Why Winter is the Perfect Time to Train Your Dog

It’s snowing, it’s cold out. The last thing you want to do is get in a cold car and drive to a dog obedience class—right? But look at your furry friend. He’s jumping on you, bringing you toys, barking. He’s going nuts stuck in the house all day.

He needs exercise and attention. Cocker spaniel wearing jacket and booties in the snow

What better place to give it than indoors at a dog obedience class?

For one evening, both you and your dog will get some exercise and be tired out. Then the rest of the week you can work in mini training periods, either outside or in the house. It will give you something practical to do with your dog—even if he doesn’t really need it.

We can all use a refresher, or go for the next level or type of class.

Benefits of obedience training – especially in the winter:

  • It gives your dog a good workout for at least one cold, snowy night when he probably would have been pestering you to play with him.
  • It’s good mental stimulation for your dog.
  • You will strengthen your bond with your dog.
  • Training may save his life. The recall, down and wait command are vital to learn.
    • It was hard for my springer, Cassie, to turn her attention away from something and come to me. Instead, I used the down and wait commands. This allowed me to approach her and attach her leash. I used these commands a lot.
  • Training may allow you to keep your dog.
    • Last month at a party, I heard that one of my neighbors was looking for a good home for her 9 month-old labradoodle. The pup was too much for her. She told me several months ago, she might take an obedience class after the holidays. Topper might have still been with her if she had signed up immediately.

I inherited Buffy and Chipper when they were 4 and 8 years old. My 85-year-old mom had never trained them. I immediately signed them up for basic obedience and then advanced training. Our class always started out with 5 – 10 minutes of brisk walking with our dogs heeling. The occasional direction changes and sit-stays broke up the walking. This exercise made the younger dogs less antsy, but wore out my cockers, who were very overweight at that time (Mom couldn’t remember if she had fed them). Canine Good Citizen Diploma for Buffy

Buffy and Chipper learned to listen a lot better. They even earned their Canine Good Citizen award, although Chipper almost didn’t pass, since he decided he would rather visit Buffy than come to me. But he passed on the second round.

Cassie passed away a few years ago, but she loved training. She started out at only ten weeks (probably too young, but the minimum age at the time), and went through every type of training that the local

pet store held. She preferred agility and I found a private trainer and entered her into field trials.

January is National Train Your Dog Month – a perfect time to train your dog.

Dog on stay command
Buffy doing a down stay for her dinner.


Animal Wellness magazine has a good article on what to look for in an obedience class and how to prepare at http://animalwellnessmagazine.com/dog-training-classes/

Here are some additional benefits of dog training http://www.pawstbm.com/blog/2012/04/19/5-Benefits-of-Dog-Training.aspx

Should you sign up for an obedience class?

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24 thoughts on “Why Winter is the Perfect Time to Train Your Dog

  1. Obedience classes are essential…especially for the lax pet parent that may get annoyed with that antsy puppy that just wants to play. 10 weeks is actually an ideal age to start training. Puppies remember their early lessons when they are reinforced with rewards. Gusto has been through 3 obedience classes already. He is now focusing on Conformation classes so that he can win in the show ring…it’s not as easy as it looks…lol

  2. I think I should sign up for one for my Granddog Link. He is 2 and just like a toddler lol. Sometimes it’s hard to tell though. He does a lot of good things on command, its just that he gets playing with the cats like crazy! They do not mind at all though so maybe I am the only one with an issue haha!

  3. True, winter is a great time for training stuff. Particularly when it’s too cold to be outside (and we’re no wusses but -30 degrees (Celsius) feels like -40 simply is too damn cold.

  4. Great post, I rescued Layla when she was about 5 years old, had never been trained and from her surrender papers realized she had lived outdoors most of the time. So I trained her with the most important first which was recall and potty training and then started training her to sit LOL, biggest mistake as she would walk 5 steps and sit and wait for a treat so I in the end gave up on that one. Winter is a great time for training as it does keep the occupied and busy.

  5. Great points! It’s so easy to stay shut up in the house when it’s cold outside. It’s a great time to train your pup, at a class or even refreshers or new tricks at home.

  6. I like the idea of using an alternative command (Sit, Stay) for a dog like Cassie who might be easily distracted. So many people think their pets have to follow the strictest rules when in training, but for me, the willingness to be flexible has always made training pets more productive. The training needs to fit the personality of each dog.

  7. Great idea! Reinforcing training is always helpful. You’re so right, if you never train a puppy they can quickly become too much to handle. Sharing.
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv

  8. It’s the perfect time of the year to get our dogs out and learn something new, or just brush up on their training!
    Congrats to Chipper and Buffy for passing their Canin Good Citizen test! My dog Edie took her test this past summer and as nervous as I was about her passing it, she did *proud mom*

  9. I didn’t know that January is National Train Your Dog Month. I’m sure our dog could use a brush up with his training. I like that you point out that training can possibly save his life. I’ve seen dogs running in the streets and traffic and not listening to their owners. And being well trained definitely would’ve come in handy then.

  10. I wonder why some people buy some breeds of dog. A Labradoodle is an active dog and not one for someone who is less than active and PRO active in training. Silly lady, I’m sorry she couldn’t cope. I read about Buffy and Chipper with pride in their achievements. Training really enhanced their lives and wellbeing didn’t it!

    Someone said a dog had been removed from a house local to us for persistent barking. What a shame when some fun training would have built a strong bond with their owner and stopped the upset.

    • The neighbor wanted a labradoodle like their last dog (who also was out of control). Even though Buffy and Chipper were the oldest ones in the class and got worn out from the activity, it was great for them and they lost some weight too!

  11. My dog Taffy went through obedience training and yes, she learned things. She was often used by the instructor to demonstrate the behavior you did not want your dog to exhibit. Regardless, we enjoyed this special time together.

    Once Taffy went through puberty, however, she could not stand to be around other dogs. I finally gave up on the socialization, though we continued to train her at home. While there are downsides to this, there is also a big upside. She is the first dog I’ve had that did not catch a nasty illness from another dog. I attribute her long life to her much preferring her human family over socializing with other dogs.

    • Hi Karen! Chipper also didn’t like other dogs, but somehow in class, he seemed to know not to bark or get upset by the other dogs. You got me on not getting sick. Cassie came down with Coonhound paralysis a few days after attending a weekend agility meet. I always wonder if somehow she caught something, even though it’s not a contagious disease. After recovering from this autoimmune disease, the vet said to limit her social encounters with other dogs – no groomers, agility trials, training, or dog parks. Then her autoimmune disease didn’t return.

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