There are many advantages to hunting with an older dog. They’ve got tons of experience in the field so it’s hard to catch them by surprise, you know each other well after years hunting together, they tend to be more patient and less judgmental when you miss your target…the list goes on and on. However, you’re older buddy does face some different challenges than their younger counterparts. To help your dog get the most out of his golden years, follow these helpful hints:
Hearing Impairment- Whether it’s from years around gun shots or just old age, many older dogs (and older people if we’re just being honest) will face hearing deterioration. You can still hunt with hearing impaired dogs provided you take some precautions. First don’t hunt near dangers that your dog is at a disadvantage for not recognizing. Roads, for example, are obviously easier to distinguish when you have full use of your ears. Second, take advantage of the vibration mode on your e-collar. If you’ve trained your dog to “come” to the tone command, take the time to switch that over to vibration. Ensure your dog is not relying on any tone commands when he is having trouble hearing. Third, if you’re using a beeper-collar on your dog, make sure the beeper is pointing away from your dog’s ears. You don’t want to risk increasing damage with a poorly placed beeper.
Hip/Joint Discomfort- Admit it. You’re stiffer now than you were in your teens. If you’re not you’re either still too young to relate to this or you’re genetically altered. The same is true of your dog. A t 9 your dog just isn’t going to move the same as when he/she was a spry 2 year old. This makes check-ups and lameness checks even more important. Make sure before every season you have your older dog checked out by a veterinary professional to get the go ahead for being in the field. Swelling and inflammation can cause your older dog discomfort so look into a nutritional supplement to aid in the reduction of inflammation, such as our Canine Athlete Senior Aches formula. Always check with your veterinary professional before starting a new diet or supplement regiment with your dog.
Heat- Older dogs can be more sensitive to heat, and this is important to consider for a long day on the hunt. Take water breaks more often and ensure that there are plenty of opportunities for your older dog to break. Make sure you know the signs of heat exhaustion as they may come on faster in older dogs, and remember that your dog is operating at a higher internal temperature than you. If you’re hot, he’s hotter.
Endurance- You’re not as good as you once were, and neither is your dog. Through no fault of her own, your favorite hunting partner may not be able to go the distance the same way she used to. Don’t try to push your pup too hard. If your hunting partner is in good shape trust when they’re tired and don’t push too hard. There’s no need to ruin the rest of your dog’s season for a couple extra hours.
Old Dogs Can Learn New Tricks- Is there a command or direction you would like to see your older dog perform, but don’t think it’s worth trying to teach your older dog? There’s no reason to end their field time because you think a younger dog may be more pliable to adjust to new commands. Despite the old adage, old dogs are more than capable of learning new tricks. It just requires a bit more patience. Like children tend to pick up new concepts at a quicker rate than adults, pups may be more pliable than their older counterparts but older dogs can learn. Just start back from the beginning and teach your older dog just as you would a new one.
These quick tips will help you and your dog enjoy more years in the field together. Happy Hunting!