Puppy training in the winter
How do you do it up here? I'm going to have an 8 week puppy sent up here at the very beginning of January. I want to be able to get it out to do some training, but I realize the temperature can be kinda bad for a pup up here. I don't want to leave the pup inside for 4 months waiting on the weather to come around, but I don't want to wait too long to have the pup outside training and seeing longer marks than I can do inside. How do you do it up here? I'm looking at taking him during my lunch break each day, but I just want to know if you know good places to train. Not asking for anyone's specific location, but if you think certain types of areas work well. Putting quite a chunk of change into this pup, and the breeding is amazing, so I want to make sure I don't short the pup training time because of weather.
Oh relax. You've got plenty of time and places to work the little one.
Right off.....you are correct. Little puppy isn't going to like being outside very much. Mainly because the cold will get to your pups feet and they just haven't developed the hair yet. As your pup grows your pup will fair longer periods of time in the cold.
I have trained at -15 and personally that is my cutoff. My help and I are in it longer than the dogs are. I have to go out and set everything up while the dogs are cozy in the dog truck. They are out for about 5 to 10 minutes depending on the setup and are working that entire time. Afterwards they are back in the truck.
That being said.......hallways, large rooms, warehouses, aircraft hangars, even a few heated barns are a few indoor places I have trained during winter in the past. Plowed parking lots work good for throwing marks and even drill work.
I use special made foam rubber bumpers during the winter. I keep them indoors when I'm not using them. The foam rubber holds heat longer and stays soft and pliable in the dogs mouth even when cold. The plastic bumpers when cold get really hard and brittle. Sometimes freezing to the dogs lips. Some other folks prefer canvas bumpers but when working a truck load of dogs I find that the dogs slopper freezes to the canvas and it just becomes a mess several dogs later. Then you have to thaw and clean it all off.
Another tip, of course sorta of a no brainer, but use black, black/white or green bumpers. So they are visible on the white snow.
How are you going to handle waiting that long? Whose this pup out of?
You are on EAFB right?
Look for cleared parking lots or other spots with compacted snow. You don't want the bumpers to sink out of sight, but you also don't want a place where the pup is going to be tearing up toe nails on asphalt.
It can be a challenge to find a spot during the day. In the evenings things are usually better since most folks have gone home. School yards get very compacted about three days after a snowfall.
Do the local clubs offer winter training sessions?
How about "puppy class". Do they exist?
Should we start our own?
The clubs do offer puppy classes. Typically getting started in January.
Once hunting season comes to a close I will start working with training groups again. Contact me if you wish to partipate.
I'm would love to participate, but you're in the valley right?
Cold wx ideas
I shy away from bladed parking lots. They tend to be slick. Even snow packed by tires can get slick. School yards packed by kids or areas packed by snow machines work well as the dogs get great traction and the bumpers stay on top. I don't worry too much about the asphalt, at least on pups. They don't tend to run that hard. And the asphalt does help keep nails worn down a bit.
Bird wings are nice to use if you have them, goose or crane wings being the best. If you don't then just get on the H2O Fowl forum and ask the bird hunters to save you some. Even feathered carcasses work well too. I would not tend to train a small pup with mallards. Be reasonable about what you want the dog to carry. For a pup try upland birds or teal.
For cold weather I will carry multiple whistles on multiple lanyards. They tend to freeze up, and I want to be consistent when I call the dog back.
As always, keep the sessions short and successful. You'll both enjoy training more that way.
Last winter my daughter and I had our pup out on the river at -52. Yes, that is extreme. At that time Roca was about 6 or 7 months as I recall. For temps that cold we tried to use only feathers.