Tips to Help Avoid Injuries in Retrievers

Here's how to help your retriever avoid common injuries

This sponsored content is brought to you by Purina ProPlan as part of the Sporting Dog Spring Training Program. Ducks Unlimited editorial staff had no role in creating this content.

The unwavering courage and desire retrievers demonstrate in the marshes are nothing short of amazing. Because sporting dogs have no quit in doing what they love, the respect and care you have for your dog, as well as the ability to understand the stress a sport such as waterfowling puts on a dog, is important in minimizing his or her risk of injury.

Here, pro retriever trainer Mike Lardy of Handjem Kennels in Montello, Wisconsin, discusses the little things that can make a big difference in a dog’s performance. Follow Lardy’s tips, which are helpful across the board for all sporting dogs, on proper training, conditioning and care to help keep your dog healthy and prevent injuries.

  • DO Take It Slowly In training, it’s a long haul to get from a puppy to a finished gundog. There’s a misconception that more is better, but it is not true. Do not progress to advanced training until your dog masters the basics. Injuries can be the consequence of doing too much too soon. Don’t forget to also take time to warm up your dog before every training session.
  • DON’T Forget Your ABCs During training, stress the ABCs, or Attitude, Balance and Control. A dog should be obedient, independent and focused when performing a given task. As a trainer, you should find the right combination of positive reinforcement and correction with success and failure. Maintaining these principles are crucial to your dog’s success.
  • DO Take Notes During each training session with your dog, take notes on his or her progress on every skill. Your notes can help you detect slight changes in your dog’s performance and help identify a potential injury sooner.
  • DON’T Downplay Downtime Downtime is important. Your dog needs a vacation from waterfowling just as you need one from the real world. For example, every year, Lardy gives his dogs six weeks off, plus a weekend to rest after every two field trials. You can apply the same idea to your retriever.
  • DO Supplement with Conditioning Exercises such as roading, water sprints and kayak conditioning increase a dog’s aerobic base and decrease his or her risk of injury. Simply put, a well-conditioned retriever has a better physical performance.
  • DON’T Ignore the Little Things Your dog’s physical and mental soundness matters. Be sensitive to his or her abilities and attitude. If your retriever seems off, there’s a reason. Should you notice anything awry in your dog’s performance, stop physical activity and get him or her to the veterinarian.
  • DO Establish a Feeding Schedule The frequency and timing of feeding makes a difference in your dog’s performance. Retrievers should work on an empty stomach, so it’s best to feed once a day after your retriever has had ample time to cool down from the day’s activities.
  • Nutrition plays a major role in maintaining good health and achieving optimal performance in hardworking retrievers. It’s important to feed a nutrient-dense, high-protein/high-fat dog food, such as one of the Purina Pro Plan SPORT Formulas. Please visit www.proplansport.com to learn more about top-notch nutrition for canine athletes.

    This sponsored content is brought to you by Purina ProPlan as part of the Sporting Dog Spring Training Program. Ducks Unlimited editorial staff had no role in creating this content.