It is recommended that you work with your dog regularly in the off-season to make sure necessary hunting skills are not forgotten. However, it is often the case that summer becomes relaxed as far as training is concerned. Family vacations, sports, and outdoor events push aside all else.
But for the most dedicated hunter, the summer signals a countdown. A countdown until opening day.
For those of you who are already counting, here a few summer-training tips for you and your four-legged hunting companion.
Review: Take some time to review the basic obedience skills. The off-season can foster laziness in all of us, but you don’t want to be surprised by it in the field. Remind the dog of your basic commands and reaffirm your position as the boss.
Roading: Roading refers to a method of road exercise where your dog is tied to a vehicle, ATV, bike, or you on skates. The dog runs slightly ahead of you, even pulling you a bit (if you’re on a bike or skates). Allowing your dog to run a long distance, about 30-45 minutes at a time, conditions and tones all areas of your dog’s body. Feet toughen up and the muscles, heart, and lungs are strengthened. Your dog should wear a padded roading harness with a lead about six feet long. Roading is best accomplished on a quiet road without much traffic.
Drills: Several times a week, a few minutes at a time, practice any of the training drills that will be necessary skills for the hunt. Assuming your dog has already been trained in these areas, this will be a review of those skills. Use consistent commands and behavior to avoid any confusion. If you are roading your dog, you may want to focus on the drills on non-roading days so as not to exhaust the dog.
Exploration: Enjoy some time outside with your dog at a field or park. You can use this opportunity to work some drills with distractions, or you can simply allow the dog to explore with his nose. A hunting dog has been trained to listen, smell, and be aware of behaviors surrounding him. These kinds of outings will remind the dog of hunting with you and excite him for the actual hunt.