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Is the Summer Heat Affecting Your Dog Training?

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July 22, 2011

Is the Summer Heat Affecting Your Dog Training?

By Chad Love

I recently loaded up the dog and headed to one of my semi-regular training spots at a nearby local public hunting area. It's a good-sized pond where, in a normal year, I can set up the bumper launchers to give Tess some good water work. I say semi-regular because I hadn't been to this particular spot in a couple months. Big mistake. What greeted me wasn't a pond, but a dusty bowl of weeds. Scratch one training pond and hunting-season mallard hole.

So we loaded back up and headed to our local reservoir. I don't generally like training on recreational lakes because you're usually limited in how you can set up your training scenarios, but we were already out there and I wanted Tess to at least get wet. But what greeted me when we pulled up to the lake was a notice tacked to the boat ramp warning me about the dangers and possibility of algae blooms. The only way Tess was getting wet that day was at the end of a garden hose...

My experience is becoming commonplace. Retriever owners in some parts of the country (me included) are finding it increasingly difficult to get much training done this summer. Whether it's intense heat (even in the early morning/late evening hours), dried-up training ponds or widespread toxic algae blooms in what water remains, it's been a frustrating summer for me, training-wise. Sitting smack underneath the much-talked-about "heat dome," I've all but given up doing long pattern drills or long land marks and blinds. Since I live in a semi-arid area without much surface water to begin with, this epic, never-ending drought and heat wave means I'm losing my training (and duck hunting) water one boiled pond at a time.
 
I've had to change my tactics and my training goals. With overnight lows staying well into the eighties, I've got a short window of time in which to train, usually between when it gets light enough to see and sunrise. Instead of multiple long marks, I'll do one, or maybe a double, and shorten it up. I always have water, a cooler of ice and a 12-volt fan in the truck. I keep the sessions quick and I give the dog plenty of rest between even short runs. And I don't ever, ever, swim my dog in a body of water under an algae bloom warning. Instead, I've taken to sneaking into my local city park pond (which has several fountains and aerators that help prevent algae blooms) early in the morning before anyone's around for water work. It's not an ideal situation, but until we get significant rain, it's what I'm forced to work with.
 
Is anyone else in the same boat, metaphorically speaking? Has it affected your training and how are you coping with or adjusting to it?

Comments (11)

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from Nebraskahunter18 wrote 2 years 38 weeks ago

Come up north to nebraska and south dakota and you can do your training in 4 foot of water in the road ditches.

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from jamesti wrote 2 years 38 weeks ago

triple digits here in new york. over 90 at 8am! no training going on here right now!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from bbainbridge wrote 2 years 38 weeks ago

Now, granted I only swim my wirehair for her own fun and exercise, but we've had somewhat the opposite in our Idaho valley. The river has been so high so late with the delayed spring run-off that we've had to look for other swimming holes. We've taken to going to the local kids swimming hole in the irrigation canal to give her a swim.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Casey Walker wrote 2 years 38 weeks ago

I was gonna say the same as Nebraskahunter18. I live in NW Nebraska and this is the wettest summer I can remember. Water everywhere (and the blood sucking bugs that come with it) My 6 month old lab is loving life this summer.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 38 weeks ago

The city lake near here has just closed again due to e-coli. They blame it on the goose crap but clearly all those subdevelopments with septic systems on bedrock upstream of its source have something to do with it. I haven't seen nearly as many geese in there this year. The other city park on Lake Superior has been closed for two years so the city can build a bunch of condiminiums and a "five-store motel" where the marina was (now downgraded to Super-8 star motel). Our water levels are still up past normal. In spite of the heat we are getting heavy rain frequently.

I can certainly sympathize with all you poor overheated folks down there. The heat drives people to the waterfront and as those dry up the congestion gets worse. Very hard for me to get anything done with my dogs over at the city park. However, in one sense it's a good thing. My dogs are learning to stay under control better in a busy environment. Usually, they go ape when they get out of the car near a lake. Over there they have to stay with me now - too many other people with dogs, kids, rollerblading, etc. They are learning a good lesson in that respect. But like you, I really don't care for an audience when I'm training. It always involves some discipline and I'm not comfortable having others watch me "spank my kids" so to speak.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from RES1956 wrote 2 years 38 weeks ago

Here is something positive. Our city has a large lake that was formerly a driving range called Splash Golf where you hit floating golf balls to floating greens. It was not very prosperous. They are in the process of transforming it into a dog park where you can do water work and field work and don't have to worry about the dog being on a leash unless you so desire. The only problem I forsee is the huge number of resident Canada geese who use the water for resting and the grass for eating. This will be an asset when your working on steadying, I think(?).
I guess that it helps when you have a Mayor who is a duck hunter and dog man. Only in the South,,,,

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from PipersDad06 wrote 2 years 38 weeks ago

I live in Wichita, so I feel your pain Chad. Training sessions are at sunrise and always involve water work for me. I am a Reservist so I go to the local Air Force base which shut down it's golf course several years ago and turned it into an outdoor rec area. So there is plenty of clear water, open space, rolling hills and very little interference from the general public. We do sometimes have an audience from the base police as they patrol by; but most folks who use the area are outdoorsmen so they think its cool to watch the dog work.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Charlie Nichols wrote 2 years 38 weeks ago

