Monday, July 29, 2013

The 5 Things You Need to Know for the Upcoming Upland Bird Hunting Season

For decades, the folks at Dogs Unlimited have been hunting upland birds and training their hunting dogs for the season ahead. Season after season, they've built up a routine so their dogs are in top condition and ready for a full season.

1. Conditioning Your Hunting Dog
As Alan O Davison, owner of Dogs Unlimited says, "Conditioning is number one on our list because we think it's the most important aspect of getting ready for the upcoming season. A hunting dog that hasn't been conditioned will find it hard to perform, and it may potentially be hazardous for them, but it's also frustrating for their owner."

Conditioning can take many forms. If time or location is limited it may be as easy as walking your dog through the neighborhood or at a park for longer and longer periods of time to build up stamina. This will greatly help your hunting dog and it will also help get you ready for the opening day as well.
If you have the resources, roading your hunting dog may be the best way to get them in condition. Typically, roading is done from an ATV or off of horseback and will greatly increase your dog's stamina and endurance. Check out this video by Dogs Unlimited for a brief discussion of "roading."

2. Training Your Hunting Dog
Depending upon your breed of choice and the age of your hunting dog, the amount of time you spend training them will vary. Also, your expectation of the level of training will be a determining factor as well. The closer to an absolutely finished bird dog - one that will stop to flush, honor/back another dog on point, hold point until released - will take considerably more time, effort and knowledge. Choose what level of dog training will work best for you and the type of hunting experience you would like to have.

Davison says, "The last time your gun dog was trained for the upcoming season shouldn't have been the last day of last season. Your hunting dog is an athlete and during the off season they should be kept tuned up. The pointing breeds require more commitment during the off season especially the younger dogs who are going through the breaking process. For the older dogs, we like to start tuning them up approximately 2 - 3 months prior to opening day."

3. Your Hunting Dog's Feet
Your dog's feet are often the most overlooked part of any hunting season preparation plans. Once their feet are compromised it may be up to a month before they heal up enough to get back into the field.

Davison explains, "While most dogs don't require any attention to their feet, if your hunting dog does blow their pads or are susceptible to foot sores and tenderness you'll want to address this approximately 1 month prior to the hunting season. There are foot conditioning products available like Tuf-Foot and Blue Foot, or a good set of quality dog boots may do the trick." 

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