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Gun Dogs: A Non-Hunter's Guide to Fulfilling Your Sporting Dog

By    |   Monday, 26 October 2015 05:35 PM

Some gun dogs make particularly good pets even for owners who aren't going hunting, but they'll need to be exercised and entertained to burn off energy.

Labrador retrievers and Brittany spaniels, and even hounds, are really good pets. However, they are wired to be on the move. If those urges aren't satisfied, it could lead to neurotic behaviors such as chewing up a leather couch, eating wallboard, or shredding a shoe collection.

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One way to avoid damage to your home, belongings, and marriage is to seek out ways to help your dog burn off its energy and stay in shape, or simply keep its mind occupied.

Chances are these field sport and apartment game suggestions will be fun for you, too:

Playing fetch is a classic canine pastime, especially for retrievers. Try taking your dog to the waterside. If there is a dock, throw a stick or toy off the end, and encourage your dog to dive in and bring it back. If not, toss the item from the shoreline. Water-loving dogs love this game, and they build stamina by swimming. You get the benefit of working on your arm and back muscles. If there's no water near you, chasing a ball in the park and catching a Frisbee or running around with kids will work just fine.

• Hide treats. Anything that lets a dog put their nose into gear will satisfy the dog’s natural urge to track prey. Try hiding treats in the house or yard. Make holes in snow banks and put dog biscuits inside. This can keep your dog occupied for hours while it uses its hunting urges and its nose and mind.

• Be active. Most hunting dogs are athletes, so fast-moving activities such as jogging, skijoring (when a dog pulls a human wearing skis), and dog carting (similar to a horse-drawn carriage) can help them burn off their energy. The faster and more intense the activity, the more these dogs will thrive on it.

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• Encourage the senses. Since your dog naturally uses its nose to find things, there are a number of games to play to specifically develop this trait, and you can start with a young puppy. First, choose a command word, Dogster recommends, such as “find,” “seek,” or “look,” so that the dog, when it hears those words spoken as a command, will know a game has begun. You can have him pick in which hand you're holding a treat, find something under cups or boxes, or try either in the dark.

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Some gun dogs make particularly good pets even for owners who aren't going hunting, but they'll need to be exercised and entertained to burn off energy.
gun, dogs, non-hunters
Monday, 26 October 2015 05:35 PM
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