At Longmeadow Game Resort, we are getting excited as the weather starts to cool off. All the hunters are readying their gear and themselves for the coming hunting seasons. Man’s best friend has been waiting for this fall too, and there are some great things to keep in mind as you get your dog ready for hunting season.
Even the best hunting dogs can use some refreshers. Your pet may have gained some weight in the off-season or may have gotten lazy about listening to commands. A gentle yet firm training routine can get both of you ready for this season’s adventures.
Exercise and exercise in the elements are keys to getting your dog ready for hunting season. Your faithful friend will be asked to wait with you for long periods in freezing conditions. Your pet will need to navigate land and water. So, take your dog walking, running, and swimming. Get him out in the open too. Check into the AKC’s Hunting Tests to find field experience near your home.
Make sure your dog is ready for the tests by running him through hunting drills. Make sure your dog gets used to shots again. Don’t shoot just once but shoot multiple times and from multiple shooters if possible. Your dog will need to be steady in the hunt even as other hunters are hunting. Once in this situation, you can throw out bumpers every few shots, but make sure your dog only retrieves when he’s commanded.
Review handling with your dog. A proven method is using a baseball diamond. Stand at home base and put your dog on the pitcher’s mound. Using hand signals or whistles, train your dog to go after the target you want him to retrieve first. This is important as you’ll want him to retrieve wounded birds first. Make sure he is listening to you and brings the target right back to you.
Speaking of targets, the best targets for bird dogs are birds. (Just make sure to check local and state regulations about using game birds on public and private properties.) Live or frozen birds or even waterfowl wings taped to bumpers can be invaluable to training your dog. Get him used to the sights and smells, while limiting the possible overexcitement in the actual hunt.
To get your dog ready for hunting season, teach him good lining techniques. The straighter a line he runs to and from a target the better for you and him. Keep him focused and keep him from meandering. Use fences or buildings–natural straight lines–to aid you with bumper or bird retrieval.
Keep in mind that training your bird dog is not something that will happen overnight. A new pup will take 4-6 weeks to learn retrieval and waiting skills. Some hunters have great success with e-collars, but they wouldn’t be allowed in AKC hunting tests. Work with experienced bird dog trainers or experienced bird dogs to bring pups up to speed. Build a good relationship with your dog, and he’ll love your hunting trips just as much as you do.Sources: sportdog.com, ducks.org, lagrandeobserver.com, fieldandstream.com
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