Every summer day is indeed a dog day, according to professional trainers who count on top performance from their four-legged students.
And that means keeping every dog in shape — year around — even in the heat of summer. Off-season workouts will maintain tough paw pads, loose joints, proper weight, and maintain endurance and stamina.
SportDOG ProStaff members and professional trainers Lynne Frady, of Super Dog Obedience and Gun Dog Training, and Billy Mosley, of Avery Creek Retrievers, offer the following tips for dog owners to keep hunting dogs safe and cool during hot summer workouts.
One of the simplest ways to beat the heat is to train in the early mornings or late evenings when the sun and temperatures are at their lowest points.
“Don’t train in the middle of the day and do as much water work as possible. It’s a little easier on them swimming than doing long land retrieves,” said Mosley.
“You have to be as careful in water as you do on land when it’s hot,” said Frady. A dog can easily overheat in a pond, just as they would on land.
“Unless it’s a deep and vast body of water, the water won’t be that much cooler than the air,” said Frady.
Mosley says the key is to get them in and out of the water frequently.
“You don’t want to do 300-yard swims across a stagnant pond,” said Mosley.
Mosley suggests throwing retrieves up on the other bank, so dogs can swim and get out of the water and swim back. Don’t do marathon sessions of just swimming.
High summer temperatures will create the need for more frequent watering. This is easy to achieve during water work, but owners will need to provide much more water for dogs training in the field.
“Dogs can get really dehydrated,” said Frady. “Take plenty of water with you. I’ll even take some Gatorade with me to get their electrolytes back up,” she said.
Keep dogs in the shade while working them to let them cool down.
“You don’t have to go out and run them for 30 minutes. Do a 5-minute section and let them rest, or, as I call it, let their tongue roll back up,” said Frady.
Most people think of hunting dog training as outside work — marking, scent work, retrieving, and long runs. But, much of what is learned in the fields begins with basic obedience, which can be learned or sharpened while indoors.
“I do a lot of my training in my living room. You can teach just about all the concepts of retrieving training indoors,” she said.
Both pro’s agree that watching for over heating is critical.
“If they get long in the tongue, you need to slow down or stop,” said Frady. “Make sure they have plenty of water and bring lots of water along if you aren’t doing water work.”
Watch for signs of heat stroke which include losing color in the gums, walking on wobbly-legs or becoming disoriented, said Mosley.
“Everybody that trains dogs should keep a thermometer handy to check the dog’s temperature too.”
If a dog does overheat, both pro’s say to douse the dog’s entire underside with rubbing alcohol, as it evaporates quickly and helps dissipate the heat.
“Lay them on their side and pour it on their chest and belly so it will come in contact with their skin,” said Frady.
“It will pull their body temperature down quickly. I’ve seen many dogs’ lives saved with this. A couple of bottles of rubbing alcohol aren’t hard to carry.”
After cooling down the dog, both Frady and Mosley suggest visiting the vet to be sure the dog is healthy and safe.
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