Making the most out of winter dog walks

Posted on Thursday, February 7, 2013 by Jo Clarke

Making the most out of your winter dog walks!

Winter can be a pretty miserable time for anyone involved with animals, especially when it is a very wet and muddy one with interspersed snow like we have been having so far this winter! So here is a post of my top Five things to do on walks to keep your dog busy and obedient, and your walks fun!!

  1. For Snowy walks, hide treats in the snow and get your dog to dig and find them, as he gets better at finding them make the hiding place more difficult or ask him to stay so you can hide things out of sight then send your dog to find them- works great with food or toys!
  2. Practice heel off lead in quiet areas where there are no distractions using treats or a game with a toy to reward your dog once he has remained by your side for a few pace- increase the difficulty by asking him to stay to heel for longer, or around more distractions.
  3. Teach you dog to ‘indicate’ on a find either by using his paw- Hide his favourite toy under something low to ground such as a log, tile or behind a fence where he can still see it or smell it. Make sure your dog watches you doing it. Ask him to find and the second he paws the object his toy is hidden under praise him- and get it for him and have a good game. Repeat making locations harder, out of sight etc as he gets better at it!
  4. Teach an indication on a find by barking! Find a high motivation toy or treat for your dog- let him watch you hide it somewhere inaccessible and at a height where he can’t reach with paws as before it needs to be somewhere he can see it or smell it easily. Ask him to find it and wind him up to get it, when he is frustrated that he can’t, if your dog naturally communicates with barking- you should find this behaviour comes easily! Release the toy for a game after he barks- then continue as above!
  5. Get your recall up to scratch. Take your dog out on a hungry stomach with his breakfast and a favourite toy/selection of favourite treats. Find somewhere safe to let him off lead or on to a long line that is quiet and free from other distractions. Show him his breakfast and run away from him encouraging him with the rewards to chase you, use his recall e.g. ‘Bert, Come’ as you do so. As he catches you up praise and reward with a game/handful of food. Repeat until he turns on a sixpence to chase and keeps an eye on where you are going- you can the practice trying to hide from him, adding distractions or increasing distance and speed!

Have fun with these ideas- they all help your dog to burn off mental and physical energy and play on using his natural instincts in a controllable and fun way- Winter walks will never be a drag again!!