Winter Rest and Play
Winter has officially started at my house here in Eastern Oregon, which means outside training time for my dogs has greatly decreased.
While we still go outside for play time and daily exercise, with the off and on rain/snow, any agility training is off the table until spring.
For my dogs I enjoy having some forced time off during the winter. Not only do I feel that it is beneficial for my dogs mental health, I also strongly feel that having some time off is crucial for my dogs physical health as well.
Generally my trialing season slows down quite a bit after NADAC Championships in Sept/Oct. I will generally attend 2-3 trials in Oct and November, but from then until about March, my dogs have that time off.
Their time off consists of no agility training as far as obstacles, and no trials. But this doesn’t mean that they sit around the house for months on end doing nothing.
They still get daily exercise and play time outside, along with enrichment puzzles/toys 2-3 times a week. (more on why my dogs don’t eat all their meals from enrichment toys in a future blog)
During the winter I like to teach my dogs at least two new tricks, as well as work on strengthening their foundational skills. Teaching new tricks helps continue to build a working relationship between myself and my dog, as well as help with my dogs cognitive health by learning something new.
I strengthen their foundational skills like directionals, contacts, startlines, etc, by going back to the foundation steps of how I taught those skills. By taking your dog back to these foundation steps each year, no matter if they are young and in Novice, or in Elite, will help continue to strengthen and make those advanced skills even more solid.
The benefits both mental and physical of having time off from trialing, and obstacle work, to working on those foundational skills is huge, and has a big pay off for both you and you dog!
What are your plans this winter with your dog? Let me know in the comments below!
Wanna see what I am doing with my dogs this winter? Come join the Fluid Motion Coaching Group and join me in working foundations this winter!
One thought on “Winter Rest and Play”
Solo and I are trying to work on a plan for “the off season”. In October, I found out Solo has hip dysplasia. With the diagnosis, we have been working on pain control and learning our limitations. We do an indoor agility class on Tuesdays and Barn Hunt on Mondays. The rest of the week is done at home work small things like fit paws, playing with our dog friends, and currently we are doing an online start lines class with Erin Batchelor. At least 1 day a week is set aside of a day of rest for Solo-meaning days of no extreme sports-although he does not approve of these days and ends up doing some table top dancing as a protest.