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The Dog Days of Summer

Ireland 1 (1)

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.

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4 Responses to “The Dog Days of Summer”

  1. Mark Herwig says:

    I alternate between running my dog with a bicycle and running/swimming him on a nearby lake as I canoe. When biking, I run him in the morning before it gets too hot. I have him on a short leash so he can’t run out front of the bike and crash me. I have to avoid other dogs, especially those on those extended leashes where the dog can attack my dog. That happened once and I was nearly knocked unconscious, injuring my shoulder. You also have to pay close attention when they need to relieve themselves as some dogs will lock up, knocking you from the bike (this happened to me once in traffic, but luckily I escaped injury).

    When its too hot, I canoe a nearby lake. My dog swims most the time, but also runs along shore. The residents don’t mind. I keep an e-collar on him to prevent him from chasing and killing molting waterfowl, ducklings/goslings and shorebirds. My wife also walks the dog most days. Its all good exercise for me too. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. A well kept dog hunts better come fall.

  2. Seve says:

    I haven’t gotten my dog yet…the deposit is down for next spring as this year’s litters are taken. However, I’ve been thinking of this often. We have a fairly large “urban” fenced backyard which will help general activity. I am also planning on walking and/or running with the dogs in the morning before work and my wife is planning on going for walks in the evening.

    We are also lucky enough to belong to a private golf club which is all of 250 yards from my front door. I am planning on bringing him out there quite a lot in the winter when the course is closed to run around. In the summer, I am hoping to walk him around the course early in the mornings (I see someone with his black lab walking down the 8th fairway most mornings) and I eventually plan on walking him around while playing a few holes in the summer late in the evenings.

    My wife and I are pretty active people, so we’re hoping we’ll rub off on our puppy!

  3. Randy says:

    My dog is getting older so summer walking is somewhat of a challenge. We usually take a couple mile walk/run around 4:30-5:00 in the mornings and depending on weather, in the evenings. Lately the temp has hovered around 100 with a “wind chill” of 105-118 (humidity is bad), so we’ve just been out early. As well, the county has a large park not too far away and on weekends, we go over there, weather/temp permitting, and walk/run an additional 3-4 miles.

    Spring, very early summer, fall and winter we’ll walk mornings and evenings and since I office at home, those days I am in, we’ll take a couple mile walk around lunch time or so as both of us need to get out of the office.

    He and I both enjoy it as it is time we can be together without others around.

  4. northwoods says:

    lots of county forest land that my dogs can run in. also lakes and rivers for swimming. finding a place to exercise my dog is really easy for me….guess i’m lucky with the abundunce of public lands


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