Keep Your Dog Hydrated
Proper hydration is of utmost importance during summer training. “If you aren’t willing to leave the house without a bottle of water for yourself, then your dog needs the same,” says Jourdin. Dogs can drink a lot—and they should. Ideally, your 44-pound gun dog should drink at least a half-a-gallon to 1.5 gallons of water in warm conditions.1 Larger dogs should drink more.
Plan on bringing your own fresh water to where you train. Don’t rely on water you may find while you’re there. Standing water can have toxic algae growths, while water next to farm fields may contain harmful fertilizers or pesticides.
Train in Short Sessions
“In the heat of the summer, our training sessions for each dog are very short,” says Jourdin. High-noon is not your friend when it comes to summer training as dogs aren’t as well-equipped to deal with the heat as humans. Since afternoon hours are the hottest times of the day they should be avoided if possible. Instead, train in the early mornings or late evenings.
If afternoon hours are the only times you have available, then focus on very short training sessions with frequent rest periods to hydrate and cool down in the shade. According to Jourdin, “If we have to train in the afternoon, we will do pond work in the form of an honor line. One dog will be sent on a retrieve into the water, while the other dogs wait their turn in the shade.”
Incorporate Water Work
Water work has its benefits and is a great form of low-impact exercise for gun dogs. But just as swimming makes humans tired, it can do the same to a dog. Water work provides a cardiovascular workout that can overheat your dog similar to groundwork. So take the same number of breaks for rest and hydration as you would for land-based training drills.
Also keep in mind that the water temperature can become surprisingly high. “If you’re swimming and the water is warm, it’s not refreshing for you,” says Jourdin. “Same goes for your dog. Warm water will not cool him down as fast as swimming in cool, refreshing water.”
Know the Signs of Heat-Related Illness
Uncontrollable panting, vomiting, disorientation, and lack of coordination are some of the signs of heat-related illness and should not be ignored. Learn more about the signs and actions to take at eukanubasportingdog.com/HRI.