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Dog Training – How Hot is Too Hot?

One tired puppy – even in the early mornings, it’s been hard to escape the heat this summer. Photo courtesy Anthony Hauck / Pheasants Forever

If you’re a bird dog owner, you know that dogs and heat are not a great mix (see Recognizing the Dangers of Overheating in Dogs from Purina, Pheasants Forever’s national dog food sponsor). I haven’t had to find out the hard way – avoiding the heat has been my number one priority this summer in training my first bird dog.

In my first few months of bird dog ownership, there were a few overcautious vet visits (where they now know “Sprig” and I on a personal level) and I’m sure the staff there had some good laughs at my expense (Really? Nails?). But even as pup and I have gotten into a comfortable mode, the one thing I haven’t been afraid to worry-wart is the heat.

Thankfully, “Sprig” has taken a liking to water and I’ve taken a liking, miraculously, to getting up before 6 am. Despite these best efforts, there’s no doubt the oppressive heat has slowed training progress this summer, days where we’ve had to count the walk to the truck as exercise.

Because well-bred dogs won’t draw the line, it’s up to us as owners to draw the lines for them. Exactly what is that threshold when it comes to heat? A line used by some trainers is the rule of 140 – if the temperature plus the humidity percentage tops 140, then field work is a no-go. I’ve also heard of different temperature levels – 80, 75, 72 degrees – used as markers to determine whether to train or not.

Had I religiously adhered to these rules of thumb, I’d have gotten virtually no training in this summer – temperatures in the 60s have been that rare – but their usefulness is evident, and though I don’t have any set-in-stone laws, I’m constantly monitoring conditions. Seems to me if you can’t beat the heat, don’t try.

Heat-wise, where do you draw the line for training?

Read more in the “My First Bird Dog” series here.

Anthony’s Antics Afield is written by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor. Email Anthony at AHauck@pheasantsforever.org and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.

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4 Responses to “Dog Training – How Hot is Too Hot?”

  1. Cody Leonard says:

    In the same boat. Getting up at 5am to get to the fields by 6am. Heading back home by 8am. Not long sessions. But fun and productive. Dogs are ready. I am counting down the days. I just hope after the heat from this summer that the birds have survived.

  2. Thanks Cody. If you’re not a “morning person,” a dog will see to it that you are! – Anthony Hauck, Online Editor, Pheasants Forever

  3. Bryant says:

    I try to run my dog everyday. With this heat it has been difficult, but I would do 5-10 minutes in the morning before work. And space our a few more sessions after work, keeping them all short. I always play it safe and make sure cold drinking water is kept close. After a longer workout in the heat my dog loves getting hosed down (I got the idea from cooling down racehorses) and tapering his activity.

  4. John O says:

    As a black lab owner, I keep my summer conditioning as you do to either early mornings, or for stamina and strength, to swimming for bumpers. We have a small pond on our patch of the earth, and at 72 degrees he finds a way to ensure he needs a little cool off time there after any 5 minutes of work!


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