By Chris Jennings
Keeping a retriever in "hunt-ready" condition is important throughout the year, but as the heat index climbs, trainers need to carefully balance training sessions, keeping the dog's health in mind at all times. Retrievers are known for their all-out approach in the field, so running well organized training sessions during the summer's hottest days will keep the dog sharp, as well as safe from overheating.
Keep it short
This applies to several different aspects of summer training. Mike Stewart, owner and operator of Wildrose Kennels in Oxford, Miss., understands hot weather and has implemented several variations to keep dogs sharp and cool. There is a time for every training aspect and Stewart takes advantage of the heat to focus on simple training sessions some trainers might not consider.
"There are still lots of good things duck hunters can do this time of year," says Stewart. "There are two things you have to remember though: keep the dog wet, and keep the dog in the shade."
Stewart will work the dogs early in the morning when there is still dew on the ground, but for trainers who don't have the luxury of early-morning training, make sure the dog is working in the shade.
"I would rather have a dog do three 20-yard retrieves than do one 60," explains Stewart. "This is a great time to throw out three bumpers, allowing the dog to hear all three splashes but not letting him see them hit the water. These short multiple retrieves are a great way to teach a dog to mark by sound."