Gun Dogs: 3 Keys For Peak Performance

Sporting dogs go extremely hard in the field every fall. To help ensure maximum performance, pay close attention to their food, water supply, shelter, and foot condition among other things. Photo by Lynn Burkhead photo

Follow these three easy post-hunt steps to keep your hunting dog performing at its peak

Dogs that hunt hard burn unbelievable amounts of energy to cover terrain chasing everything from downed ducks to hiding pheasants to cagey bears.

Because of that, there is much more that goes into keeping a sporting dog operating at its peak performance than simply pouring a couple of cups of dry dog food into a bowl and making sure there's enough water to drink.

Feed Them Right

What you feed your sporting dog is perhaps the most important consideration in taking care of a canine companion.

"Food is the key to a dog's success," said Kinlee Denny of The Life at Table Mountain on the Sportsman Channel. "We feed a high-protein, high-fat dog food with all of the nutritional supplements needed to keep them at their peak performance in the field."

Denny says that paying attention to a dog's attitude, their coat, and their stool are key items to watch for a dog owner to ensure that their canine is getting the right food they need.

If a change or adjustment in food is needed, she says to do so gradually. And if hunting, training, stress, diet modification, or some other factor causes a dog to get an upset stomach, Denny says that supplementing some rice and chicken broth can make a digestive system difference.

Keep Their Kennel Comfortable

Other key considerations for a dog owner in taking care of their high performance sporting dog is to make sure that there is clean, dry bedding; a kennel area that is spacious enough to protect a dog from the elements, allows them to rest and relax, and of course, to get adequate sleep for recuperation; and plenty of clean water.

Check Their Feet

Another big key is proper foot care for your sporting dog, particularly if they are chasing predators in the mountains, sharptails and Hungarian partridge in the northern Rockies, quail in Texas and the desert Southwest, pheasants in corn country, or waterfowl in swampy marshes.

"Without their feet, they can't perform," says Denny, noting that a dog's feet should be checked regularly for holes, cuts, scrapes, broken toenails, etc.

Finally, Denny says to remember that working sporting dog or not, these dogs are a part of a hunter's family and should be given plenty of love, care, and attention.

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