Surviving the cold snap

We’ve had snow here since Friday night, and it is really beautiful outside. My mum and I took the dogs for a walk in it today. O.J was let off his lead because there was no traffic and he loved it. Dougal refused to walk and had to be carried part of the way. His paws must have been freezing though because the snow had caked in around his feet by the time we got home. Ouch!

The snow created a good opportunity for me to practice obedience with O.J. It sends him completely crazy, and he will run constantly until you put his lead back on. If we’re out for a walk his recall is almost perfect, but in our garden he can be a nightmare. Yesterday he ran down the steps to the neighbours house for the first time in his life, because she had left out food for the birds. She has cats and feeds the dog down the road as well, so I was hoping O.J would never discover this. He hasn’t until now! He ran down today and completely refused to come back when I called him.
My mum thinks I should just always take him out on a long lead but I want him to learn not to go down there and to come as soon as he’s called. We did lots of obedience exercises to remind him of this. I call him and make him sit at my right hand side. I will walk a few metres away, then call him until he comes and sits at the same place again. I let him run free for a minute then call him again. I rarely use food to motivate him but he gets an unexpected treat now and again, just to make sure he keeps coming back.
The excitement of the snow is just so much for him and its not surprising he forgets to listen to me, but it was a good reminder for me that he can get a bit naughty sometimes.

The snow is fine because if its bad enough nobody can go anywhere and there’s nothing you can do about it. The trouble starts when the snow melts and we’re left with icy freezing conditions that are difficult to work in with a guide dog. The dog is trained to stay on the footpath and not walk on the road unless you are crossing over. Footpaths here never get gritted so walking anywhere is impossible.
How do other guide dog owners manage when they have to go somewhere? I keep meaning to try out a pair of
yak trax
which might help me to walk more easily. I know that O.J would have a fit if I put dog boots on him, and I wouldn’t blame him!

Icy weather and no walks means that bordum will eventually set in. I’m lucky that O.J has lots of space and toys inside and Dougal to keep him company. He is very relaxed, but by the third day of no walks he gets restless. Looks like we’ll be doing lots of training to keep his mind active if the cold weather keeps up. He’ll be learning to read soon enough 🙂


8 thoughts on “Surviving the cold snap

  1. I'm dreading the winter snow as well. They generally do 1 pass with the sidewalk snow plow since I live on a main road that runs through a number of towns, the stupid thing is they stop plowing about 150-200' BEFORE the sidewalk actually ends at the light, so in order to get to the light, I have to walk in the road where cars all are congregating beacuse there is a light there. It is a nightmare! James was actually very good and careful when we were in the road there during the winter months, but he was traffic trained! Jess is too young for that, and even though she is learning and getting very good at "over" on sidewalk-less travel, she is dumb as a post about cars and has no clue that we need to be warry of them. I am really not looking forward to this winter season!

  2. Yes, Cricket and I are missing our walks- so needed. Also exploring the boot option this year. Trying to be positive in the winter … but it just complicates things!

  3. Clive is loving the snow as well. He loses all sense though as well and can't distinguish between the paths and roads. We live in the middle of a housing estate – no gritters ever come in here – so the paths and roads are lethal and all look the same. I have had no hip replacements so don't like to risk taking Clive for a walk in this weather. My right hip has dislocated twice (not a good experience) so I walk as little as possible in the snow! Thankfully, Murray's sister is great for taking Clive out (and Murray)out!take careFiona

  4. I'm still waiting on my yaktrax to arrive!Today I just couldn't work Ushi at all. I've just been letting her run around the garden lol. I couldn't work her at all today. When I have been working her i've only been able to go round our estate (very boring!). I want to go further, but did on Sunday and Ushi couldn't find her kerbs.It's a real pain. Thankfully today was only the first day I couldn't work her, but if it keeps up, I might have to phone the team.It kind of gets you down though doesn't it? Oh and do your dogs rush on the snow? Ushi does lol. Needs a lot of corrections!Xxx.

  5. Fiona I wouldn't blame you for not wanting to walk Clive after all that!Torie don't worry about not being able to work her. There's nothing you can do and she won't forget anything. Its impossible to find kerbs in thick snow, and trying to work her in it just might confuse things since she's quite new. You wouldn't want her walking over too many kerbs and not stopping, even though it wouldn't be her fault.Jen

  6. I live in the country so we don't have sidewalks, but our yard is huge so I just play fetch with Cessna (dog guide) and my other canine companions. she gets work in town though, when we go shopping or to visit my sister and no matter what, she continues to work well. I just make sure to do a lot of obedience exercises while we're home and unable to get out working. I've also started to teach her to walk on a tredmill so she'll get her exercise that way too. I have yaktrax and love them, totally recommend them for the icy sidewalks and find that boots on Cessna doesnt really slow her down like you'd think they would, they just get her frustrated and walking faster so she can get them off quicker – but they do work well at keeping the salt and ice from bothering her.

  7. Do you have access to something like musher's secret or paw guard? They are waxes that come in a tin or a thing that looks like a large lip balm tube? There are also paw boots that are thin latex and easy to put on.

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