Whatever species of bird you’re hunting this fall, bringing your dog cuts your work in half or more. You also get to spend time in the great outdoors with the perfect companion, your hunting dog and watch them use all their skills to pursue the birds.


Before you head out to the water or field for a day of hunting, you'll want to ensure your dog is in peak physical condition. Bird hunting is tough, no matter what kind of bird you pursue. Hunting with an out-of-shape dog can injure your best canine pal. Conditioning your dog can take months, so it's best to keep them from getting out of shape in the first place by keeping them active all year round.


At Canvasworks, dogs are a big part of our family – and our family-owned canvas company. We offer high-quality dog training tools including dog ramps, bird bags, and duck hoods. We’ve personally tested all our dog training products and use them throughout the year when training and conditioning our dogs. In this post, we will review a few basic conditioning practices every hunter should follow throughout the year to keep their dog in peak condition.

Keep Your Dog at a Healthy Weight With the Right Food

Asking an overweight dog to start a strenuous exercise program is asking for an injury, so you'll want to ensure your dog is at a healthy weight before beginning your conditioning program. Talk to your vet about your dog's body condition score at their yearly exam. Otherwise, you can review the Body Condition Score Chart to determine whether or not your dog is at a healthy weight. If they are overweight, consider switching them to low-calorie food during the off-season. Then, once the season starts and they're expending a lot of energy, you can change them back to a higher-calorie food if needed. 

Have a Regular Exercise Routine

Daily exercise will help your dog build the endurance necessary for hunting. Start with easy walks twice daily if your dog is out of shape. Then, as they become more fit, you can incorporate longer walks and running into the routine. Of course, if you'd prefer not to run, you can always ride a bike or, if you live in the country, drive an ATV or UTV while your dog runs beside you.


Retrieving, both on land and water offers the benefit of brushing up on your dog's retrieving skills and exercising them. While you're playing fetch with your dog, work on basic obedience and other simple commands. One sure way to ruin a hunt is with an out-of-control dog, so take a little time to brush up on your dog's skills before the season starts.


No matter what exercise you choose to do with your dog, keep a close eye on your dog to ensure you aren't overtaxing him. As we all know, dogs, especially young ones, don't know their limits and can easily overdo it. This is especially important in the summer when temperatures and humidity can easily lead to a dog overheating.


Don't forget to warm your dog up slowly and cool them down after a workout. Dogs, just like humans, need to warm up to prevent injury, and a slow cool-down helps prevent soreness from exercise.

Sign up for an Off-Season Sport

If you're not a fan of running as your primary source of exercise, consider signing your dog up for a performance sport during the off-season. Field trials and hunt tests use many of the same skills your dog needs on the hunting field, but any sport can be a valuable addition to your conditioning program. Agility, Rally, and dock diving are just a few fun sports you can enjoy with your dog during the off-season.

Contact the Experts at Canvasworks Today!

Let us help you get your dog ready for the hunting season! From our Dogs-Up Ramp, designed to protect your dog’s joints, to our bird bags that are perfect for carrying your training gear, we offer a variety of dog training tools.


If you’re ready to order your Dogs-Up Ramp, bird bag, or duck hoods, give us a call at 320-559-0165 or send us an email at sales@canvasworksincmn.com. Best of luck in your hunt!