Solutions for where and how
If you live in an area where winter means cold and snow, you know how hard it can be to keep your retriever in shape and learning throughout the winter season. What you might not realize, is that while it might not always be comfortable training your retriever in the winter, there are drills and concepts you can work on that will keep your retriever advancing in knowledge and in top shape. Here are some ideas on how to train your retriever in the winter.
Where to train your retriever in the winter
Snow can quickly reduce your training area causing many to wonder “How can I possibly train. There’s no room to do marks or drills!”
It is true that deep snow can make training difficult. Throwing marks in deep snow can be counter productive since they sink and do not give off much scent in the cold making it extremely difficult for your retriever to find the bumper. Too many experiences not finding the bumper can degrade your retriever’s confidence. That is why, for winter training, you need to think outside the box.
Some locations I have found useful in the winter are:
large parking lots during off hours,
school lots during weekends,
business parking lots on the weekend or early evening (many are still lit),
frozen lakes, and
If you happen to live near a lake, frozen lakes are often great training areas. The snow is usually not deep on lakes, due to the wind, and when there is snow, it is often crusty and hard allowing bumpers to rest on top instead of sinking. In addition, your retriever can usually run on the crusty snow easier.
A few cautionary notes that really should go without saying:
- make sure you get permission to use such places, and
make sure they are safe for your retriever.
Hazards of training your retriever in the winter
Training in the winter can be tough on dogs. Their paws and limbs can take a beating, so be watchful for any injuries or signs of them not running like they usually do. Also, make sure you have plenty of water for your dog to drink, they can dehydrate fast while training in the winter.
Great drills to work on with retriever in winter
There are several drills that can be worked on in the winter. Here are my top ones.
Stand Alones Drill
One drill that you can teach your retriever in the winter that can also transfer over to the spring and beyond is Stand Alones. These have been popularized by trainer, Dennis Voigt. The drill is great for working on several fundamentals such as communication between your dog and you, obedience with the SIT/STAY command, steadiness, and marking.
3-Hand Cast Drill
Three-hand cast or baseball is a great drill to do in the winter because you don’t need a lot of room to do this drill.
The No-No drill is great for teaching your retriever to take straight lines to the downed bird or bumper. This results in your dog being a better marker and a stronger competitor.
Final thoughts on training your retriever in the winter
Winter does not have to be a time of your dog sitting around. With these drills you can teach your dog something new and keep him/her in shape at the same time.
Remember, if you really want your retriever to grow and progress in his/her hunting this year but doing the training yourself sounds overwhelming or maybe your schedule is just too busy to get it done, I’m here to help! You can email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or just give me a call (651-303-6459). I would be happy to discuss your goals for your retriever and tell you about the programs I offer.
Until next time happy retrieving.