Dog Training

Why Is Off-Season Training Important For Your Hunting Dog?

in Hunting Dog Training

While most hunters are religious about taking care of our guns, making sure our boots are ready for the season and taking care of our hunting dog’s basic needs, many of us don’t think a lot about training our hunting dog during those hot, lazy days during the summer. I’m here to tell you that’s a mistake. Why? Well, let’s look at it…

We take a dog into the field that has laid around in the backyard or the kennel for several months with little or no regular exercise or physical conditioning, who’s been eating his fool head off and gotten somewhat fat and a lot lazy and then expect him to perform as well as he did at the end of last season. Fellas – it’s not going to happen! Such expectations are not fair for the dog and they aren’t fair to you. You will be disappointed in the dog’s performance and your dog’s feeling will be hurt by your somewhat surly attitude on the trip home.

No athlete can perform his best if he isn’t working out on a regular basis. That’s why the Olympic hopefuls train almost year round and why there are “Spring Training Camps” for football players, right? Well folks, your hunting dog is an athlete. Lots of hunters fail to realize exactly how strenuous hunting is for their dogs. Yes, we’re spending a lot of time out in the field, but we’re not the ones literally running around for four to six hours a day, slamming a bowl of kibble, sleeping a few hours and then being asked to do it all again the next day. For most dogs, their main goal in life (well, besides eating) is to please their handler, but to do so they must be properly conditioned. And you can’t wait until a week or two before bird season starts to help them get that way.

Even though he enjoys it, hunting is hard work for your dog. It is an activity where his heart and lungs need to be in tip-top condition. His muscles need to be toned and the pads of his feet need to be tough to withstand the hours of running over rough ground that he often encounters. Laying around during the late spring and summer is not going to go a long way towards achieving any of these health goals for your dog.

If he is in the air-conditioning all of the time, things become even worse. The temperature at the first of the season can be brutal for a dog that’s been in climate control for the past few months. Whether it is hotter or colder than what he is used to, the dog will suffer. I am NOT saying that the dog should be left outside all summer with a shade tree and a pail of water or advocating working your dog in the heat of the day – what I am saying is that the dog needs to be worked out, even during the summer and that a sensible training program during the summer will keep your dog from having to be carried back to the truck half way through the first day of the season.

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