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What To Train When It’s Cold?

Picture this: It has been blistering cold outside all day, you drove home from work in a snowstorm dreaming about cuddling up on the couch with a fuzzy blanket and a hot chocolate… But when you get home your dog is bouncing off the walls and really needs activity!! What do you do?

Anyone who lives in a place where the temperature drops below freezing knows this struggle! Our dogs get a lot of pent up energy waiting for it to get nice outside… But there are actually quite a few things you can train right in your home. Stay warm and train with these ideas!

Proof Your Startline Stay

One of the best ways to get a good startline is to teach and proof the behaviour without any equipment around at all. This helps because your dog is not associating it with agility and therefore you are not practicing unwanted behaviour if they break their stay (and take the first obstacle as they would on a course!). Some tips for proofing:

  1. Choose a startline position for your dog (sit, down, stand)
  2. Test your dog by adding distance, distraction and duration to the stay you are asking for. Here are some examples of things you can do:
    • Walk away, run away, move out of sight
    • Swing your arm - does your dog move based on that motion?
    • Jump up and down
    • Spin in a circle
    • Throw toys around
    • Throw food around
    • Praise your dog
  3. Make sure to reward in position when your dog holds their stay!
  4. Check out the blog series by Assistant Coach Megan Foster on Steps to a Solid Startline to create a pre-startline routine.
  5. Put your newly proofed startline position at the end of your routine

Voila! Next time you head out to the agility arena you will have a brand new startline! Just make sure to uphold your criteria around equipment and keep your routine the same to help generalize the behaviour.

End of Contact Behaviour on the Stairs

So you can’t fit an entire dog walk in your house … but you can still work contacts right in your home! You can train and proof your dog’s 2on2off position on the bottom of your stairs with the back two feet on the last step, and the front two feet on the landing.

*Tip - make sure your dog’s back feet and front feet are on two different textures. For example, if you have wood stairs and wood floor, place a yoga mat or runner rug extending from the bottom of the stairs to your reward. We do this for two reasons: to make for safe stopping and releasing if your floor is slippery and so they feel a different texture under their feet which will help mimic the sensation of the contact and the ground.

Test your dog by adding distance, distraction and duration to the behaviour. Here are some examples of things you can do:

  • Walk away, run away, move out of sight
  • Swing your arm - does your dog move based on that motion?
  • Jump up and down
  • Spin in a circle
  • Throw toys around
  • Throw food around
  • Praise your dog

Make sure to reward when your dog holds their position! Release to food or toy in front of your dog when they are focused forward (as you see in the second picture).

Handling Techniques

Turn on some music and dance in your living room… with your dog! You can practice almost all of the handling techniques without much space or equipment. Doing this off the agility course will help build muscle memory for your footwork.

If you have a little bit more space to work with, check out this setup with only 3 jumps and a tunnel practicing all the basic handling techniques on one course. Once you’ve mastered that you can try the advanced handling techniques on one course. Thank you OneMind Dogs pack member Rebecca Jones for sharing this great activity for small spaces!

Whatever your space limitations are for those cold days, there is always something to practice, and something to help you better connect with your dog - other than cuddling on the couch.

Stay warm and happy training!

Comments

Tammy Clark

These are great ideas, my dog gets so worked up to go out and practice when I get home from work. Living in the panhandle weather can be unpredictable

6 months, 2 weeks ago

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