This is the season when the collie should be at his best. From November until May his coat is generally in full bloom, and at this time of the year requires most careful attention if you wish to bench him. Remember plenty of exercise in the open air is the best coat grower in the world, and the collie is no hot house plant. Don't keep him penned up in a warm room before the fire if you expect to keep him healthy and looking his best for the show ring. He thrives on exposure to the sun and cold, provided he has a dry and comfortable place to sleep. The more you leave him out doors in the daytime the better he will be and the heavier will be his coat. We have far too many poor coated dogs in this country on the bench. In this respect our dogs are far inferior to those shown in England, and it is simply because we pay too little attention to this feature and force our dogs usually to lead unnatural and confined lives. An out of door life with plenty of long runs (in the country if possible), will soon put your collie in the pink of condition.
Too much attention cannot be paid to the dog's sleeping quarters. He should have a good thick bed of straw and kept sweet and clean in a dry place free from drafts and the straw should be frequently changed. A little disinfectant may be used with advantage once or twice a week. Damp or dirty straw should not be allowed in his bed under any circumstances. If he comes in from the yard at night wet from snow or rain, dry him off with a rub with good dry straw before you leave him for the night.
Many owners wash their collies altogether too much in cold weather. A collie's coat is of the character to keep moisture from his skin and you will be surprised to find how dry his skin is even when he is covered with snow and has been exposed to rough weather for hours. The under coat is exceedingly dense and prevents almost any moisture from reaching the skin itself. But when you give him a bath his heavy coat is difficult to dry perfectly and his skin being wet the coat prevents its drying and a bad cold is often the result. Refrain especially from washing a young puppy in the cold months. You are inviting distemper if you do. A dry bath with clean shavings slightly moistened or with corn meal, answers all purposes of cleanliness without the risk of the bath tub. Rub in thoroughly right down to the skin, then brush out with a stiff brush.
Groom your collie's coat once a day regularly. A stiff brush with long bristles is the proper tool. Daily grooming will do more to keep your collie looking fit than any amount of coat "dope."
Watch your puppies closely at this season for signs of cold or distemper, which firsts manifests itself by running at the eyes and nose, fever and loss of appetite. At the very first indication of this trouble remove the dog to a dry room slightly warmed either in the kennel building or in the barn and separate from the healthy dogs. There are a hundred remedies on the market, most any of which will cure distemper in its early stages, but when it gets a running start cure is almost hopeless. Therefore take your distemper cases in hand early. When you have separated your patient don't let him out until all danger is past. Keep the room scrupulously clean and disinfect thoroughly and often. Wet feet in young puppies is the most potent cause of the disease and should be guarded against.
The collie's food requires rather less care in winter than in summer. In summer heavy feeding is apt to result in skin affections. In winter, provided the dog has plenty of exercise, he can feed freely, provided the food is of good, nourishing character, and the diet varied slightly from day to day. Puppies should be fed four times a day, a little at a time; grown dogs twice a day, a light meal in the morning and a good heavy meal at night. Some kennels believe in only one meal a day, but I have found in my personal experience that dogs thrive better on two meals.
By using good common sense in the care of your collie he should pass through the winter season in the best of health and condition and be a credit to himself and to you.