Water Training


I don’t have a particularly wet area to train my team to get used to “wet work”. In fact, I would say that most of my training trails are darn dry for most of the cart season. There is a little network of creeks located about 3.5 miles from my yard on one of my trails, then about 11 miles until we reach another watering hole, over Sucker Creek Hill.

So, not too many opportunities to teach the dogs about water. But, we make the most of what we have.

A couple of thoughts on getting your dogs to jump into water, and cross deep, mucky spots.

First off, when it’s hot out, most good dogs love to get into water, just to cool off and get a drink. Point in fact, in August and September I have a hard time getting my guys to not jump in water holes.

Where you start seeing issues is in the fall when it starts to cool off. Not really with the hock deep stuff, but when it gets down around the freezing point and the old watering hole is deep enough that the dogs feet lose touch momentarily (or maybe not so momentarily) with the bottom, your leaders may think about balking.

See, that’s a key issue here, your dog(s) comfort level. In many ways, these guys are just like you in this matter. Say it’s a hot summer day, shorts and t-shirt weather, the creek looks pretty good, right? The idea of hopping into the water is appealing under these circumstances. Now, look at that same creek, but drop the temperature down to the point where you are in full rain gear. How badly do you want to go sit down in the creek now?

Much the same as you, the dogs don’t find this idea to have much appeal either.

During the hotter parts of the fall, they love to jump in the water because they are overheating, but I don’t care how much you swim them in the summer, excessively like Jeff King, or perhaps not at all, it will have no bearing on their desire to get wet once cold weather arrives.

To sum up: after a summer spent jumping in and out of creeks (patting my own back all the while!), I’m in some race in late January when I come around the corner at 3 in the morning and am confronted by an ominous stretch of darkly steaming open water of undetermined depth. It is about thirty below zero and the steam coming from the open water hangs like fog.

My main leader (for instance) Clumber is thinking that he doesn’t want to drag his testicles through this ugly mess any more than his owner does, and the reason he and the rest of the dogs jump in and charge on through has absolutely nothing to do with how much water we had to train in during the summer.

I’ll discuss this with a greater degree of specificity in the next post–

Thanks for tuning in–more to follow….

Image courtesy of H. Barron

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5 Responses to “Water Training”

  1. Marlene Phillips-Daniels Reply April 4, 2011 at 21:13

    HA ! Jason, I used to encourage my 4th graders to write in words that would form “mind pictures” in the reader’s brain. Your mind pictures are always successful. πŸ™‚

    • Thank you, Marlene–I’m glad that you like my mind pictures! I try to keep them “fresh” by changing things up between mushery-y, dog training posts, and excerpts from my various stories. You keep reading, I’ll keep writing!

  2. I couldn’t agree more with Marlene. Your words make the reader feel as though they are there as your shadow. I’m with the dogs though when it comes to water and cold weather but my lab, Xena, is a total nut for water any time of the year. She loves diving for rocks especially the ones so big she can hardly haul them out of the lake. If there’s water she’s in it. I can just see her leading a team of dogs roaring into the water only to slam on the breaks if her eye catches an appealing rock. She even digs for rocks in snow. πŸ™‚

    • Margie, my main female leader, raised from birth, was a fantastic dog named Xena (Alaskan Husky)–she’s led me through Hell & back on more occasions than I can count. Wonderful name for a very tough old girl.

  3. My Xena was the runt of her litter. I had to feed her three times a day when I got her so I wanted her to have a name that would make her a fighter like the Warrior Princess on
    TV. Isn’t it funny how they live up to their names? Their hearts are huge and I rely on her to sense for me what I will never be able to notice.

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