Pointing dog training is hard in the heat of summer also as the humidity has been stifling due to all the flooding in the mid-west. When that humidity hits the eastern Appalachian range it is just too hot and humid to work a dog in the evening. The dog is willing but not me. I attempt to get in training with pigeons and quail on the weekends early in the morning.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Coachcl wrote 2 years 38 weeks ago

Other than some days waking up really early to do training and getting the dog cool by the time the heat of the day kicks in. That is about it here. Middle of the day and even up till the afternoon its insanely to hot here in Missouri.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 2 years 38 weeks ago

My big black dawg doesn't even want to get out of the shade if it is 80 degrees or warmer! Spoiled Pacific Northwest retriever. But he will retrieve across frozen ponds and slushy salt marshes without hesitation when it is 20 outside!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 38 weeks ago

We have more water than land here but this year the bugs are absolutely horrendous. So training outside the city at a bush lake is really out of the question.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Duckman1984 wrote 2 years 38 weeks ago

I used to train BellaFi after work. Now I have to take her on my 3mi run in the mornings to get her exercised and back into shape for the winter. Fortunately we live on the river. It might get low but so far it hasn't gone dry.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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from jamesti wrote 2 years 38 weeks ago

triple digits here in new york. over 90 at 8am! no training going on here right now!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from bbainbridge wrote 2 years 38 weeks ago

Now, granted I only swim my wirehair for her own fun and exercise, but we've had somewhat the opposite in our Idaho valley. The river has been so high so late with the delayed spring run-off that we've had to look for other swimming holes. We've taken to going to the local kids swimming hole in the irrigation canal to give her a swim.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Casey Walker wrote 2 years 38 weeks ago

I was gonna say the same as Nebraskahunter18. I live in NW Nebraska and this is the wettest summer I can remember. Water everywhere (and the blood sucking bugs that come with it) My 6 month old lab is loving life this summer.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 38 weeks ago

The city lake near here has just closed again due to e-coli. They blame it on the goose crap but clearly all those subdevelopments with septic systems on bedrock upstream of its source have something to do with it. I haven't seen nearly as many geese in there this year. The other city park on Lake Superior has been closed for two years so the city can build a bunch of condiminiums and a "five-store motel" where the marina was (now downgraded to Super-8 star motel). Our water levels are still up past normal. In spite of the heat we are getting heavy rain frequently.

I can certainly sympathize with all you poor overheated folks down there. The heat drives people to the waterfront and as those dry up the congestion gets worse. Very hard for me to get anything done with my dogs over at the city park. However, in one sense it's a good thing. My dogs are learning to stay under control better in a busy environment. Usually, they go ape when they get out of the car near a lake. Over there they have to stay with me now - too many other people with dogs, kids, rollerblading, etc. They are learning a good lesson in that respect. But like you, I really don't care for an audience when I'm training. It always involves some discipline and I'm not comfortable having others watch me "spank my kids" so to speak.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from RES1956 wrote 2 years 38 weeks ago

Here is something positive. Our city has a large lake that was formerly a driving range called Splash Golf where you hit floating golf balls to floating greens. It was not very prosperous. They are in the process of transforming it into a dog park where you can do water work and field work and don't have to worry about the dog being on a leash unless you so desire. The only problem I forsee is the huge number of resident Canada geese who use the water for resting and the grass for eating. This will be an asset when your working on steadying, I think(?).
I guess that it helps when you have a Mayor who is a duck hunter and dog man. Only in the South,,,,

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from PipersDad06 wrote 2 years 38 weeks ago

I live in Wichita, so I feel your pain Chad. Training sessions are at sunrise and always involve water work for me. I am a Reservist so I go to the local Air Force base which shut down it's golf course several years ago and turned it into an outdoor rec area. So there is plenty of clear water, open space, rolling hills and very little interference from the general public. We do sometimes have an audience from the base police as they patrol by; but most folks who use the area are outdoorsmen so they think its cool to watch the dog work.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Charlie Nichols wrote 2 years 38 weeks ago

Pointing dog training is hard in the heat of summer also as the humidity has been stifling due to all the flooding in the mid-west. When that humidity hits the eastern Appalachian range it is just too hot and humid to work a dog in the evening. The dog is willing but not me. I attempt to get in training with pigeons and quail on the weekends early in the morning.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 2 years 38 weeks ago

My big black dawg doesn't even want to get out of the shade if it is 80 degrees or warmer! Spoiled Pacific Northwest retriever. But he will retrieve across frozen ponds and slushy salt marshes without hesitation when it is 20 outside!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Nebraskahunter18 wrote 2 years 38 weeks ago

Come up north to nebraska and south dakota and you can do your training in 4 foot of water in the road ditches.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Coachcl wrote 2 years 38 weeks ago

Other than some days waking up really early to do training and getting the dog cool by the time the heat of the day kicks in. That is about it here. Middle of the day and even up till the afternoon its insanely to hot here in Missouri.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 38 weeks ago

We have more water than land here but this year the bugs are absolutely horrendous. So training outside the city at a bush lake is really out of the question.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Duckman1984 wrote 2 years 38 weeks ago

I used to train BellaFi after work. Now I have to take her on my 3mi run in the mornings to get her exercised and back into shape for the winter. Fortunately we live on the river. It might get low but so far it hasn't gone dry.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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