Train smarter with these tips!
After a long cold winter, you may be excited to get outside and do some serious retriever training . Your retriever is probably excited for that too! Here are some pro tips for avoiding injuries while training your gun dog.
It’s important to start slow
It’s likely, for many of you, that your retriever has been doing minimal work during the winter. Like many owners, winter makes us a little soft. That is why it is super important that you start slow and build your dog’s strength and endurance over time. If you don’t, injury to your dog is a real possibility.
I compare it to running a marathon. If you want to run a marathon but you haven’t been running on a regular basis, you wouldn’t go out and run 20 miles on the first day. That would likely result in an injury and lots of pain. Instead, you would start with a mile or two, and slowly build up to running the full amount over time. It is the same with your dog.
Avoid the risk of injuring your retriever
Dogs that have not been training regularly are more prone to injuries. If your retriever is not conditioned for training, he/she can easily sprain muscles and tear ligaments during those first few training sessions. Especially if you don’t have a plan.
Allow your dog to warm up and stretch
Prior to training your dog, let them out of the truck or kennel run and let them run around a bit. This will warm up their muscles and allow them time to empty (go potty). Want to teach your dog to empty on command?
Once the dog has relieved themselves and stretched out, bring them under control and start your training/conditioning session.
Be deliberate in your conditioning
My advice is to slowly build up your retrievers’ muscles and endurance.
Start with short walks and 1-3 short retrieves. Then gradually increase the length of the walks, the number of retrieves and the distance of the retrieves.
Same with water work, start with 1-3, short retrieves in the water and gradually increase the number of retrieves and the distance.
Even if your dog is begging for more retrieves or a longer walk, don’t give in. Dogs do not know that working too long and hard will result in sore muscles and/or injury. It is your responsibility as the dog owner, to make that call.
Don’t worry. Even with a slower training schedule, it won’t be long before your retriever is doing several hundred-yard marks over and over again.
Now is also a good time to review your retriever training goals and my How to train a Labrador Retriever post.
Final thoughts on how to avoid injuries while training your retriever gun dog
Spending time training your retriever should be fun and enjoyable, for both you and the dog. And it can be as long as you don’t get carried away. Just start slow, and resist the temptation to “just do one more” retrieve.
Like I said, your dog will want to do more, they don’t understand the need for conditioning. That is why you must control the training session and allow them to slowly gain muscle and endurance for the hunting season ahead. An injury free hunting season will well be worth it!
If you really want your retriever to grow and progress in his/her hunting this year but doing the training yourself sounds overwhelming or maybe your schedule is just too busy to get it done, I’m here to help! You can email me (email@example.com) or just give me a call (651-303-6459). I would be happy to discuss your goals for your retriever and tell you about the programs I offer.
Until next time happy retrieving.
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