The summer months are a tough time to be a bird dog owner. State owned wildlife areas and federally owned waterfowl production areas are both closed to dogs till mid-July because of the nesting season. No arguments with those regulations, it makes sense for those lands’ purpose as critical pieces of wildlife habitat. Nonetheless, as a guy owning nothing more than a suburban lawn, trying to find a place to keep the dogs in shape and burn off a little of their ya-ya’s is a challenge in urban America.
Early on in my suburban life, I tested the dog park route. Although dog parks are good in theory, they are only as functional as the least socialized mutt in the pack at that moment. Consequently, I’ve witnessed all varieties of reasons to quit trying to exercise my bird dogs in sanctioned off-leash dog parks, but the final straw came two years ago when a pair of owners tried to teach their pooches dominance by escalating their differences in dog training philosophy to an all-out fist fight. As a crowd gathered (dogs and humans), I vowed never to return.
These days, I’ve got two off-leash dog running options from mid-April through mid-July. The first option is a local game farm hunt club that is closed during the summer months. They allow members to run their dogs on their private land during the off-season because of the absence of wild nesting birds.
My second option is a real gem. It’s about 80 acres of land donated to the local community. To date, the township hasn’t quite figured out what to do with the property yet. There’s rumors of little league fields (like we need more empty ballparks for kids not to be using), but fortunately for me and my two bird dogs the land has gone two full years as off-leash dog running heaven. It’s a location somewhat hidden to passers-by, but there is a Vizsla owner, a Springer owner and a few Lab owners I see there regularly. In two years, I can count the non-hunting dog breeds I’ve encountered on one hand. It seems us bird dog folks share a common need to find some good running ground for our canine athletes.
Do you have an off-leash piece of property to exercise your bird dog during the summer months, or do you leash up the pup and go for a jog?
The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing. Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.