Monday, December 16, 2013

Too cool for school

Canada is a wonderful country to live in. However, I will not pretend that it doesn't have unfavourable points. Winter is long and cold. When you are training dogs that's a bit of a problem. For one it is obviously less pleasant and adds to set up and tear down time. You can't train outdoors all year round because of the snow and the cold which necessitates finding indoor locations. Indoor locations usually mean horse arenas which are well lit and out of the snow and wind, but are still significantly cold. The cold. The cold is the big problem when you are working with greyhounds.

The temperatures have recently dipped to 20C below. That is really getting to be bitterly cold. The dogs have to wear something when they are taken outside for more than a few minutes which includes training "indoors" at the horse arenas. Even so I have been battling Kili's huge wuss factor. She does not seem to grasp the concept that if she runs she will be warm. When training in the cold she is pokey, reluctant, and generally miserable. I cannot engage her in tug or personal play. I cannot engage her in a game of "chase the Momma". She simply refuses to do more than trot. This despite the fact that she wears sweater when training and generally I layer a coat over top if she has to be in her crate between exercises.

Here she is this weekend at agility class, refusing to move faster than a trot and avoiding jumps. Notice that I was able to warm up enough that I was only wearing a sweater. I shed my coat 5 minutes in. Kili on the other hand refused to engage and get moving enough to get as toasty as me.

I am looking into this situation. I cannot control the weather. It has definitely been a cold start to winter; we typically do not see these temperatures until January or February. I went out and bought a rubber hot water bottle that I intend to put in her crate. I am also looking into different coat options and trying to decide what I will buy. If anyone has any suggestions for good warm coats please let me know!

What I have bought so far is a therapeutic dog rug from Back On Track. It uses ceramic in the fabric to reflect the dog's own body heat back to itself. It is not meant so much for really keeping the dog warm but to help warm up muscles and joints.

Kili will be using it as a warm up coat before and after agility to help prevent injury. But I am most excited to see if it helps Summit's increasing arthritis. This year has been quite rough and I see him limping on his left front leg on a regular basis. This is the leg he has always had some trouble with, but this year has been bad enough that I have been giving him an almost daily dose of Deramaxx. He has also been exhibiting worsening odd behaviour on hikes, though I am unsure right now if it is cold related or pain related. He will just stop and refuse to come when I call him. He will either try to turn around and walk back the way we came, or as he did today, if we are walking towards houses and then try to turn around to head home he will refuse to move and will sometimes actually walk right up to people's doors. Today he allowed me to walk until I was out of sight, ignoring my calls. I finally had to walk back to retrieve him. Once I took him by the collar and moved a few steps in the direction I wanted to go he immediately started trotting along no problem. I'm a little baffled by the behaviour but if pain control and even warmer clothing don't help I will be forced to accept that his age is catching up to him and start leaving him at home when we hike in the winter. I am hoping the coat will help though. I am also considering getting the leg wraps for his front legs. If anyone has experience with Back on Track products (for dogs, horses, or people!) please share! I am very interested to see if these will make a significant difference. I WAS disappointed that they discontinued the greyhound style of coat and I had to buy just the regular dog one. As you can see it fits Summit very nicely but is a touch big on Kili. I am undecided so far if I will buy a second coat in a smaller size for her or just have her wear the big one.

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