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English setter on point in a broomstraw field

Sporting Dog Performance

Tips for maximizing your sporting dog's performance in the covers, fields and blinds

Yellow British Lab swimming out on a waterfowl retrieve

First Season Expectations of Your Sporting Dog

Opening Day is what we wait for all year long. It’s the start of the best time of the year. We gather with family, friends, and most importantly, our dogs. Some of us run covers and fields while others sit in boats and blinds by a pond, lake, or river. No greater joy comes from watching a pup develop in his first season.

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How to Read Your Dog

Dogs can’t speak, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t eager to communicate. Savvy handlers look at body language to understand what’s going on with their dogs. Every dog has a number of tells, and each one says something different. Gaining insight into what dogs are trying to communicate is important for improving performance levels, and here’s some advice from several top pros.

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Hannah Criscoe of Whistling Wings Kennels on a flooded timber hunt with her Boykin spaniel
GSP on point in broomstraw


Years ago, when I was living in Montana, a friend and I frequently hunted at a public access area that had pheasant fields combined with a dozen small ponds that attracted waterfowl. It was common to encounter both ducks and pheasant, and his retriever was happy to work both.

Chocolate Lab sitting on stand focused on incoming waterfowl

Improving Sporting Dog Focus in the Fields and Blinds

Helping a dog stay sharp requires a combination of conditioning, training, and nutrition. Put these elements together and you will help keep your dog focused on the task at hand.

JC Bosch styles his shorthair pointer that honors an English Setter's Point

Self-Assessment for Dog Handlers

No one needs to be reminded of how much goes into dog training. Handlers always have a lot on their minds when they’re getting their strings ready for field trials, testing programs, and upland and waterfowl hunting. Here are 9 tips from some of the top pros in the country.

GSP and black Lab puppies running through field

What To Consider When Selecting A Sporting breed Puppy

A lot more should go into selecting a new sporting dog puppy than simply responding to an advertisement. Defining your wants and needs, doing research, and being patient are also critical.

Whitney Miller creating a bond with a shorthair puppy

where to find a sporting breed puppy

The quality of available puppies is much higher now than ever before. Puppies from field trial or hunt test lineages, as well as those with strong hunting genetics, are easily sourced. The increased popularity is not limited to pointers, flushers, and retrievers. Versatile breeds are gaining in acceptance.

Brittany spaniel on point in a field

the search for the ultimate cover dog

Good grouse and woodcock dogs know how to navigate bullbriers, raspberry thickets, and hawthorns, and they have speed. Cover dogs are specialists, and if you’re looking for an ideal cover dog, then here are some points to consider.

English Setters running uphill on a rocky terrain during a hunt

Maintaining Sporting Dog Performance in Extreme Conditions

Environmental factors like extreme heat, humidity, cold, tough terrain, and elevation can significantly impact a canine athlete’s performance. That’s why it’s important to prepare your sporting dog for the early season heat waves just as you do the late winter blizzards.

English Setter panting from a hot run in the woods

Keep Your Sporting Dog Safe in the Heat

Dehydration and heat stroke is a three-stage process. High environmental temperatures increase the rate at which dogs become dehydrated. And as the percent of water loss from the body increases, the signs become more severe.

GSP hunting with handler in a field

Successfully Introduce Your Sporting Dog to New Terrain

Helping a bird dog adjust to terrain changes is important. In my guiding business, I see excellent quail and pheasant dogs get confused when they are introduced to the grouse woods.

Black Lab running into water on a retrieving drill

Pro Tips to Help Gun Dogs Stay Cool During the Preseason

Pre-season training in the summer is an important part of getting ready for Opening Day. But it’s hot—really hot—and humid, too. It’s important to help your gun dog stay cool while training in the heat. Here are some pro tips from Tennessee’s Mauri Joudin, the head trainer for Duckhill Kennels.

Trainer works to style a Gordon Setters point

How to Prepare for Your Best Hunting Season Yet

When hunting season ends, many hunters clean and put away their gear and dread the off season months to come. However, there are many things you can do now to ensure that next year is a success. When you are constantly preparing for hunting season, the off-season becomes nonexistent because there is always something to do. Here are some tips to make your next hunting season the best yet.