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"HARD WATER" TRAINING AND HUNTING


Irishwhistler

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Irishwhistler

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"Hard Water Gun Dogs" ~ With the mercury in New England recently plummeting into the teens, the still waters we normally conduct water training in have become hardened over with ice. At this time of year, we are forced to adapt our training locations to the moving and less frozen conditions existing on rivers and saltwater environments. Training is such conditions provide a number of beneficial opportunities, but also come with challenges and potential dangers for the K9's.
As can be seen in their anxious expressions here, MAC and TRAD are more than willing to contend with cold waters just for their innate love of working retrieves. A local river can be seen in the background presenting open waters without the covering of ice now having formed on ponds and lakes throughout much of the region.

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River Retrievals ~ My gun dog TRAD is seen making the retrieve of a training bumper in the swift moving waters of a local river we have sought in which to do water work. Though unfrozen on their surface, such waters do present extremely low temperatures and the potential for hypothermia in the K9's. It is important to keep watch for signs of potential K9 hypothermia and to take preventative measures to avoid it before symptoms resent themselves. I keep sessions brief working on specific concepts that I am training on. Dogs being worked will most often be wearing neoprene training vests to aid in retaining their core temperature whilst providing them additional buoyancy during training.

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Moving Water ~ In addition to the low water temperatures encountered at this time of season are the dangers associated with swiftly moving waters. Attention should be given to the presence of shoreline ice formations that might present danger upon dogs whilst both entering and exiting the waters during a retrieve. As well, the handler of K9's training in sub-freezing riverine environs should be aware of large sections of frozen surface downstream which a dog could easily be sucked under and trapped, as well, such floating ice upriver that might potentially break free and endanger dogs being worked in their path. Be aware that jagged ice can cut and that slippery surfaces can present danger for injuries that can tear muscle and connective tissues.

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Train Like You Hunt ~ A widely accepted training concept in the military and law enforcement is to train for the conditions one is likely to encounter. We hunt our dogs under very challenging conditions that require them to handle both moving waters and extreme cold. In this image we were hunting large open marine waters with a water temperature of 34 degrees F. Note Labrador gun dog PEARL riding toward the aft section of the boat is wearing her neoprene float vest.  

Our retrievers are prepared well in advance of ever being hunted under these arduous field conditions. The dogs work hard and cannot seem to get enough of retrieving birds taken under such harsh conditions. We monitor them closely and dry them with towels between retrieves. High energy nutrition and keeping the dogs well hydrated are important in keeping their internal furnace burning to provide the energy necessary to work under these most challenging conditions.


Our retrievers meet with most demanding work whilst hunting in these extreme cold environs and we trust them to get the work done in retrieval of our precious waterfowl taken. The dogs in turn depend on us with their full trust to not place them in danger of severe injury or death that can literally happen most quickly should we let our guard down. We owe it to our most beloved companion gun dogs to be vigilant at all times on their behalf.

Cheers,
THE DOG WHISTLER ☘️🇮🇪🇺🇸

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Mike, what you are describing are the conditions of late season waterfowling in the Intermountain west. Waterfowl use our big rivers, like the Snake River in Idaho, in the winter for getting water to help digest grain and loaf. Most of the small ponds and canals are frozen solid. Our late season hunting over water always involves retrieves in current. This is why I do a lot of retriever training over moving water during the summer. I work on teaching the dog to "lead the bird" when retrieving and to run the bank instead of swimming immediately after the bird. This is particularly important when returning to the blind with the bird, so the dog doesn't waste energy in swimming against the current in ice cold water. I also work with a jerk string and a heavy anchor to pull dummies under water to imitate diving cripples to teach a dog to look around in a current and try to hold their position. Late season hunting definitely provides for unique retriever challenges.  

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Irishwhistler
16 hours ago, fishvik said:

Mike, what you are describing are the conditions of late season waterfowling in the Intermountain west. Waterfowl use our big rivers, like the Snake River in Idaho, in the winter for getting water to help digest grain and loaf. Most of the small ponds and canals are frozen solid. Our late season hunting over water always involves retrieves in current. This is why I do a lot of retriever training over moving water during the summer. I work on teaching the dog to "lead the bird" when retrieving and to run the bank instead of swimming immediately after the bird. This is particularly important when returning to the blind with the bird, so the dog doesn't waste energy in swimming against the current in ice cold water. I also work with a jerk string and a heavy anchor to pull dummies under water to imitate diving cripples to teach a dog to look around in a current and try to hold their position. Late season hunting definitely provides for unique retriever challenges.  

 

Fishvik,

Thanks for sharing Mate. 👍

 

Mike ☘️🇮🇪🇺🇸

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4 hours ago, Irishwhistler said:

 

Fishvik,

Thanks for sharing Mate. 👍

 

Mike ☘️🇮🇪🇺🇸

 Mike, we have these big loveable beasts because we love them and want to be safe and we want to conserve waterfowl.

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Irishwhistler
28 minutes ago, fishvik said:

 Mike, we have these big loveable beasts because we love them and want to be safe and we want to conserve waterfowl.

 

 

Fishvik,

SPOT ON LAD ! 

 

Mikey ☘️🇮🇪🇺🇸

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