It was during a lull in the action at a recent Twins game that local hunter Brian Corrigan and I got into a conversation about prepping for the fall. One of his major concerns was getting his dog Megan back into hunting form.Â
Corrigan referred to these last weeks of August as the preseason for dog training. Like professional athletes, he believed hunting dogs needed extensive work in order to get back into shape.
He went on to explain that getting into shape meant both mental and physical conditioning for dogs. He worked on both during each training session.
For the mental conditioning, Corrigan believed dogs needed to have clear expectations and obedience to five different commands. These included sit, stay, come, down and heal. He went on to say that stay and come were probably the two most important commands.
Because dogs canâ€™t sweat and cool their bodies down by panting and laying on their bellies, Corrigan was very fussy about the timing and duration of physical workouts. He felt that on hot days, early morning exercise was clearly the best.
He would often ride his bicycle a couple of miles with Megan running alongside. Swimming is also a great conditioning exercise he recommends.
When asked about when to start training young dogs, he felt it was best to get started right away. He did add that dogs arenâ€™t fully mature until two years old, so hunters had to be cautioned about early expectations. Some young dogs can function in the field at less than a year while others may not.Â
Corrigan heavily stressed the importance of getting pheasant dogs to a game farm before taking them on a hunting trip in the field. Game farms provide guaranteed birds and are ideal for working the final kinks out of the system before the regular season begins.
When asked about electronic collars, Corrigan felt they were absolutely a must. Although he cautioned against overuse, he stated that there were times when they were extremely beneficial in correcting negative behavior.
As we get closer to September and the opening of the first hunting seasons, having our four-legged hunting companions ready to go is probably a pretty good plan. Â
This is the opinion of outdoors columnist Jerry Carlson. Contact him at email@example.com.