Time to Stretch
By Ryan Eder
This is always an interesting time of year for dog training. Depending on where you live, your waterfowl season is either over or near over, and many of us are limited to preserve upland hunting. In just a few short months, the heavy spring and summer training load will resume as we look forward to test and trial season. So let’s take a look on on some elements of training during this bridge time – from the end of hunting season to the serious training season – that can help our dogs prepare for the heavy training load that is soon to come.
The first thing to work on in preparation for the upcoming training season is our dog’s physical conditioning. Coming off of hunting season, our dogs should be in great shape, right? I would agree; but if your waterfowl season ends in December or January and you wait until March or April to pick things back up, your dog could be at risk of physical injury and of course be in lesser cardiovascular shape.
If he’s hunting upland birds through April, then great, he is out running! If not, take him for long walks, runs, or hikes. I personally like to ride the ATV through my property (I probably need to rethink this – I’m the one who probably needs the exercise the most!) and let the dogs follow. For the exclusive waterfowl dog, there is a big difference between sitting in a blind and making primarily shorter retrieves versus picking up multiple marks – some of which will be at long distances – in training.