As we are now starting to experience spring weather for the third time this year, I wanted to make a few recommendations to start your training off right. Starting with our own yards, go out and do a thorough cleaning of things like decaying grass and leaves, old soggy branches, or any missed winter poops. Our dogs may eat these things leading to an upset stomach. Revisit your leave it training – inside, outside in the yard, and on walks.
Speaking of walks, some people tend to stay indoors more in the winter and emerge in the spring. With warmer weather comes more people and dogs out and about. Our dogs need regular exposure to environments to stay well-socialized, and it may have been several months since they have had this opportunity. Since we live in a city with 4 seasons we change outdoor activities every season. We need to remind our dogs about what bikes and skateboards are and how they move, as well as the people wearing helmets, sunglasses, and more.
If you have brought your puppy home over the last 6 months, these puppies may not know what grass is and are not familiar with spring/summer activities such as motorcycles, rollerblades, or 4 wheelers. Every spring I reorientate my dogs about walking on leash (I confess that I walk more off leash in the winter, so we all keep warm). I visit different environments, city streets or neighbourhoods, and work up to busier parks. I always start any walk or activity with sits, spins, u turns and back up (to name a few) to increase my dog’s attention to me and allow them to get used to their location, as well as get the sillies out.
In addition to seeing all these new or exciting things, we should also remember that dogs have an amazing sense of smell. With all the melting snow comes lots of new smells to explore. Dogs love to sniff and it can be great enrichment, just make sure they are sniffing in a safe place and not eating anything that will make them sick. All the sensory overload can be a lot to process, especially for young dogs who have not experienced a spring melt yet.
Springtime also marks the beginning of the construction season in our city. The warmer weather coincides with us doing more renovations around the house as well as construction noises in the neighbourhood from roofing, road work, new builds, and more. These noises may be unfamiliar to your dog and may catch them off guard. Be proactive and play different sounds in your house and yard while training your dog. Remember to start at a low volume that your dog is comfortable with, then slowly increase.
All these changes that springtime brings to our senses can be overwhelming for many dogs. Be prepared so you and your dog can enjoy the sunshine together this season.
For more on this topic, check out our Podcast Episode at https://youtu.be/p7GoUwRFoYw