This time of year we look out the window and into the winter’s ravages: it’s cold, dark, snowy and icy, and we have a hard time environmentally exercising the dog in the outdoors. We want to cozy up in front of the fireplace instead working the dog. This often means that Fido may lose or have shorter daily walks and become bored, and unruly.
Misty Pines can help! We have training programs designed to keep your dog fit and in top condition all winter long. Exercise is essential for the general well-being and mental health of our canine companions, not to mention for healthy weight management. Bring your dog in for a visit to Daycare to run and socialize with other friendly dogs. We have indoor options as well during the winter for dogs that can’t handle the cold. Your dog can have a run on the treadmill, take on the agility course, play ball or have a training session all while staying inside.
If you are not able to take advantage of our facility’s services then we have some recommendations for you. Engage your dog and provide the mental and physical stimulation he or she needs at home. Dogs that have jobs are more content than those that don’t.
Why a treadmill you ask? You can infinitely exercise your dog indoors, which means that you are no longer governed by the weather. At Misty Pines we say that a well-trained and well-exercised dog is a good dog and by working your dog on a treadmill you are accomplishing both at the same time; working your dog mentally and physically.
What kinds of dogs do well with treadmill training? All dogs! Honestly. From large dogs to small, dogs can benefit for a variety of reasons. The training program can vary depending on breed, ability and age.
Retrieving is one of the handiest behaviors you can teach your dog. When your dog will reliably retrieve an object there is no end to what you can do. This goes beyond simple playing fetch with a ball, this is locating, picking up and bringing objects to you.
Sitting on the couch and the remote is across the room…Fetch it up!
It’s double over-time, next point wins the cup, you’re borderline dehydrated and your bottle of water is in the kitchen…Fetch it up!
There’s a lot more you can do than just have your dog bring you things but this opens up a whole world of possibilities that were previously unexplored. One fun idea would be to teach your dog to put away its toys. It’s a good practice to put all your dog’s toys and bones away every few days and let them work their mind as they get them out to play, and it would be even more stimulating to have them put them all back as well!
Every dog is equipped with an amazing tool: their nose! Olfaction, the act or process of smelling, is a dog’s primary special sense. Dogs have more than 220 million olfactory receptors in their nose, while humans have only 5 million! Teaching dogs to use their nose to identify a target odor offers many benefits.
Why scent work? This fun, stimulating activity can be enjoyed by dogs of any age, breed, or temperament and owners of any experience level or physical ability may participate. This is one of the few activities that can be practiced inside in small areas; it’s great for winter or foul-weather training plus your dog will learn a skill that has practical value in real-life.
Examples of targets include: Birch, clove, and aniseed oil (used in scent work trials), deer antlers, plants or mushrooms, a missing sock, a favorite toy or your kids.
If you’re interested in Scent Work, consider taking our Scent Work classes on November 11th, 18th and 25th. These classes will teach you the art of scent detection
Tight Quarters Heeling
When working a dog in a tight space the heel can become sloppy because the handler is focused on the obstacles and path rather than working on keeping the dog where he needs to be. Take this winter to work on a heel when walking around the house, perhaps even setup a course to navigate through consisting of tables, chairs, couches and other furniture. Though this may sound like a novice exercise, with the proper creativity, this can be a very challenging task. When Spring rolls around you can show off your improved heel when taking back to the streets and trails and be proud of your accomplishment.
Everyone loves to show off their dog’s best skill or trick, that’s why every dog friendly event has a Best Dog Trick competition. What is your dog’s best trick?
Army crawl under the table? Put down the toilet seat? All of these behaviors/tricks and more are possible. Whether it’s a useful trick or just for fun the goal is to keep your dog mentally stimulated and physically worked when the great outdoors aren’t so great.
Prolonged Release Interactive Food Dispensing Devices
Other cures for the winter doldrums that we recommend are prolonged release interactive food dispensing devices. These help give your dog a work-out while doing something when eating their breakfast or dinner. Our domestic canine’s ancestor, the Canis Lupus, works hard both mentally and physically for each meal. How hard do our canine companions work for their meals? Problem solving work outs can be more tiring than physical exercise so switching between a few different prolonged release interactive food dispensing devices could be a good way to keep your dog mentally sharp while giving them some much needed stimulation. We recommend Bob-a-Lots, Kongs and a few other specialty items that can be found in our retail store.
A private lesson with one of our trainers will help you learn to work your dog and minimize the winter doldrums. Enjoy this winter and remember to continually integrate training into your daily lives.