It’s August, and now is a good time to finalize road trips you’ll soon be taking with your gun dog. Just like you, your hunting dog needs to have all the gear, food and first aid supplies ready for travel.
If you are traveling to other states or Canada, make sure your dog is up to date on rabies and any other vaccinations that may be required or recommended. If you’re hunting in Canada, you’ll need a current health certificate that is issued by your vet.
You’ll also want to be sure to get a first aid kit ready for your dog. It should include all medications, plus bandages, tape, gauze and ear/eye ointments the dog might need. Don’t forget to include anti-inflammatory, joint, and pain relief medicines.
Before hitting the road, make a list of veterinary clinics in the areas where you’ll be traveling. Check for locations that are open after normal work hours and on weekends, since that is when most hunting takes place. Keep the phone numbers of those locations easily accessible so you can immediately contact the clinic when you’re in the field should an emergency develop. If your dog tangles with a porcupine, tears a pad or requires immediate attention, you don’t want to waste valuable time searching for a pet hospital.
If your dog travels in a kennel, make sure the kennel is firmly secured so it doesn’t slide around on the bed of your truck. I find that a Gunner kennel is hard to beat. Taking a blanket or sheet to put on hotel beds and furniture is handy since it will help keep those surfaces clean. You’ll also want to take along a supply of grubby towels for the dogs, especially for times when it’s wet and muddy where you’re hunting.
Don’t forget to take food and water bowls. I’ve been using Yeti’s Boomer Bowls since they first came out. The stainless-steel bowl is the most durable one I’ve used, and it is ideal for rugged road travel. The non-slip bottom is perfect, and the bowl is easy to clean. It’s also a nice bowl to use for water since it helps keep the water cool. Both of my dogs have these bowls, and I’ve never had to replace them. Be sure that you also take along plenty of water for your dog.
When you’re traveling with dog food, I suggest using the new Gunner Food Crate to keep it fresh (whether in the original bag or just in the crate). I’ve been using the 30-pound crate for six months, and I love it. It’s tough and portable, and it’s also water-, dust- and odor-proof. It also fends off moisture, UV light, rancid conditions and potential mold. It is constructed with a nylon lid, a draw-style lockable latch and elevated rubber feet. The Food Crate 30 protects dog food from adverse temperatures, too, which helps reduce the potential risk of bacteria contaminating your dog food.
If you’re a fan of treats, I find great choices for the road include freeze-dried foods (for use in the field) and raw or canned foods that can be used as toppers. Freeze-dried foods don’t leave oil in your pockets and are a great protein source. Food toppers offer a fun, healthy change for your dog’s diet. Large cow bones, gambrel tendons, and bully sticks are good to bring on road trips, too. Your dog will thank you.
If you have a selection of leashes and collars for your dog, bring them along. I have a one-foot leash I like using when walking in populated areas and around other dogs where immediate obedience is a must. I use a three-foot leash in small areas, and an eight-foot leash in open areas where I can give the dog a bit more freedom while still maintaining control.
Some of my buddies keep a short, four-inch-long rope on their dog’s collars, or you can get a tab leash. These are short leashes that are great for quick control of your dog, be it in the field, walking them through public parking areas as you head into or out of a hunting area, or escorting them into a vet’s office.
It’s a good idea to bring an extra collar along as well. I like collars with a built-in reflective strip. They allow me to see the collar in the dark with I shine my flashlight beam at them. I have my collars custom-engraved with the word “reward” on it, along with three phone numbers: my cell number, my wife’s cell number and our home phone number. Do not engrave your dog’s name on any collar as you don’t want someone picking them up and knowing their name. This is how many dogs come to be successfully stolen. If a dog is lost, you want someone to call so you can get your dog back and pay them for their efforts.
Finally, don’t forget dog vests, your E-collar, remote control and charger, as well as a hairbrush and nail clippers. Nail clippers are a great tool to trim splitting nails. A brush might be needed multiple times a day to remove noxious seeds.
When you plan your gun dog’s travel list, it’s likely to be longer than you may have expected. This truly shows the importance of being organized when you pack for the field so you don’t forget something. Your dog is your hunting partner, and it needs you to make sure they have everything they need when they hit the road with you in hunting season.
Note: To watch Scott Haugen’s series of puppy training videos, visit www.scotthaugen.com. Follow Scott on Instagram & Facebook.