Since I moved into a house with a yard that isn’t fenced it has been a challenge to effectively condition my dogs so that they are ready for the hunting season.
Besides daily walks I added in a couple of other activities to get the dogs in shape.
I bought a sled dog harness @ http://www.kondosoutdoors.com/dog-gear in Ely, MN a couple of summers ago and I use it to run the dogs while I am riding my bike. I am able to do this in a park behind our house. This enables me to run the dogs at a faster speed than they will usually run on there own. I use this to work on their aerobic fitness as well as getting them to stretch out their strides.
We will do a warmup session and then mix speed work with recovery work.
This year I have added Underwater Treadmill workouts to our routine. I like using these workouts because they can provide a good aerobic workout without the pounding that can accompany regular roadwork. The treadmill is also useful for getting in workouts when the weather doesn’t lend itself to outdoor training. I have been going to Animal Emergency and Referral Center of Minnesota in Oakdale. http://aercmn.com/
I still am a firm believer in the classic roading to polish up a dog’s fitness. In the years where I haven’t been able to consistently work the dogs on my own I have taken them to a trainer where he will road and / or free run the dogs. An extra advantage to having the trainer do these workouts is that I can also have them layer on any specific skill training that the dogs or I might need some work on. Tina is heading to http://northwoodsbirddogs.com/ on Monday for a couple weeks of roading and free running.
Why do I go to all of this trouble to get my dogs into shape before the seasons even start? Because I know that weather / work / family issues will take up a number of the days that I can hunt so I don’t want to miss out on any of the opportunities that I do get to hunt because the dogs aren’t physically prepared to hunt. Also, included in these trainings is getting the human part of the team into shape. It seems that each year it gets more difficult to fit into the hunting pants at the start of the season. I’ve been trying to ride my bike more and to make the dog walks longer so that I can shed some pounds.
Tina and I just returned from the vet and she is 4 lbs lighter than at this time last year. A 10% decrease for her and I think that she actually has more muscle also.