BRIAN JOHNSON ON OUTDOORS: Spring training for dogs

Published 8:24 pm Saturday, March 24, 2018

Everything in Southeast Texas is finally drying up, and the weather has been absolutely amazing for a few weeks now.

This is the time of year that most people like be outdoors. Bass fishermen are fishing, golfers are golfing, turkey hunters are hunting, and gardeners are starting to scratch around in the dirt.
Be sure not to forget that we aren’t the only ones who like to be outdoors enjoying this great weather.  Our four-legged, K-9 friends seem to love springtime as well.

More daylight hours equals more time in the evening to spend with your dog. If you have a duck-hunting dog, he is probably getting a little restless since season has been over for a few months now. Chances are you are not a professional dog trainer, and your dog could use a little springtime tune up. Below are a few tips to help get your dog into shape.

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The first step is to create a schedule and stick with it.  It is unrealistic to think that you will be able to train your dog everyday. In fact, a seven-day a week training program will only serve to burn most dogs out just like working seven days would burn you out. I recommend an every other day training schedule where you can set aside 10 to 20 minutes of time to train.

The next step is to reflect over the past season and establish where your dog excelled and where he needs improvement. Once you determine this you can decide which areas to focus on. If he needs more help with marking birds that he sees fall, then I recommend having a partner throw several marks for your dog as you handle him.  If he had trouble with blind retrieves, then go back to the basic casting drills for a while.

Third, remember that everything in dog training hinges on obedience.  There is no such thing as a great dog that doesn’t have great obedience.  Your dog must be able to sit calmly in the blind, walk slowly at your heel, and return to your side when called.  I recommend going over obedience drills every time you train.

Keep in mind that it is impossible to have a dog that is too obedient.  A well-mannered, well behaved dog is not only fun to hunt with, but he is a joy to be around all year long.

Finally, remember to keep the training sessions fun. If you aren’t having a good time, then chances are, ol’ Fido isn’t either. Play games, throw happy bumpers and feel free to wrestle in the grass. You will form a great bond and even get rid of some of the unnecessary stress in your life.  God never planned for us to worry all of the time or be stressed out, so maybe that is why he made dogs!

No matter what your training regime is, be sure to get outside and enjoy the cool weather because, believe me, summertime heat is just around the corner.

Whether is playing catch with the kids, or a stroll in the park, don’t forget about your pet. Remember that when it comes to enjoying this weather, your motto should be … no dog left behind!