5 Tips to Prepare Your Dog for Hunting Season

Written by:

PetMD Editorial
Published: December 02, 2014

Hunting Season Prep Guide for Dogs

By A. Forrest Jones, III

Hunting is such a fun and relaxing sport for enthusiasts, especially if they can bring along a dog. However, few take the proper steps to ensure their dog is prepared for the rigors of the hunting season. We spoke with Steve Snell, president of Mississippi-based Gun Dog Supply and an avid hunter, for some tips.  

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1. Watch that Weight

One of the biggest mistakes hunting dog owners make is that they let their dogs gain weight before the hunting season begins. Snell recommends adjusting a dog's diet accordingly during the off-season. "Just like me, my [calorie intake] is based on what my physical activity level is," says Snell. "You don't want to start on opening day of hunting season with a dog that has sat in the backyard for six months."

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2. Start Exercising Early

Being a hunting dog is hard work, and the dog must be in shape to deal with adverse weather forecasts to retrieve game. That means not waiting until hunting season begins to start exercising.


"Generally, the biggest problem we see is that the dogs are not in the physical condition they should be in," says Snell. Dog owners typically need to have their dogs in shape six to eight weeks before hunting season, depending on the dog. 

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3. Visit the Vet

Your dog should undergo a physical checkup from a veterinarian to ensure he or she is fit for hunting activities. A veterinarian may also vaccinate your dog in order protect against certain diseases such as Lyme disease.

Image: Sergey Nivens / Shutterstock

4. Use Flea/Tick Preventives

If you haven't already done so, start your dog on a regimen of flea and tick preventives today! It may not always seem like it but fleas and ticks can be a problem year-round, especially in wooded areas. Discuss with a veterinarian which spot-on treatments or oral medications serves your dog the best. There are even some medications which protect against both fleas and ticks for up to 12 weeks with just a single dose. 

Image: Sascha Preussner / Shutterstock

5. Buy Safety Gear

Dogs can easily be mistaken for game or inadvertently roam into the path of other nearby hunters. Before the start of the hunting season, buy your dog a blaze orange vest and reflective collar (breakaway style) with proper identification. Such an outfit will make him or her easier to see and limit the chances of accidents. Additionally, consider implanting your dog with an identification microchip, which may be the only way to identify the animal should the ID collar fall off.

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