As duck season is now in its final month, the weather over most of the country has gotten cold! I say most of the country because it has been in the high 70s here in southeast Texas this week! As the weather begins to drop, so does the water temperature. Keep in mind that it takes the water longer to warm back up than the air, so often times the water is much colder than the outside temperature.
As you are making these final hunts with your dog this year, here are a few cold weather concerns for your duck dog:
First, consider the condition of your dog’s coat. Dogs that are kept in colder environments and in the colder regions of the country tend to develop thicker coats where as dogs in the south will have thinner coats. If you decide to take your southern dog on a northern hunt, be careful because he is probably not dressed properly! A neoprene vest will help but you still need to make sure he doesn’t get to cold.
Second, ALWAYS make sure that your dog has a dry place to sit or stand while hunting. There are several dog stands on the market today such as the ones by MoMarsh and Wildfowler that will work great! By doing this you will make your dog more comfortable and avoid the risk that he will develop an aversion to cold water.
Thirdly, make sure that your dog does not stay in the water on extremely long or prolonged swims. The longer the dog is swimming, the more body heat he will lose. In extreme conditions you may consider not sending your dog on a real long run to retrieve a cripple. By doing this, you can avoid a chance of him getting hypothermia.
Finally, pay attention to ice! Dogs without dew claws have a much harder time than dogs with dew claws when it comes to climbing from water to ice. There have been many nice dogs that drowned when breaking ice and getting caught under it or simply not being able to get out. Always be on the safe side when it come to ice!
There is no doubt about it. Duck hunting takes place in extreme conditions and great duck dogs can tolerate a lot, but a little common sense goes a long way! Take care of your retriever and he will take care of you! As always, if we can ever be of service to you with either basic retriever training or advanced retriever training, please give us a call.