If you’re like me, there’s a couple of months of downtime between the end of hunting season and the beginning of training, so I thought I’d share a few tidbits of wisdom and experiences on the subject. Although I kind of enjoy the layoff, the dogs don’t view it in the same way and become restless after a week or two of inactivity; our window blinds are beginning to show the effects of them standing up on the window sills to look search the pasture for birds. Nearly ten months out of the year they’re either training or hunting, and idleness isn’t something they enjoy.
We keep them somewhat in shape with workouts on the treadmill and they’re happy to do it for a treat. There’s training through the game of tug-of-war, which might come in handy if they need to steal a bird (or portion thereof) from another hunter or dog so that we don’t come home empty-handed. Playing catch in the living room is also very good training for those times when I can’t hit a bird and the only way to bring one home is for them to snag it out of the air
But maybe more beneficial are the sporadic sessions of obedience training, in which I give commands and they obediently do whatever they want. Actually, they do well with their obedience and I’ve worked with them from time to time on the “stay” and “heel” commands, pack style. Indoors it’s generally “heel” since there’s no room to do much else without knocking over the furniture. Now back when Doc was a pup, I turned him into a waterfowl dog by giving him dead ducks to fetch and carry around the house, even though they were often as big as he. However on that subject, I haven’t pushed the envelope but am sure that tracking, fetching and casting indoors using bird wings, would be frowned upon.