Getting your Dog Ready this Season

In preparation for the coming gamebird hunting season I begin to increase my dog’s fitness with plenty of walks and I reinforce the basic commands, like signalling direction for a blind retrieve etc.  Over summer I also ensure they get plenty of time in and around water.  Some dogs, particularly young inexperienced ones, can be reluctant to enter water.  Summer is the time to overcome this by wading or swimming with your dog, making water a fun and ‘normal’ environment to be in.


Heading into autumn, a big recommendation I have is to familiarise your dog with the wetland or location you’re going to hunt.  This way, come opening day when there is so much action and excitement coming at your dog full noise, he or she will be comfortable in the surroundings.  The familiarity of sights and smells will put them more at ease, confident to take on the multitude of challenges you in your own excitement, will expect of them.  During the visits to mark-up or scrub-up my maimai I like to include my dog’s favourite training dummies, tossing them from the maimai to simulate the retrieves I’ll expect my my canine side-kick to be making.  The dog learns entry and exit spots around the wetland, and just becomes more confident in the surroundings.  If your hunting buddies have dogs, it’s a good idea to let the dogs socialise with each other.  Again, you are eliminating a possible stressful or even aggressive situation that could ruin your opening morning.  Even better, when there’ll be more than one dog doing the retrieving, is to toss dummies together with the other dogs.  They get used to swimming with each other and hopefully not competing to be first to the same dummy (or duck), which is where having direction control or the ‘leave’ command instilled becomes very handy.  Once sorted they will enjoy the teamwork that comes with working simultaneously.  On a busy hunting day, you want to conserve their energy for multiple quick retrieves, so two or more dogs each retrieving different ducks is so important. 


At Hunting & Fishing New Zealand, we import the specialised dog items you’ll need for training and keeping your dogs fit.  These include the Dokken’s rubber and canvas bumper dummies, but our best sellers are the Mallard and Pheasant training dummies.  These are life size floating replicas of the ‘greenhead drake’ or the wily ‘rooster’ cock pheasant.  There’s even a miniature mallard for puppy or small breed training.   The companion product for training dummies is the mallard  or pheasant scent which can be injected into the dummy to help your dog learn about tracking or winding a hidden bird. We’re running a $119.99 combo deal on Dummy & Scent this autumn for extra value.  


Duck hunting is at its best during the harshest of weather.  You’re going to expect your dog to tolerate freezing conditions in or out of the water.  To off-set the extreme cold our stores stock three grades of insulating dog vests, all are camo to keep your dog concealed with size options for virtually all dogs. Choose from either the Avery Sporting Dog (ASD) Standard Dog Parka, the ASD Boaters Parka with back located hand grip enabling you to lift your dog into a boat or up a slippery bank, or the ultimate MoMarsh Vest, more expensive to start with but as you can adjust it as your dog grows, or adapt it for another dog, it is not only super warm, but very versatile and long lasting.  All of these vests are constructed from buoyant waterproof materials giving your dog an extra element of floatation as well as protection from sharp objects and of course the feature is insulation. 


Your gundog will give his or her all to retrieve your game, and you’ll want them to recover quickly and do it all again tomorrow.  Dog whistles are great, they grab immediate attention and can be heard above wind and waves. Choosing a good high energy food for this time of year is something I do, but just as importantly, I make sure my dog is dry, warm and comfortable as well as being well fed, at the end of a hunt.  To enhance that warmth and comfort, my dogs love their camo dog bed so it comes in the truck during the hunting season.  And as a final compliment to your canine hunting buddy, you can’t go past the Styx Mill Oilskin Dog Coats for the recovery periods.  Comfortable and warm, dogs really love them and they’re also a great looking accessory, perfect for those winter walks.  
Top dog work can be the highlight of any hunt, to achieve this on a regular basis, what you put into your dogs in both training and gear, will reflect what you get out!