Keeping dogs cool while they are in your rig is one of the first things that should be on your to do list at the start of hunting season. I’m a social media junkie, I follow a lot of people and groups related to bird hunting and it seems like at the start of every season the first thing on people’s minds is what new pair of boots or hunting vest they are going to buy.
On top of my list of ways to prepare for the season, are ways that I can improve my dogs comfort level and the performance level that goes along with it. There’s a million tricks you can use to help your dogs but lets talk about the 5 broad points that are vital to my success.
There isn’t anyway around this. Preseason conditioning for your dog is a must. Just like us if we condition ourselves to weather and exertion we can handle it better. It’s no different for the dogs. A lot of inexperienced hunters think that because they are dogs they can run a hell of a lot more than we give them credit for. Others feel that young dogs can handle it because they are young. Its true that younger dogs often have more stamina. However, just like young athletes if you push them too far they will fall apart or get injured. It’s even more important as they age.
It doesn’t take much, I’m a firm believer that a daily or near daily 15 minute run goes a long way when hunting season starts. Anyone can run a dog for 15 minutes a day. Take them for a walk in the woods, take them along on a walk or a bike ride and it will pay big dividends for both you and your pup.
Water should never be in short supply during hunting season no matter what the weather. Ive had several dogs who didn’t seem interested in taking water while they were hunting. I don’t give them a choice, every 20-30 minutes or so my dogs are given a small amount of water.
I have a roof mounted water supply for the dogs and carry two squirt bottles in my vest. The squirt bottles cut down on waste and can easily be refilled at the truck. The roof mounted source takes up no space insides the vehicle and is warmed by the sun when the weather is cooler. The whole thing cost me about $80 to build.
Hands down dogs should not be kept in an enclosed space in my option. My dogs are kept in crates in the bed of my truck and my truck has a cap with a sliding window on one side that can be at least cracked open if not kept fully open. In addition, my kennels have fans on them that can be used when it.s hot or just used to circulate air throughout the cap.
I use simple fans that run on cordless drill batteries and can be bought for around $50 a piece. Another thing to think about is that in todays social climate, it’s always good to have some sort of ventilation system for the animals. People freak out when they see dogs inside of a vehicle.
I always have a stakeout in the truck with me so that when I am near the animals I can stake them out in the shade and keep them from running about and getting overheated. I stake my dogs out young so that they get used to being on the chain and they will calm lie in the shade of my vehicle along with a bowl of water if we are taking a break or eating lunch, etc.
This may not necessarily be for everyone but I carry some ice treats for my dogs when it’s very warm. I basically take a small amount of hamburger meat and freeze it in an ice mold filled with mainly water. The dogs will chew on it and cool themselves down some in the process. I throw mine right in the cooler with beer, food and the rest of the ice.