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Pro Tip to Get in Shape with Your Dog for Hunting Season

Featuring Jared Moss, Best Gun Dogs

When it comes to getting ready for the hunting season, conditioning is an important part of the preseason process. The better shape you and your dog are in, the more stamina you both will have in the field. While there are a number of ways to get you and your dog in shape, Pro Trainer Jared Moss of Utah’s Best Gun Dogs prefers mountain biking.

Handler working with GSP on a checkcord in a field

“We do a lot of mountain bike training,” says Moss. But before setting out on the trails, he first invests time in drag leash work with a long check cord. This entails attaching a 20-foot check cord that is 5/8” in diameter (so it has some weight) to your dog and letting him run while dragging the cord though brush and varying terrain. The exertion serves as a form of resistance training and helps build a dog’s muscles. The environment helps toughen and condition paw pads for the rigors of a real mountain bike trail.

“One of the biggest mistakes is to take a dog straight out and start riding like you would as a fit mountain biker. With dogs, start small and build up,” says Moss. Once you get your dog to the point where his muscles are prepared and pads are conditioned, then you are ready to take on the trails.

Once you hit the trails, the challenge is different. Make sure you are not over-exerting your dog by going out too hard and too fast. Moss suggests starting with wide open trails like old Jeep roads. Roll out easy in the 3- to 5- mph range. “Keep a nice slow pace. It’s better to exercise at 5 mph for an hour as opposed to 12 mph for 20 minutes,” he says. “We try not to go over 10 mph until a dog is rock solid.”

While mountain biking with your dog can be a great fitness program for both of you, safety precautions are key. “The big one for me with mountain biking is safety, and the most important thing with safety is a GPS tracking unit on your dog. If you ever get separated you can find him,” Moss says. “It can happen so quick with mountain biking. Sounds like overkill but the one day you need it you will be like ‘oh man so glad I have that.’” Moss also packs a few first-aid items in the event a dog gets a cut on his pad or breaks a toenail.

It’s also important to be vigilant for signs of heat-related illness. “Any time it is over 70 degrees I really pay attention to my dogs. It doesn’t take much to overheat them,” says Moss. Make sure to give your dog frequent breaks to cool down in the shade and hydrate.

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