The weather certainly doesn’t feel like fall, but hunting season will be here before you know it. And, like it or not, now is the time to prepare for those fall trips and to make sure your dog is ready. You can have the best hunting spots and the nicest shotgun, but if your dog isn’t ready, what does it matter? 

 Here are five things to do now to get your dog ready for fall. Happy hunting!

 1.  Check your dog’s weight.

 This is crucial in many ways. An overweight dog can’t perform its best in the field and could get itself in trouble with overexertion, especially in extreme heat. A crash diet isn’t the best answer. Rather reduce your dog’s weight slowly. (See our entry titled “Feeding For Ideal Body Condition” for more information.)

   2.  Check your dog’s health.

 Lingering parasites and bacteria that don’t cause problems normally could become issues when your dog is stressed. At a minimum, get a stool sample checked by your vet for giardia, coccidia and worms.

 3.  Start a conditioning program.

 It takes a good 6 – 8 weeks of regular exercise to get a dog in top-notch shape. Start slowly with moderate exercise and progress to more strenuous routines as the dog improves.  Conditioning your dog in the cooler part of the day will provide the most benefit.

 4.  Make time for training sessions.

Schedule training sessions to tune-up your dog on obedience and bird work. Expect your dog to be a little rusty. Don’t try to get all the training done in one or two sessions. Short sessions spread over a period of time will give the best results—and keep your dog happy and motivated, too!

 5.  Check your dog gear.

 Make sure your dog gear is in good working order and check that your ecollar batteries still hold a charge. Better yet, technology improves all the time and perhaps it’s time to upgrade to newer equipment. Buy now and you’ll still have time to learn how it operates.

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