The Gun Dog Fitness Plan

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Want to get in shape? Get a dog. Want to get in better shape? Get a gun dog.

There are countless studies that prove humans with a dog are more apt to get off their rumps when there is a dog in their life. This fact was proven to me recently when after an act of mild stupidity I ended up in a cast from my foot to my knee for over a month. Suddenly my two-mile morning walk with Pritch was no longer an option, and any serious evening training we planned on was on hiatus. Not surprisingly, I gained 5 pounds before the cast came off. My pants didn't want to button, and my faithful belt-buckle hole slipped to the right in favor of a more lenient fit.

And while walks don't nearly constitute my training regimen with Pritch they do offer the perfect time to work on some gun dog basics. Heel is an obvious example. But I also have Pritch Place on any object that resembles a duck swamp stand, like the stumps of old trees and, here in Charleston, stepping stones for carriages. When we reach city parks I let her off leash and we practice hunting close. It's also a perfect time for obedience work.

And when you've got a puppy, a walk around the woods is an invaluable lesson. The young dog learns to explore, finds an array of new scents, and can often be taught the Here command, especially if you have a few treats in your pocket. Those first walks with a pup are some of my favorites.

No doubt my pup makes me more active. And lately I've been adding very short runs to our walks…I'm not running far, but I'm working my way up…and I can promise you it's farther than I would run before I brought home Pritch. Good for my ticker and good for endurance in the field.

Anyone one else in better shape because of your gun dog? -- David DiBenedetto, Man's Best Friend Blogger