With the mercury running up like the price of diesel, we’re all looking for ways to keep our dogs on track for the Fall. Here are a few tips to keep in mind until we see some relief in the forecast.1. Safety First. I’m not a veterinarian so consult a professional for the facts, but there are some commonsense signs I’ve seen to look for with a dog struggling in the heat. First and foremost, if you see them looking disoriented or confused, immediately head to get them looked at. This is a sign of heat stress and should be taken very seriously. Before that, look for an elongated, flat tongue. If you see it, stop training and get them in the shade or indoors and give them water to avoid the above-mentioned scenario.
2. Water Could Be Worse. When it gets hot, most of us try to incorporate more water into the regimen. This is fine, but look out for water temps being high as well. With days consistently in the upper 90s and 100s, small bodies of water will easily reach the upper 80s. The other concern is blue-green algae that blooms and releases deadly toxins this time of year. It’s very apparent on the surface of the water. If you see it, steer clear. Look for larger bodies of water that still have some inflow to them. This decreases stagnation and combats algae and rising temps.
"It’s no secret that the coolest part of the day is right at sunrise. Get out there and run 30 minutes in those temps and you can usually get a full session in."3. Set The Coffee Pot 30 Minutes Earlier. It’s no secret that the coolest part of the day is right at sunrise. Get out there and run 30 minutes in those temps and you can usually get a full session in. If the morning routine just isn’t possible for you, you can get some benefits in the last 30 minutes of light also.
4. Take It Inside. Most people don’t think about dog training indoors, but there is a lot to be accomplished there. Was Drake a little sloppy on those deliveries to hand last hunting season? Now’s the perfect time to clean that up! I purposefully will hold off on Hold Conditioning with dogs when convenient until it gets really hot because that’s one of the big things we can fix inside. Steadiness is another skill that can be cleaned up indoors. Bring the place board, stand, or field kennel inside. Really hone in on staying where told until released. Add distractions like kids playing, treats, and rolling tennis balls to up the ante.
5. Get Creative. Got some warehouse space you have access to? Use it. You can set up stands and place boards or mats and work on casting from one to the other. If your dog’s hold is already strong, you can even run the Reverse T drill this way. The floors usually aren’t conducive for hard-charging retrieves, but the pups tend to take it a little slower when they’re being handled if they have the bumper in their mouth already.
Don’t lose the ground you’ve gained just because it’s hot. Remember slow progress is still progress. Keep the faith. These days will pass and we’ll be watching cupped ducks across frosty sunrises in no time!