Usually at this time of year, I am writing my annual dog summer swim article. However, this year as last year, I am not going to do the sessions. There are still too many variables when it comes to COVID-19 and being close to other people.

I really miss it and I am sure the dogs do also. I am offering to arrange a few sessions at the pool at my facility. Contact me directly if you want to teach your dog to pool swim and how to teach them to get out safely.

On other notes, the summer does bring opportunities for families to travel with their dogs. If you are going to visit other family, their space might not be conducive for either large dogs or even new puppies whose behavior is not yet socially acceptable. What to do?

You can travel with a puppy playpen or exercise pen. You can put several pens together to increase their space. These are collapsible and pack easily and keep your dog safe and confined both indoors and outside.

Need more space? Use a portable wireless fence system. It plugs in anywhere, doesn’t need in-ground wiring, and you can place flags around to indicate your dog’s temporary new boundaries.

Your dog can safely stay outside if he has been trained to invisible fencing and knows how to respond to collar and flags.

This system can be used in a campground if it has electric outlets. This means you can take your dog hiking and camping. You will also need a long leash (rope style is good – and if it’s nylon or poly it doesn’t get tangled in brush), a life vest if swimming or water retrieving, frisbee or ball toys, towels, insect spray, portable water bottles and bowls, Doggles, sunscreen, a cooling collar, a lighted collar or light attached to a leash, possibly a dog backpack, pet first aid kit, brush, shampoo, flea and tick medications and even booties depending on the terrain or heat of the ground.

Take along your pet’s vet records, medications, microchip and ID on the dog – and consider using a GPS collar just in case your dog gets lost.

For car travel, a crate, pet barriers, car seat, seat belt restraints, etc. will keep your dog safe. Do not leave your dog in a locked hot car even for a short time – ever.

If some of your plans don’t allow for your dog, a dog-friendly motel room or even a local pet boarding facility might help for doggie daycare or overnight boarding in the place you are visiting. Consider taking your pet with you if you check ahead at various chain motels. They will often accept well-behaved pets with a pet deposit.

Take their regular food as you might not be able to buy it around the country.

If you’re staying home, there are plenty of local activities to enjoy with your pet. Day hikes, beach in the early morning or late evening, various parks, playdates, even the sandbar on the May River. Include your pooches when you can and you won’t feel guilty when you do have to go away and leave them.

Abby Bird is owner of Alphadog Training Academy. AlphadogTrainingAcademy@gmail.com