For many, opening day is right around the corner. While this is the day many of us have been waiting on for months, it’s important to not get so caught up in the anticipation that you forget to make sure you and your pup are fully prepared for your first day in the field. The following check-list should help make sure you and your hunting partner are ready for the field:
Fully trained- As season approaches, it can be very tempted to rush a dog through training or to take a dog to the field that’s not quite ready yet. While this may offer more instant gratification, it will cause problems in the long run. Introducing your dog to the field before he or she is ready could not only cause immediate harm that day (losing your dog, maiming a beautiful down bird or losing a bird altogether) but could reinforce some of your dog’s bad habits by getting the reward of a hunting trip. SportDOG Brand® ProStaffer Steve Borecky offers great examples of great dogs that got turned out too early. Don’t be that guy. You don’t have to have the perfect pup to get in the field. All dogs make mistakes, but make sure the mistakes are rare and your dog has a clear understanding of your expectations. This will make for a much better day and hunting career.
Healthy Check-Up- Your dog needs a thorough check-up before getting set lose in the field. This includes any applicable shots, hip/joint inspection getting all the right paper work for him to travel if you will be doing that. Especially if you’re dog has shown any signs of illness. Your hunting buddies will not be happy if your dog passes on any kind of infection that could disrupt their season, and some lodges/state wildlife departments will not let you hunt if you don’t have the paperwork to prove your pup is healthy
Conditioned- If you haven’t been getting your dog out quite as much over the summer, it’s high time to start. Turning her out in the field after spending a lazy summer on the couch is the sure way to make sure you’ll be going home early. If your dog is going to put in the miles on opening day, he/she needs to be putting them in right now. If you’ve been letting your hunting partner slack this summer, start with small walks and work your way up to a good few miles by opening day. This will make sure you’re both up for the challenge. Also, consider adding any of our Canine Athlete formulas to help improve your pups performance.
Geared Up- Nothing can bring down a good day in the field reaching into your gear bag and finding you’ve overlooked a vital piece of your pups gear. If you haven’t inventoried your gear yet, make sure to do so now. If you are missing anything, you want to make sure you have time to get to the store or order online. This time of year, people will be rushing to their local and online retailers to stock up on replacements, so shopping early will help ensure what you need is in stock. Remember to check our website, www.sportdog.com for any replacement parts or accessories you might need, or any of our fine retailers.
That’s our short but important checklist for opening day. What would you add to this list?