With dove season on the horizon, many of us begin working with our dogs to get them in shape. Here are a few tips to help get them ready.
Dove season, especially in the South, can be one of the hottest times of the year. But it’s also an occasion when friends and family gather to shoot some birds, watch college football and eat barbeque; things that we at Gunner Kennels don’t like to miss. And let’s not forget that many times our dogs are in attendance for these gatherings and will need a little more time to prepare than just, say, mom’s potato salad recipe. With temperatures habitually remaining in the mid-90s during the latter part of July and throughout August, you’ll want to be smart about how and when you implement training and exercise.
Think early morning, when the ground is still wet with dew and the mercury hovers at a reasonable level. True, many of us are bound by other obligations like jobs and kids during the day and only have the evenings and weekends to spend working with our dogs. If this is the case, utilize local lakes, ponds and rivers where you can send your dog on long retrieves as an alternative to just running him in a field. Remember, dogs don’t perspire like humans but cool themselves by panting and releasing heat through their pads. Water will compensate for the lack of coolness in the summer air.
Monitor their food intake by watching their physical shape. If your dog is not burning a lot of calories, keep their diet at a minimum. Like people, if they eat too much with little exercise, they’re going to get fat.
Keep dove or quail wings in the freezer that you can put out to simulate finding dead birds. This is especially helpful for puppies and younger dogs that haven’t spent a lot of time afield. Although natural instincts will presumably kick in when it’s time to find birds, a well-prepared dog is a smarter dog.
Really and truly, these exercises should be enjoyed by both you and your dog. Of course it wouldn’t hurt to keep your dog (and yourself) in shape year round so he doesn’t have such a steep hill to climb right before the hunting seasons begin. And just like we enjoy afternoon naps after a dove hunt and big meal, make sure your dog’s Gunner Kennel is close by so they can relax and recharge too.
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