Hot Weather Guidance
With record temperatures being reached up and down the country (even in Scotland!) and the hot weather set to continue, the BFA Committee would like to offer some advice and guidance to TOs, Judges and members regarding the welfare of both dogs and humans whilst flyballing over the summer period.
We cannot set specific rules about when you must stop racing as the dangers of heat stroke are not simply dependant on temperature; humidity, wind, available shade and individual dogs and humans will all have different tolerances. The overriding guidance here is that common sense should prevail where temperatures feel excessive. TO’s, Judges and members in attendance at each show will be best placed to decide when common sense says they should stop racing. Before you get to that point though there are a number of sensible precautions we recommend taking to ensure flyball can continue safely wherever possible:
Start earlier, finish later.
TOs should consider starting racing earlier. Moving your start time from 0830 to 0730 for example will give you an extra hour of racing during the coolest part of the day.
Take a break in racing when the weather is at its hottest. The sun is strongest at midday but the hottest part of the day is usually 3-4 PM. Take a break and finish racing later in the day when it has cooled down.
Reduce racing to best of 3 legs.
Reduce warm-ups to run back only. Using warm up time to train in the ring or practice crosses will raise your dog’s core temperature immediately before they race. Some dogs need a run back to confirm their racing lane and should be allowed, as required, for dog safety during racing.
Allow time between races and legs. Don’t rush through your racing, allow time for dogs to recover, cool down and take a drink before moving on to the next leg or race. Having reduced to best of 3 will give you the time to do this.
Do not unnecessarily re-run your dog. Taking a loss, or even a Lose Lose, is preferable to losing a dog.
Don’t stand in the sun in between racing, find some shade to wait in.
Always have water available for your dog. The TOs will help make provisions for water but making sure your dog has easy access to water throughout the day is each owner’s responsibility. Water points and paddling pools will get a lot of use, don’t rely on TOs to keep them refilled and clean, help them out.
Everyone knows the rules about cars – the same applies to hot tents. Be sure you understand the conditions you have left your dog(s) in and make sure they are shaded, ventilated and watered.
When not racing, don’t exercise your dogs during the day, do it early in the morning, or in the evening once it has cooled down.
We need to look after the humans too. Make sure you are well fed and well hydrated (alcohol is a diuretic btw!), head and neck are protected from the sun and you apply plenty of sunscreen at regular intervals. Take any opportunity you can to cool yourself throughout the day.
Useful generic advice about dogs and hot weather can be found on t’internet (RSPCA, ASPCA, Dog’s Trust, Blue Cross) but if you have specific questions about your dog you may need to seek advice from your vet.
Plus, I’m sure there’s lots of experienced and knowledgeable members out there who also have top tips for coping with the weather.
We all like to race but competing shouldn’t come before your own welfare or the welfare of your dog. Be sensible, help each other out, be supportive when difficult decisions have to be made, and we can all continue to enjoy the sport of flyball safely over the summer period.