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If You Can't Stand the Heat...

Try some of these tips!

We recently asked for competitors to share their tips for keeping cool while training and trialing this summer. Here are some of their suggestions:

"I went to a Steve White tracking seminar last summer and we needed to bring a water sprayer (typically used in gardening for applying pesticides to plants). This is a big jug, with a hand pump to add air pressure, and a hose and nozzle to squirt the water out in a stream or mist.

[At our June trial] I filled it with water and used it as a mister for dog bellies, paws, and people! The judge loved it and the trial chair loved it. It was so nice. We could have put some hunks of ice in to keep the water cool, but even the warm wet was fine! And they're only about $15... and [you] can share!

--Courtenay Watson

"I keep training in the heat, I just use my head.  I am still holding my classes in the evening.  We do short sequencing, keep the dogs wet down, I now have a huge fan to cool down in front of, and I'm putting in a mister.
--Linda Knowles

"I use cool mats (vinyl outside, water inside) in the dog's crates.  I use small or medium size for my Border Collies; they take up about 1/2 the floor space so that dogs can lay on or off them and help regulate their body temperature.

I put the cool mats inside a pillow case.  I pour water on the pillowcase so that the water conducts heat into the cool mat.  I've been known to throw a couple of ice cubes on top of the pillow case and put them inside of the pillow case on top of the cool mat.

Basically, this is like putting a dog into a refrigerator, and much less expensive than fans and batteries, misters, and so on."

--Susan Mottice

"Plan your training in the house, then do very short sessions.  Have a tub of water available in case your short session is still too long for your dogs.  A short session is sometimes less than five minutes per dog.
At trials, I have a friend who won't travel without her fans for her dogs.  To me fans are a hassle, but I do have my cool pads for my dogs that like to be cool.  And I always have ice to cool down their water.
Lastly, I never forget that we always have A/C available - in the car!  If worst comes to worst, I'd rather run the car and keep me and the dogs safe than risk their - or my - health for the sake of a trial.  And yes, we have left when it was no longer 'reasonable' in our estimation. Reasonable varies according to you and your dogs.  Some people in the area set a temperature that they won't train in, or a heat index.  Border Collies just know that they want to work!"

--Elaine Coupe

"One of the things that I have encountered with my Sheltie is that he will stop drinking when he gets too hot. In California, we definitely run into some hot days. What I do is mix a jar of chicken baby food into three water bottles and give him a little of it at a time and he will drink it all up. I always make sure during the summer months that I have some with me at trials. It has worked with many other dogs at trials and we all refer to it as the "chicken water." The dogs love it and will consume it all so it is important that you only put a small amount in their bowl at a time.

--Sandy Scott

"Have a kiddie pool nearby for the dogs to play in!"

--Lauren Moore

"Wet down your dog's underbelly and inside the thighs. That is a place where the fur is thinner and the blood vessels are slightly closer to the surface for maximum cooling from water. Water over the top of their coats does little to help cool the dog down."

--Kathy Topham

More tips for keeping cool will be coming soon for subscribers to Have a tip on how to keep from overheating in training and at trials? Please send it to the editor at and you might see it here on the USDAA site soon!


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