Duck Dog Tune Up

The Importance of a Well-Trained Dog

Dogs are a crucial part of a duck hunter’s game plan.  Without a dog’s nose, many retrieves would be impossible. With so much reliance on the performance of a good dog, they need to be cared for as much as, if not more than other hunting equipment.  Even seasoned hunting dogs need pre-season practice.  A dog’s senses and hunting instincts will become sharpened as they get more reps in the field.  Think about it, professional athletes with years of experience still need regular practice and conditioning.  Hunter’s may miss shots every now and again, but dogs are never expected to miss a retrieve.  Focused pre-season dog training will make the season run smoothly.

Refining Skills

From year to year, the offseason for waterfowl hunters is at least a few months long.  That is more than enough time for both dog and hunter alike to get rusty in giving and obeying commands.  Start working your dogs at least a month ahead of the season.  For convenience, not all work needs to be done in the water.  Retrieves and commands can be practiced in fields where tall grass can help to hide the object they are retrieving.  The main goal of pre-season dog training is to get them to use their nose after visually marking the approximate location of their target.  For some parts of the country, preseason training can mean contending with the summer heat. Find some shade that both you and your dogs can use to recover between reps.  Training sessions can be done between two and four times per week.  This amount of activity will increase the dog’s physical conditioning and refine their retrieves.