I see people with house dogs do it all of the time. It’s 98 degrees and they have ol’ Rusty on his leash because it’s time to “go poo-poo for mama”. So, Rusty leaps from his plush doggie bed in 72 degree air conditioned comfort and is bouncing up and down by the door waiting for the leash, an opening and the wide open spaces of the local park! When he first enters freedom’s bliss, he looks like a calf in a rodeo. Run fast, hit the end of the rope, bounce back, repeat. Just a few short minutes into the trip, ol’ Rusty has slowed down considerably. His tongue is hanging out about 8 inches long and he’s panting like the chug-a-lug of a Model T. He might even be involved in more of a drag than a walk by now, but he must continue on until mama leans down with her rubber glove and does the dirty work. Back home once again, Rusty foregoes the cozy doggie bed and stretches out belly down on the cool tile of the kitchen or bathroom.
Overheating and dehydration is serious business with our dogs, and as bad as it is in the dreaded August heat, I believe winter may be even hard on them from a dehydration perspective.
For bird hunters, summer workouts are imperative. September brings teal for lots of folks across America and in places like Montana, there are huns and sharptails to chase. Field trials even start back up around Labor Day. You can’t afford to just take the summer off. Common sense plays a huge role. Take steps to get your dog work done in the best of the bad conditions.
- It starts in the kennel. Cut the feed back. The very smart veterinarians and scientists at Purina Pro Plan agree that feeding the same exact food to your dog 365 days per year is very beneficial health wise. Your dog’s system will undergo physical change long past visual effects of changing feeds or even different formulas of the same feed. If you feed a “hot” fuel for working or hunting dogs, feed it year-round. Just cut the portion in half in the summer. They aren’t using nearly as much in the summer months.
- Set your alarm. Ronnie Smith and Susanna Love at Ronnie Smith Kennels in Oklahoma are up long before the roosters. They get the most strenuous dog work done in the coolest part of the day. Things like roading and longer, more intense work should be finished up by midmorning or so, depending on your climate.
- Shade trees are nice. Much of your yard work, force fetch, whoa break etc. can be accomplished in a smaller area. That means move it to the shade.
- Water, water, water. Of course keep plenty of water handy and available and teach your dog to drink from a squirt bottle. Kinder Outdoors Pro Tom Dokken has a nifty approach to teach this. Put a dab of peanut butter on the mouthpiece of a squirt bottle. When they start to lick the peanut butter off of the tube, gently send a little water to them at the same time. They will catch on after just a few tries.
- Quitters do win sometimes. Know the signs of overheating in your dog. If his nose is pointed straight up to the sky, mouth wide open and tongue hanging out, it’s time to back off and cool down a bit. On dogs with short hair like shorthairs or pointers pinch and lift the skin on the back. If it doesn’t immediately lay back down properly when you turn loose, time out, cool down. It can happen in a hurry, and hot dogs are not learning dogs. They are focused on cooling themselves down.
- Buy a swim suit. Get in the water with them for good cardio exercise, for both of you. Work on a few water retrieves. Careful though…Don’t assume that all dogs are natural swimmers, they aren’t. Use a check-cord with younger dogs.
Enjoy your dogs! You’ll be working together in the dove field, teal blind and upland pastures before you know it…Get ready!!
Quick tip…If you have a kennel setup that allows you to run a garden hose across the top, buy a long sprinkler hose. You know, the kind of flat water hose that has little holes in it from one end to the other? Zip tie it in place, sprinklers aimed down into the runs. Set it up on a watering timer for 5 minutes each of the hottest hours of the day. Not only does it give your dogs a beneficial cool down, but it helps keep urine washed down as well.
August 11, 2020