While hunting season is over, keeping your pup ready for the next season is still important. If you take too much time off when it isn’t hunting season, your dog might get a bit out of shape. Beyond that, they may forget things they’ve learned if they aren’t practicing and keeping up their skills. It is key to keep your dog training in the off season at least a few times a week. There are many different things to do to make sure your pup stays on their A-game and is ready for the next season. Here are some tips on how to keep your dog sharp!
Running is one of the easiest and best ways to keep your dog in shape. You can also do this in many different ways and basically anywhere! If you yourself are also a runner, bring your dog along for one of your runs. Be sure to know your dog’s limits so you don’t overwork them. You can also start by throwing and playing fetch with your dog if you don’t think they’re ready for full on runs. Find some open space and throw things to your dog while they run back and forth. This will keep them active and you can build up to more intense workouts.
If your dog loves to swim, swimming is another way they can get a good workout in. This is good for retrievers, plus they are usually pretty natural swimmers. While it may be hard to find somewhere for your pup to swim in the cold months, when it warms up in your area, try any lakes near you. Your pup will build up stamina and get a great workout.
You don’t only have to work your pup’s physical abilities in the off season. You can also work on training that keeps their mind sharp. Work on basic commands, like sit, stay, heel, etc. Try incorporating whistles, as this is something often used with hunting dogs. As you repeat and your dog gets smarter and better with the commands, try harder things. Even if you don’t use them out in the field, your dog will be sharpening their mind. You are working on solidifying that you are in charge and the leader!
If you can, try to keep exposing your dog to the actual aspects they experience when hunting. While all these other tips are great, nothing is better practice than then real thing. If you are a bird hunter, expose them to real birds so they are familiar. Shoot your gun or play a similar sound so your pup is used to it. You can even set up obstacles when you’re training so they’re also getting the real deal. This will help them stay on their game in the off season.
It easy to think everything involved in training should include getting out doing something. However, just having your dog sit quietly with you is also a very important aspect. You need your dog to be able to sit still and be close to you until you command them to do otherwise. Building trust and just generally working on your dog being extremely well trained is a big part of this.
Training in the off season can be tough and sometimes it can be hard to motivate yourself to do it. But remember this is all time well spent with your pup and it will pay off! Enjoy!