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Winter can make us crabby, errr, I mean efficient.

Julie Bacon Dream-n-Scheme Goals Training

I’ve been stuck in the house now for three days because of a “storm” that left behind a sheet of ice and temps cold enough to keep that ice around. The three dogs have made great use of the back yard, but when my Amazon shipping notice said the mailman couldn’t get up the driveway to deliver their dehydrated raw, I kinda lost it. By lost it, I mean I yelled at my laptop for about 40 seconds. I'm good now.

So winter. No matter where you live, it impacts your training schedule in some way - colder temps, rain, snow or just shorter days. Even those of us who have breeds that prefer freezing temps have trouble getting it all done. I mean, they might want to be outside in the cold, but I sure don’t!

Here are a few tips and tricks (pun intended!) on getting some work in without succumbing to those winter blues.

  • Use this time to plan. Look at your trial dates, get your “dogmin” stuff organized. Print out entry forms, send in those overdue dog license renewals, make hotel reservations ... you get the idea. Clear your “desk” of the stuff that takes your focus off of your dog.
  • Get granular. Review those goals for 3, 6 and 12 months to see if your training is on track. Check against your milestones and realize that while time might be dragging now, it will speed up when your big goal weekend is within range. Look at your training schedule and make those process goals.
  • Go to a class. Maybe you don’t train in a group on the regular, but getting out of the house has its merits this time of year. If you can’t do that, meet a group at Home Depot or one of the other dog-friendly stores and get some work done. Even five minutes of training is better than nothing, plus you get your errands done!
  • Break it down. Take something you think can only be trained with an open space and break the elements down so they fit in your kitchen, living room or hallway. Even aspects of carting and agility can be worked on the flat. Send around a plunger (instead of a wing), hide articles in a dark room, practice back up in the hall.
  • Make it count. With just a little planning on your drive home from work, you can come up with a plan as to how you want to spend some precious minutes with your dog. Revisit the five-minute challenge or leave a car out of the garage to allow for a quality session with your dog.

What’s interesting about this time of year is that it can actually force us to be more efficient and to have a better training plan. I don’t know about your calendar, but my March is packed with trials and I want to - need to - be ready to roll. Plus, these dogs need something to do! Yikes.

But don’t worry, if all that fails, remember, the days are getting longer :)

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