This is an article I wrote for this column in 2009. Since the fall hunting season is right around the corner and it is of utmost importance to condition our dogs, I felt it worthy of repeating.
Remember, repetition through association is how our dogs learn. That process works for people too!
--Well the bird hunting season is almost upon us. In many states it starts around the 1st of September with the dove hunting season. In my state of Colorado, we are fortunate to begin with several species. Dove, blue grouse, mountain sharptail grouse, sage grouse, ptarmigan, chukar and band tailed pigeon seasons all start in September.
Now is the time to get your bird dog ( and you) off the couch and into the fields for some serious conditioning. Many a serious hunter “roads” their dog(s) with a harness system hooked up to their ATV. If you own a bicycle you can have your dog run beside you. Be careful as to not letting the lead get caught up in the spokes. Just plain jogging with your dog will improve their condition if they have been inactive all summer. Too many hunters neglect to do pre-season conditioning. Your dog requires “training camp” just like professional athletes.
So get your dogs into the fields and work them on pen raised birds or wild birds if available. Remember, it can be very hot this time of year. So confine your workouts to early morning or evening hours when the temperature is cooler. Also, have plenty of water available as you want to keep your dog well hydrated.
May you have a terrific hunting season and stop by again next month for another dog training tip.