5 Bird Dog Training Tune-Ups for the Season Ahead

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With upland bird hunting seasons around the corner, re-ignite your dog’s confidence and performance with these preseason training tips

The old adage “preparation is the key to success” is never truer than when it comes to training your bird dog. With opening days just around the corner, it’s time to sharpen your dog up from the lazy dog days of summer to the upland hunting season ahead

These 5 preseason bird dog training tune-ups will help re-ignite your dog’s confidence and performance.
 

1 Toe the Line

Never underestimate the importance of getting back to basics. Obedience training can be done anywhere at any time, such as while opening your dog’s crate or during feeding time. “Sit” and “come” or “heel” are the foundation and arguably most critical of obedience commands. Keep your dog sharp on these before advancing to other essential commands such as “kennel,” “place,” “down” and “no.”
 

2 On Your Best Behavior

You own what you condone. If you allow your dog to display undesirable behaviors, such as jumping, failure to retrieve to hand, nibbling or licking, that’s what you’ll get in the field. What’s more, the longer your dog’s behavior is unchecked, the tougher it is to eliminate. During bird dog training, don’t allow your dog to become lazy or sloppy. Every dog has the occasional hiccup, but if he or she repeatedly makes the same mistakes, corrections are in order.
 

3 Tiptop Shape

Just like exercise is good for the human body, such is also the case for your dog. A dog needs both muscle conditioning and cardio endurance to be at his or her best throughout the season. Examples of muscle building include sprints or swims with retrieves, while cardio endurance could be in the form of jogging, hiking or roading with a four-wheeler or bike — anything at a slower pace over a longer period of time. That being said, be cautious during warm weather to avoid overheating, and always carry plenty of water to keep your dog hydrated.
 

4 Burning Desire

Sure, you’ve heard that it takes birds to make a good bird dog time and time again. But hunters oftentimes forget about this basic training principle. The idea is to give your dog plenty of opportunities to enhance his or her prey desire and drive through exposure to birds. Take some of your bird dog training sessions to a hunting preserve or sporting dog club, or work with a local trainer to increase your dog’s exposure to birds before the real deal come fall.
 

5 Proper Nutrition + Hydration

It is best to feed your hardworking bird dog a high-protein/high-fat performance food, such as Purina Pro Plan SPORT Performance 30/20 Formula, year-round to help maximize training and conditioning. A dog also should be well-hydrated, as exercise is a heat-producing activity, and water is required to dissipate heat. Water also is needed to remove the byproducts of energy metabolism, which is essential to endurance and performance.