Thank goodness it is staying light a little longer now. Tonight it was light until about 6:10. I was able to make it out and train with several dogs this evening. It’s cold though. The cold makes it tough to keep them in water. It is surprising how much water a dog needs in the winter. If you don’t have heated buckets, here are a couple of ideas of how to deal with the cold. Bring the water buckets inside overnight so they thaw out, then in the morning only put about 3″ in. Then right when you get home from work you can add another 3″ of water to the ice in the bottom, then later in the evening you can add another 3″. This way, they can regularly have plenty of water, yet it is fast for you to give them more water. I have found that if you have to go inside and melt out the ice every time, you just don’t do it as often as they can use it.
As far as evening training during the winter when it gets dark so early, another thing that you can do is to use the dark to challenge the dog to use their nose. Tie a long length of string on a freshly killed bird, or a frozen one and drag it trough the snow, laying down a trail. Try not to drag the bird where you are walking so the scent on the bird’s trail is as unique as possible. Drag the bird out to a spot and plunk it down in the snow so it is hidden just a little bit. Then bring out the dog and put them on the scent trail with the “search!” command. Help them work out the trail and find the bird.