With year-round training comes the task of training in hot weather. SportDOG® ProStaff members and professional trainers Lynne Frady, of Super Dog Obedience & Gun Dog Training, and Billy Mosley, of Avery Creek Retrievers, offer their best tips for dog owners to keep hunting dogs safe and cool during hot summer workouts.
TACTIC 1) Train Early or Late
One of the easiest ways to beat the heat is to train early mornings or late evenings when the sun and temperatures are at their lowest points.
“Don’t train in the middle of the day. Another way is to try and do as much water work as possible. It’s a little easier on them swimming than doing long land retrieves.”
TACTIC 2) Utilize Water Drills
Both Avery and Frady agree with using water work, but state to proceed with caution.
“You have to be as careful in water as you do on land when it’s hot. If you’re working a dog in a pond, they can easily overheat just like they would on land. Unless it’s a deep and vast body of water, the water won’t be that much cooler than the air.”
“You don’t want to do 300-yard swims across a stagnant pond. Throw retrieves 80 to 90 yards, up on the other bank, so they get about a 50- to 60-yard swim and are getting out of the water and swim back. You shouldn’t do marathon sessions of just swimming.”
TACTIC 3) Increase Water Intake
Hot temperatures will create the need for more frequent watering. This is easy to achieve during water work, but owners will need to provide much more water for dogs training in the field.
“Dogs can get really dehydrated, take plenty of water with you. I’ll even take some Gatorade with me to get their electrolytes back up.”
TACTIC 4) Keep It Short and Shaded
SportDOG pros suggest training in shorter sessions and to keep the dogs in the shade as much as possible.
“Try to keep them in the shade when you are working them, let them cool back down and go back and do something else. You don’t have to go out and run them for 30 minutes. Do a 5-minute session and let them rest or, as I call it, ‘let their tongue roll back up.’”
TACTIC 5) Go Indoors
Most people think of hunting dog training as outside work – marking, scent work, retrieving, and long runs. But, much of what is learned in the fields begins with basic obedience. These elementary lessons can be learned or sharpened while indoors.
“Any kind of work you can do indoors, such as obedience and whistle work, try to do as much of that indoors as possible. I do a lot of my training in my living room. You can teach just about all the concepts of retrieving training indoors.”
Monitoring a dog for signs of overheating is critical to maintaining a dog’s health and safety. Both Frady and Mosley suggest taking the dog to the vet after cooling down if they have experienced any symptoms of overheating.