short can help. Not shaving, just cutting it short. Also you might try a Cool Scarf. This is a bandanna-like thing that has pellets inside it that hold water. You soak it and tie it around your dog's neck and as it evaporates it keeps the dog a lot cooler than just a wet bandanna will.

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Excellent suggestions, do ask if you're not sure about de-sensitization and counter conditioning. They're not the same thing.


You said she'll go in the river and stop when it touches her belly. If she likes to play tug, and it's safe for you to wade into the river with her, take a tug toy in and play tug w/her for just a minute, even less. You stop the game and bring her out of the river. Then do it again a few minutes later.


This might raise her trust level of you a bit, and get her more at ease w/being in the water. If you

re going to try this, don't play tug with her at any other time, only in the river. And only if you can keep both of you safe and calm.


Good luck - this is a tough one. I'm a believer that each time we get a fearful dog to be less fearful of any one of it's boogeymen, then the dog-human bond becomes stronger and it's easier for the dog to then work on other fears.


Ruth and Gibbs

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I put a little wet dog food on an icecube for Star and she really liked it. This was after she turned the ice cube down. She definitely prefers soft ice cubes over the hard ones.

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Thanks for the tips everyone!



A few follow ups and clarifications on my part as well as her background. This may help a little bit more!



Kaze is a rescue who was found micro-chipped and very nervous in Kentucky. The info on her chip was already invalid when they checked it and tried to reach out to the owners over the course of a month without success. When I first got her in January she would not leave my bedroom, was afraid of long leashes (more than 6 feet), and is still very wary of men she doesn't know or who have deep voices.


My vet says she is one of the few percentage of rescue dogs that just tremble and cower when they are anxious or fearful instead of snarling or running away. If anyone new approaches her then she will just shake but let them pet her with no problems. However when she is with other dogs she is completely fine and acts like a happy pup and will meet anyone who comes up to her.

She is not food driven and when doing obedience with her she will not take treats from me. She prefers human stimulation such as ear scratches. This is great except when we work on more difficult situations, like deeper water and new people, then she cannot even be motivated for that reward. At the vet she will sit on the floor and push her face into my chest and just tremble until it is over.


In terms of toys, she is not very playful either. She has many toys but she only plays with them when she is alone. She does not like fetch nor playing with toys with me. Tug toys are also not enticing to her! Kongs bore her too, even if made challenging.


I've been trying to work on some difficult feed toys and she does like those a lot if they require being nudged with a nose or paw. She shows a lot of expression through her feet and paws and has only barked about 10 times since I got her at the beginning of the year.




As for water: she easily and comfortably goes into the water up until she thinks it is too deep and then she will stop moving further. But she will at least go into shallows on her own!

Thanks again for this advice and whatever else moving forward. I will trim her belly hair tonight and hopefully that will help her out a little more!

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Have you tried doggy ice cream or frozen yogurt cubes as a treat? I will also feed my girls partially frozen raw meat chunks or partially frozen raw premix.


The hose game can also be fun if you have access to a garden hose you can just spray the ground or use a sprinkler and let the dogs bite at the water, but make sure they don't take in too much water or it could lead to water intoxication. My girls get about 5 minutes of hose games by then they are soaked and cooled off.

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I've been looking for the ice cream all over the place and haven't been able to find it. But I will definitely try some yogurt and see if that helps at all!

There are some recipes online for doggy ice cream. I found several on Pinterest.

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You can just put bananas and yogurt into the blender and then freeze that mixture in ice cube trays. Makes a wonderful summer treat. Or, use any other fruit your dog likes (that is safe for dogs, that is). You can also freeze it with a popcicle stick and hold it for the dog to lick.

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My boy is a real water weenie. He'll wade in the shoreline but never goes in past his belly.


There's an open field near our house I take him too and on hot days so we try and get there while the sprinklers are on. There's four going at once that circulate so I chuck the ball where I think Sammy will get the most water sprinkled on him. He actually gives an effort to go around the sprinkler when retrieving so not to get wet! But he loves fetching the ball too much so I do manage to get him pretty wet on his back side. It's a hot day, what's a little water falling gonna hurt?!



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  • 2 weeks later...

Talk about timing. I was just coming on to search for this thread so I could add another recipe for doggie ice cream.


Glad she's learning to enjoy the water.


Here it is:


Peanut Butter & Jelly Homemade Ice Cream for Dogs


1 small, ripe banana

½ cup (4oz/120g) peanut butter (unsalted and smooth)

1 cups (10oz/280g) natural plain yogurt ( low fat, non fat)

10 strawberries, pureed


1. Mash the banana well with a fork until smooth and no lumps. Stir in the peanut butter, followed by the yogurt.

2. Mix all ingredients until well-combined.

3. Puree the strawberries (or mash them with a potatoes masher) and fold them into the peanut butter mix to create a swirl.

4. Pour the mixture into freezer safe air-tight containers and then freeze for a minimum of 4 hours but preferably overnight.

5. Keep the Ice Cream in the freezer for 8 weeks.

- See more at: http://moderndogmagazine.com/articles/diy-eat-celebrate-national-ice-cream-day-doggie-ice-cream/97687#sthash.7MPxZQvf.dpuf


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  • 3 weeks later...

You might manage to get her to shed some fur the natural way if have her wear a doggie coat for part of her indoor air-conditioned day--that way she might not need extra cooling outdoors.


*****for the water thing:

My guy is water shy like that--goes in to a point & no more (except he forgets when there are ducks and geese, so I know he knows HOW to swim).


So I take him to water, and if leashed, have an extra long leash/ long line, or add on.


Let him go to the water ahead of me.


Slowly, calmly walk into the water (no splashing) away from him. Call/talk or just be there, no pressure, and offer treats when he is ready. I move into deeper water (knee deep), stand or walk slow and let him follow at his comfort level.


Since yours won't take treat, I would think the last part would work best for her, just make sure you don't do anything to make her anxious (even you being too distant).


How would she react to being rubbed down with a damp but not dripping towel?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks everyone for all of the advice! We have finally succeeded. She figured out wading is fun. Not into swimming, but she at least if figuring things out. Dog ice cream starts next week!

Yay! Happy to hear this! Our BC will wade into a river or lake but won't go into a kiddie pool of a sprinkler/hose etc :( so I just take handfuls of water and apply it to him ... It's a lot of work but worth it.

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