It will be hunting season soon and hopefully your dog is ready for opening day.  The following are a few tips for making sure your dog is ready for hunting season.  Thank you for making this possible.

Hunting in Oklahoma

  • It is important that your dog isn’t overweight and short of stamina and has been getting the exercise he needs to be in shape for opening day.  If he is overweight he won’t be able to perform to the best of his ability.  He could hurt himself by injuring his joints or getting heat exhaustion.  If your dog is overweight he is more likely to become ill and if he is overweight and short of stamina there is a possibility he could drown if he is in water.  All of these are possibilities if your dog isn’t in tip-top shape for the season.
  • If your dog is overweight, you need to get him in shape.  It takes 6 to 8 weeks of regular exercise to get a dog in shape so don’t think you can start working on it a week or two before hunting season opens.  Dogs are a lot like humans…they should start out slowly with moderate exercise and progress to more strenuous exercise as they get used to it.  Make sure your dog drinks water during his exercise regimen.  If your dog doesn’t want to drink, don’t think it is because he doesn’t need water.  Some dogs have to be lured to a water bowl and other dogs need to have water squirted in their mouth to get them to drink.  It is very important that your dog is hydrated.  It is also more beneficial to your dog to do his conditioning during the cooler part of the day.
  • Your dog should be in good health before you take him on a hunting trip.  It would be a good idea to take a visit to the vet and have your hunting partner checked out.  His immunizations should be up-to-date and make sure your vet does a visual gait analysis and joint inspection along with an overall doggy physical.  You should also get your dog’s records while you are at the vet.  If you are going to do any traveling with your dog during the season, your dog’s records might come in handy.
  • Check your dog’s feet and make sure his nails are trimmed.  Trimmed nails don’t break as easily as nails that are long and untrimmed.  If your dog has sore feet, he won’t be comfortable, and he won’t give you his best performance.
  • You should have training sessions with your dog before you take him on a hunting trip to refresh his obedience skills and bird work.  Again, dogs are a lot like humans.  If we haven’t done something for awhile we will probably be a little rusty.  Same thing with dogs.  You should expect your dog to be a little rusty since he hasn’t used his hunting skills since last hunting season.  Plan for more than one or two sessions to get all the training done.  For best results, the training sessions should be spread out over a period of time and the sessions should be kept short.
  • Your dog’s hunting gear should be checked to make sure it is working properly.  Your dog’s E-Collar batteries should be checked to make sure they are still good.  As we are all aware of, technology is always improving and maybe it is time to upgrade your dog’s hunting gear or get newer equipment.
  • Before taking your dog hunting, you should acclimate him to the surroundings he is going to be in.  If he is going to be hunting out of a duck blind, don’t wait until opening day to introduce him to the duck blind.  It’s a good idea to take him into the field a few weeks before opening day.  Let him get familiar with the duck blind, or the dog stand or the ladder if he is going to have to climb up and down one.  If you are going to be hunting out of a pit take your dog to the pit a few times before opening day.  Fire a few shots from the pit while you are throwing some training dummies.  Getting him acclimated to the surroundings may help prevent a gun shyness problem with your dog later on.
Hunting Dog

This is Scout! He is a Labrador Retriever and is gun shy. Even so, he is still a great dog!

These are just a few suggestions for getting your dog ready for hunting season.  Even though we have a trained hunting dog, he isn’t an active hunting dog.  When he was a puppy he was in the blind with another adult hunting dog.  When the guys shot their guns the adult dog turned and bit our dog, Scout, on the nose.  From that day forward, he has been gun shy.  He also has a scar on his nose from when he was bit!  My son tried to take him hunting last season to see how he would react, but the first time he shot his gun, Scout ran and hid under the truck.

Just a reminder…be careful with your dog and be smart.  Take good care of him and he will make a great hunting partner!


Filed under: Hunting Dogs

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