Brrr, it’s cold outside! But that doesn’t mean all of the great training momentum you and your pup have built up over the past months has to come to a screeching halt.
Even though it’s winter, your dog still needs the physical and mental stimulation that come from learning new skills. Here are some ideas for keeping up with training and exercise when there is snow and ice outside.
1. Teach a skill indoors
Choose a Canine Good Citizen (CGC) skill your dog doesn’t have (or needs to polish) and set up a daily training time indoors. You can work on "sit" (learn how to teach that here), "down" (learn that one here), "come" (here are tips on "come"), and "stay," in a small space. If you are ready to move beyond CGC, start to teach your dog to heel. You can move furniture, such as small tables or chairs, so that you have obstacles that can be used to refine your pup’s heeling skills.
2. Tease their brains
One of the most exciting new training activities is AKC Trick Dog, and tricks at all levels can be easily taught indoors. Novice tricks include behaviors such as barking on cue, crawling, get in a box, jump through a hoop or over a low bar, kiss my cheek, and shake hands. Training videos will help you get started. Tricks training will provide fun and mental puzzles for your dog, and you and your pup will enjoy this positive, happy activity.
3. Provide indoor exercise
Small dogs can be easily exercised indoors by having them chase a ball (you can teach retrieving) in a hallway. Canine freestyle moves (doggy dancing) are a good way to exercise larger dogs indoors. And, there is a certain amount of exercise your dog can get when you do CGC exercises as speed drills — sit, down, come, run with me (in a small area), stop, down, let’s go . . . ” You get the idea.
People go to gyms when the weather is nasty. Consider enrolling your dog in an indoor training class during the winter or try one of these strange-but-fun activities. Nothing will chase those winter blues away faster than earning your dog’s Canine Good Citizen or AKC Community Canine title.
4. Get outdoor exercise
Even when it’s winter, there are breaks in the weather. Put on your coat and go outside with your dog for a brisk exercise walk. In city settings, where sidewalks are clear, you can practice the AKC Urban CGC skills. For outdoor exercise and training, some breeds may need a winter coat, and if sidewalks are salted, you may want to put boots on your dog, but when it comes to training, don’t let winter stand in your way.