Tera’s Training Tip Of The Day: Training During Inclement Weather.
I’m sure everyone across the country is hoping for Spring to dawn early. This Winter across the U.S. has been brutally cold with records being broken every week. Ice storms, multi-car pile ups, major highway closures, snowfall, days off of work and school are just some of the inconveniences that occur during this type of winter weather. As these treacherous winter conditions unfold we as Retriever Enthusiast and Trainers want and need to train our retrievers in order to prepare for the upcoming Spring/Summer season. Training retrievers in these conditions is not impossible with some creativity, proper care, and attention to detail it can be done safely and effectively.
Your dogs paws can become worn, cut, or iced while training in the winter. Having dog shoes or booties can help. At first most dogs do not like these shoes, but once they get used to them it saves the owner from hours of tedious foot care. Hydration is also key, as a house dog they are susceptible to dehydration due to the heating of our homes. As an outside dog water helps the dog stay warm and regulate their body temperature. As a Professional Retriever Trainer I try not to let the weather affect our weekly training schedule. Unfortunately, one must draw the line when safety due to conditions could be questionable. Icy conditions are too dangerous. When dogs loose footing tissues tear and career ending falls can ensue. As a rule, Bay Blue Kennels trains 6 days a week unless it is lightning, ice or snow. I don’t mind training in the snow but visibility becomes an issue.
Many have asked what can I do with my retriever during these conditions? If you are lucky enough to have friends with horses, indoor arenas or pole buildings can provide lots of space for some fundamental drill work such as the wagon wheel casting and lining, pattern blinds with diversion, “W” pattern, and the cabin drill. If you can not find an indoor space get out your snow blower, snowmobile or call the plow truck. I like the snow blowers and snowmobiles for creating paths for my patterns initially. The paths provide a clear direction of travel creating an opportunity to develop your dogs muscle memory and get him/her back into shape after being a couch potatoe. Bounding over the snow although pretty to watch can be dangerous and near impossible to run a straight line when your dealing with feet of snow. Be creative, be safe, and most of all have fun during this wicked winter.