As the game season approaches and you get ready for your first outing of the year it’s important to make sure your gundog is well prepared ahead of time. From conditioning and obedience training to your kit bag, we’ve covered everything you’ll need to make sure you both enjoy a successful season.
For your gundog to really excel, they'll need training in some specific skills. Think about enrolling in a recognised gundog training programme or working with a specialist trainer. Obedience, retrieving abilities, scent work, and field training should all be included in the programme. As your dog gets into the swing of things you want to make sure he doesn’t get carried away. Obedience training should include reliable recall and will ensure that you remain in control of what’s happening on the day.
Make Time for Them to Socialise
Gundogs need to be well socialised with people, other dogs, and comfortable with various different environments. This will help them to stay calm and focused during hunts and interact well with other dogs in the field.
Because of how active your gundog is throughout the hunting season, it's critical to make time for frequent exercise and stimulation to keep him in good physical shape out of season. The better condition they are in at the beginning of the season the more likely that they will perform well throughout. Don’t forget to incorporate some periods of inactivity in your training programme – on the day there will be periods of waiting around and they need to be prepared for these moments.
Prioritise safety during training and hunts. Always keep your dog close to you when he isn’t working with a slip lead. And make sure you have a first aid kit on hand for your dog in case of any injuries during the hunt.
Invest in some proper hunting equipment, such as decoys, blinds, and proper bird retrieval tools. You might also want to think about a warm vest for your dog and a game bag is a must.
Visit the hunting grounds so you can both become familiar with the terrain before the hunting season starts. You can use this knowledge to plan your hunting tactics and to understand any difficulties your gun dog might encounter.
Make sure you are aware of local hunting regulations and obtain any necessary licenses or permits you might need.
Always make sure you adhere to the Code of Good Shooting Practice and check that any shoot you attend is well managed with respect for both the environment and the welfare of all wildlife.
How do I Know my Gundog is Ready for the Season Ahead?
Every dog is different and whether your dog is ready will depend on his own natural abilities and his training programme. Most importantly pay attention to your dog’s behaviour as they will tell you what you need to know. Take their training at a nice steady pace to make sure they are fully prepared safely – pushing your dog before he is ready is not a good idea.
What Should I be Feeding my Gundog Throughout the Shooting Season?
You may need to start increasing your dog’s food during the season, especially if they are working as much as 4 or 5 days a week. Make sure you are giving enough nutrients and energy to help sustain the energy levels if they take part in physically demanding hunts. Giving them nutrient- and protein-rich meals of the highest quality will enhance their overall performance and recovery.
If your dog is working 1 or 2 days a week there you may not need to adjust their diet but this will also depend on their age and condition - speak to your vet for advice if you’re not sure.
Looking after the joints is also crucial for working dogs, and many owners will start giving a joint supplement from an early age to help stave off issues with the joints in later life. Joint Aid for Dogs provides complete support for both joints and muscles. It can be sprinkled over their usual food at a general maintenance level each day, increasing to full support level for the season itself.