Conditioning Upland Dogs
Ten years ago over 100 gundogs died opening pheasant hunting weekend in South Dakota due to the extreme heat and/or lack of conditioning of the dogs. Going home from a pheasant hunting trip without your best friend is unimaginable for most and horrific for anyone to think about.
Prepare that gundog now with regular exercise. An overfed, inactive gundog is bound to disappoint on opening day.
Chris Chandler, a German Shorthaired Pointer breeder and trainer from Kansas, suggests establishing an exercise routine early in the morning or late in the evening during the heat of the summer.
“Do some conditioning when you can’t do bird work in the field,” Chandler said.
Taking the dogs swimming is one of Chandler’s favorite workouts since the dogs will enjoy a rigorous workout and stay cool at the same time. Good upland dogs will work hard to please you, Chandler warned, so it’s important to keep them hydrated and cool during workouts as well.
Simply walking or jogging your gundog for 20-30 minutes routinely during the cool parts of the day will pay off.
“Some guys don’t condition their dogs,” Chandler explained. “[Exercising your dog] will pay big dividends; it won’t be lagging behind or dragging on hunting days.”