September 18, 2012 @ 8:03 PM


How to keep your dog happy, exercised, and continue training through the coldest weather.

When it is hard to work with your dog or properly exercise him, here are some ideas that can help.

Work in your garage-You can practice loose leash walking, heeling, stays, come when called. At least you are both protected from the wind and the snow. Be sure to use your clicker & your treats to mark and reward all good behavior

Play the recall game in your home- Call your dog back and forth between you and another person in your household. Use dog's name only, as soon as your dog turns toward you when he hears his name, click, praise like crazy (Yeah!!!!) and kneel down to welcome him to you. Give a yummy treat when he gets to you and lot of petting. Now the other person playing the game does the same. Back and forth your dogs goes, having fun, learning to heed his name, and getting some exercise.

Play retrieve- Play retrieving with a ball or favorite toy. First get the dog interested in the toy by waving it around, tugging, bouncing the ball, etc. Now throw it and say "Fetch" or "Get it". When your dog goes out to pick the toy up, call him using his name, and as he comes back, use your clicker, praise, praise, praise, and give a treat when he drops the toy.
Dogs like a high pitched voice, so you guys, get your girlie voice out. When he returns to you hold a treat near his nose to get him to drop the toy, click when he drops it, give the treat, and you are ready to go again. You can do this in the house or garage, just choose your largest room, and work in the longest space. Repeat until your dog has had enough exercise.

Play Stairball- Sit at the bottom or top of your stairs and play retrieve up and down the stairs, Follow above directions to get the dog to give you the ball or favorite toy. Don't play this game if your dog has any physical problems, and don't overdue even with a healthy dog. Running up and down stairs is good exercise but a little goes a long way.

Work on Attention-Say your dog's name in an upbeat friendly voice, when he makes eye contact, use your clicker, give him a treat and praise. Can be done all day long.

And let's not forget a nice romp in the snow for those dogs that enjoy it. Just keep an eye on your dog that his paws are not freezing. Lifting up a paw, limping, & whimpering are signs that you need to bring your dog inside. There are boots for dogs on the market, personally, my little dog Lola, an Italian Greyhound, always manages to get one off, which I then have to search for in the snow. But perhaps your dog will keep his boots on! It's worth a try, and protects their feet from not just the cold, but also salt if you take a walk on the road. If your dog is short haired, I feel they should be wearing a well fitting, warm coat, regardless of their size. All small dogs should wear coats, they are low to the ground and get colder, sort of like your feet getting cold in freezing weather due to their contact with the cold ground. When you come inside, if your dog is a hairy footed critter, you will need to melt or remove those snowballs they can get in their paws. A hairdryer set on low heat, and be sure to keep it moving so you don't burn your dog, can be very helpful here.

Linda Lukens
Common Ground Dog Training