Many hunters condition their hunting dogs year round. Along with proper nutrition, annual vaccinations and de-worming, this is the best option for keeping your hunting companion healthy and ensuring endurance. The following 10 steps can be reviewed as reminders for their program. Whether they be deer, fowl or fox.
For hunters who choose to minimally train or condition their hunting companions, it is now time to start the conditioning process. Following these 10 steps can help with stamina and endurance as well as improve the overall health and condition of your dogs.
1. Annual exam by a Veterinarian to review overall health, body condition.
2. Updates to vaccination and de-wormer protocol, preventatives for ticks and other parasites may be chosen at this time as well.
3. Proper Identification; microchipping is fool proof, collars and tags are a must with phone numbers and names in case lost. Many hunters now use radio collars with GPS and can see the dogs position as well as other hunters with the GPS style hand held FRS radios.
4. Nail Trims are recommended prior to increasing training.
5. Nutritional consult; considerations made for the current body score, lifestage (age), and any changes to the lifestyle ( going from a more sedentary to a working athletic stage)
6. Exercise plan; create an incremental exercise plan where the level and duration of exercise for the hunting companion is planned and increased at a rate that improves the endurance and stamina while decreasing injuries. This should be used with an abilities training plan as well.
7. Have an abilities training plan, you have a hunting style dog, but have you actually trained and rewarded for the behavior you want?
8. Create a packing list for the dogs, include; leashes (short & long), collars and vests hopefully blaze orange. Staples, including water and feed bowls as well as treats and rewards. Small first aid kit meant for pets with some cleansers & bandaging supplies.
9. Ensure landowners on and around your hunting grounds know how many and information about your dogs. This does many things, it lets them know you respect them and want them aware, as well as offers the opportunity to communicate about other livestock or animals in the area that may need consideration during the season.
10. Housing and bedding plan. Year round at home and on the road or at the camp. This includes blinds as well, is there enough space to stand and circle. Safe from the elements and other animals with adequate exercise space when not working.
Be safe, have fun and follow the rules. To some there is nothing like the sound of a good dog booing in the bush after game, or the joy of a well trained dog retrieving your quarry!