Hunting season is approaching quick and before it gets here, you want to be sure you are ready. It’s not only important that you make sure your hunting gear is ready and well prepared for the season, but your dog, too. Take the time to work with and prepare your dog during off season to make sure he is ready for this year’s hunting season with these five tips.
1. Check your dog’s health
A healthy dog makes a better hunting dog. Make sure your dog is up-to-date on all his vaccinations and gets a full check-up before hunting season. It’s hard on your dog’s body to go from long stints of being a lap dog to needing to be an energetic hunting dog for a couple of months. Dogs that are overweight or lack stamina will find it hard to muster the desire to hunt. Pushing them when unfit can lead to problems with their muscles and joints as well as provoke illness. You should prepare him all year by keeping him well exercised and on a healthy diet, no matter what season you’re in.
2. Practice Peace and Quiet
Training your dog to obey commands is critical for a good hunting dog. During off season, your dog may get used to running and playing at will and can easily lose site of needing to settle down quickly and become a quiet, peaceful dog so that they can be attentive to your needs and commands. Practice with these methods during off season.
- Have him sit next to you, quietly, for short periods of time.
- Reinforce the word you use to settle him down by using it often, during off season, such as “settle,” or “whoa,” or “Sit,” or whatever word you choose.
- Allow your dog to run ahead and play, then command him to return back to you and quietly sit next to you. Do this frequently.
3. Train-Up Using Safety Gear
During hunting season, your dog will be using different types of gear that he will need to be familiar with, respond to and comply with. One of the most important pieces of gear is his collar. During off season, use the best training collar to teach your dog how to heel and stay with you and where you want him to be at all times. There are no training choker chains, collars and leashes available to work on his obedience. Other training gear includes dog whistles, heeling sticks, training and breaking scents and more. Get your dog ready early by working year-round, to be obedient, controlled and accustomed to everything he’ll be exposed to during hunting season.
Having an obedient dog can mean the difference between a safe and healthy dog during and following hunting season, free of injuries and stress-free as well as a successful hunting season. Or it can mean dealing with an injured hunting dog and one who ends up stressed out and unable to be a good partner for you. Work with you dog on his obedience often during off season. Use the commands you will want him to follow when you are on a hunting trip. “Come,” “Heel,” “Sit,” “Stay,” “No,” “Kennel,” “Get Birdy.” Whatever you need to have your dog follow, set up the scenes for him and practice during your time off so he is ready to hunt, come the start of hunting season.
Uncontrolled, disobedient dogs in a duck blind or otherwise, are a nuisance. No one likes to be around unruly hunting dogs and they can actually ruin the hunt. Make sure your dog is controlled by practicing handling during the off season months. Set up drills for your dog to practice his retrieves and return to you at your command. Practice multiple retrieves, cone drills and more. You want him to be obedient while under your handling and extremely responsive, and practice is the only way to get him to handle the way you need him to.
There’s an excitement for all hunters when hunting season starts to roll around. One thing that can make hunting season start off on the wrong foot from the get-go, is to have a hunting dog that is not prepared to be at your side. The more time you spend with him during off season, preparing him to be your hunting buddy, the chances of having an exciting and successful season are already in the bag.