1 Oct | Posted by Mark
Over the past 20 years I’ve come to expect and plan for my personal hunting dogs to be properly trained and conditioned prior to the start of hunting season. I get the opportunity to hunt in 6 different states with various upland species, habitats and extreme swings in weather conditions. If my dogs aren’t in shape they won’t make it through the opening hunt, let alone the rest of the season. I want them with me, not spending time at home mending or worse yet at the vet’s office blowing through wads of cash.
From the first day our puppies are whelped or a dog arrives at the kennel, our priority is their health and well-being. A well-rested and nutritionally fed dog has the foundation necessary to commence a dedicated training regime. We feed all of our dogs’ premium dog food: Purina Pro Plan Sport Performance dog food once a day. We also give them a GNC Ultra Mega Multivitamin and Nutramax Cosequin MS joint health medication daily.
With that said, our hunting dogs’ conditioning season doesn’t really end, it just slows down in the spring so we can heal up and plan for our summer kick off in July. My personal dogs usually come home with me for several months and we take daily walks for an hour to hour and a half, enter some local NSTRA competitions for fun, but generally just let them be a dog.
In July we head back to the kennel, but before engaging in any arduous aerobic conditioning or field work program, we give our dogs a week to adjust to the environment. This allows Rob and Kristin to assess their basic condition, obedience levels, bird work skills, and general kennel manners. From there we set out a plan with each dog for the allocated time they’ll be with us in the kennel.
We typically start with routine obedience and field work for our started and finished dogs, before progressing to a more arduous roading program. We sharpen their hunting skills over the next 3 months to make sure that before our real season begins they are in strong mental condition as well as physical shape. We strive for focused hunters, with proficient field handling skills, that are toughened up ready to go.
When the temperatures cool in September, we really start tuning up their field work, incorporating new environments and obstacles, larger fields and wild birds. In October, it’s off to the prairies for grouse and pheasants and our real season begins in earnest.