Cold Weather Dog Training Tips. Take Your Winter Dog Training Indoors
Cold weather dog training takes some creativity at times, especially when the temps are well below freezing. While your dog still needs physical exercise, adding some additional mental exercise can help both of you from getting cabin fever when you’re limited to the indoors. Here are some cold weather dog training ideas.
Instead of endless, mindless ball throwing that builds a better physical athlete, you can add structure and work in impulse control simultaneously. Use a hallway or create one by moving furniture. You want a one-way path. Have your dog sit-stay while you face him and throw the ball behind you. This way you are blocking him from the ball. When you step aside and ‘release’ him, his only option after getting the ball is to move towards you. This is also a great way to teach dogs that get the ball, but then run away. As he learns the new game and gets better at his impulse control, you can position yourself slightly to the side. Be ready to step back in front if he looks ready to launch before you give the release. This game can be played using stairs as well. Now you are working on physical and mental exercise while you both stay warm.
Long Down Stays
If your dog is a busy body and needs help learning how to relax and be calm or if he is always right on top of you being needy or pushy, this is an excellent way to work on impulse control. The trick here is that breaking the down doesn’t get a big praise or reward. We want the ‘reward’ to be a relaxed dog. Even better, is a dog that is so relaxed he has fallen asleep. A leash will help if he decides to bail to the other room, you can calmly get the end of the leash and lead him back to the place you want him to lay down. When the weather warms up and you are ready to enjoy lunch on a dog friendly patio, it will be much more enjoyable after teaching him how to relax.
Another great idea for cold weather dog training is to work on your dog staying calm while being handled. Trips to the vet and groomer will be less stressful for you and your dog. Regularly checking teeth, ears, skin and general outward appearance is the best way for you to keep an eye on your dog’s health. We tend to wait until something is wrong (injury/infection) or needs to be done (nail trimming/cleaning) before handling our dogs. Handling your dog in your home when they are calm and relaxed will only make life easier when it is time for your next appointment.
Pet Friendly Businesses
Desensitizing your dog to the vet’s office and pet store is another cold weather dog training opportunity. Popping by your vet without being there for a shot or temperature check will reduce your dog’s anxiety. Instead of seeing the doctor, sit in the waiting room and have Fido hop on the scale. Pet stores are sensory overload for dogs. Keeping a dog’s focus with all those yummy smells, takes a lot of impulse control. Working on keeping their focus is difficult when you are trying to shop at the same time, so take a trip when you aren’t there to pick up a 50lb bag of food.
Other than pet stores and veterinary offices, there are many big chain stores that allow dogs. It’s a great way to environmentally socialize your dog to different sounds, smells and textures. Always be sure to check with the store’s manager before bringing your dog inside. Some nationally listed dog-friendly businesses are:
- Lowe’s and Home Depot
- Pottery Barn
- Macy’s, Gap, Bloomingdale’s, Urban Outfitters, Nordstrom, Old Navy
- Barnes and Noble
- Bass Pro Shops, Tractor Supply Co.
Many hotel chains are also pet friendly.
- Best Western, Red Roof, La Quinta, Holiday Inn, Marriott, W Hotels, Aloft, Sheraton
Taking a car ride often means something to your dog; the vet, the dog park, the groomer, to pick up the kids, or going on vacation. Many dogs get car sick or loose stools after a car ride because of the excitement and stress. Taking a car ride just to drive around will help desensitize them to the car. Loading them up, starting the engine, making a phone call and unloading is the place to start. Maybe drive to the park, check your emails and drive home. The key is to make the car a neutral place.
For more cold weather dog training ideas and places, check out these links: