Winter means one major thing to your training: LOW DISTRACTIONS. And low distractions means high success!
Unlike those perfect weather folks in Florida and California, winter clears out a lot of the distractions for our outdoor training. The ground is covered in snow making it less interesting to sniff. There’s less dogs out and about. The squirrels are hibernating instead of taunting your dog to make him pull you down the street – I swear they think that’s hilarious.
Everything is easier.
I’d bet you money that your dog listens to a “sit” command better in your house than he does off-leash in the dog park. The reason for this is because the house is FAR less distracting to your dog than a crowded dog park (and you probably practice more in the quiet of your house).
So if you’ve decided to be lazy this winter, here’s a few things to help you reconsider:
2) Off-leash training – as everyone knows, I love off-leashing dogs. For many of the same reasons as dog reactivity, it’s far easier to train a dog to be off-leash in the winter so he’s ready for freedom when you take him to the dog beach on summer vacation. Learning how to perform basic commands in a cold world with no dogs, people, or rabbits around makes for a great start to off-leash training. By the time spring time comes and other people start coming out to walk their dogs again, your dog already has his off-leash foundations down and you will be the envy of all your neighbors whose dogs haven’t been on a walk for 4 months. While they look like they’re skiing behind their dog, your dog will be trotting right by your side without a leash while you sip on a Frappucino with your free hands. Watch Rosie, our current board train, training in an empty park in the video above!
3) Less intimidating pack walks – Pack walks are something I do for free because I think it’s important for dogs who are struggling (or not) to have a “safe space” to learn how to be around other dogs. On top of that it’s great exercise for dogs and people and a fun way to socialize for everyone. In the spring and summer, these pack walks can easily be 15-20 dogs. In the winter, it could be a smaller group like 3-5 dogs – a far less intimidating number for a dog who is new to being around other dogs. If you’ve been wanting to get your dog better socialized, bundle up and join the smaller, more intimate, less intimidating group. Then by the time the fair-weather walkers come out, your dog knows the process and carries himself with the swag of a pack-walk veteran.
So if you’re not ready to attack the winter, get a nice North Face or Carhartt jacket and some boots and get to training. You’ve got a few months to sharpen your dog’s skills and improve your life before everyone comes out of their hibernation.
If you need some help, don't wait! AWDT can help with your dog’s behavior problem or your basic obedience this winter!