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Words by Bob Owens of Lone Duck Outfitters, Gunner Ambassador


The Best Accessory For An Older Hunting Dog

Reunited [with hunting season] and it feels so good! That’s right, we’re back in action and after months of training and preparation, it’s time to get outside and enjoy a hunt with your dog by your side. You know who it may not feel as great for? Your aging hunting buddy. Let me introduce you to my dog, Buck, and why he specifically enjoys his Orthopedic Dog Bed from Gunner so much.

My partnership with Buck started 9 and a half years ago and our work together helped push me to become a professional retriever trainer. I owe a lot to this dog and I’m grateful for him and the countless memories we have together.

Buck has bad arthritis and hip dysplasia, so unfortunately, he is retired from most hunting trips. I still unleash him from retirement here and there, but I have to make sure he’s well taken care of before and after the hunt. Here’s a few things I’ve learned over the years about caring for older dogs who need extra attention and recovery:

Before a Hunt

Prior planning is key. While your ol’ hunting buddy may be sore and arthritic, that doesn’t mean they don’t need proper exercise to keep them at a healthy weight and a nutritional diet.

Since Buck can’t run hard and train every day like he used to, I frequently take him to swim at his own pace for exercise. This is great for him because it’s low-impact, keeps him moving and he enjoys it.

I don’t toss an excessive amount of bumpers for him because he is bound to overdo it. Just make sure your dog has consistent, low-impact exercise to stay healthy. It is also important to maintain the dog’s body weight and not allow them to become obese. Many older dogs gain weight due to lack of exercise, over-feeding, and the (not so) occasional treats. We tend to shower them with love and treats in their old age but the extra pounds can do significant damage to their joints and overall well-being.

Strategize your Hunt

Earlier I mentioned how I like to bring Buck out of retirement on special occasions and that’s the trick: special occasions only. I make sure that I’m going on a shorter, more “tame” hunt where Buck doesn’t have to over exert himself. For example, he’ll hunt great in the warmer, early season temperatures and out of our boat versus a nasty, stick-infested marsh. If you’re hunting with a friend and their dog, maybe have their dog pick up the bird that sails off 400 yards and your older dog snags the ones dropped in the decoys… they were probably your birds, anyway.

Personally, I know that Buck’s body may have slowed down but his drive and desire to chase birds and retrieve has not and I’m sure it’s similar with your dog, too. Keep that in mind. It’s your job to think strategically because they won’t. Keep it simple and keep it safe.

After a Hunt

When the decoys are put away, the gear is packed up and reminiscing over the hunt begins, my dog can be pretty sore and want to sleep quite a bit. Because of that, I make sure he is as comfortable as possible, so I have him sleep on his dog bed from Gunner. It’s specially designed with 2 inches of memory foam, which supports his sore hips and elbows and allows him to recover without inflaming pressure points. The bed also fits perfectly inside his Gunner Intermediate kennel so he is able to relax in his own space and rest easy.

When the decoys are put away, the gear is packed up and reminiscing over the hunt begins, my dog can be pretty sore and want to sleep quite a bit. Because of that, I make sure he is as comfortable as possible, so I have him sleep on his dog bed from Gunner. It’s specially designed with 2 inches of memory foam, which supports his sore hips and elbows and allows him to recover without inflaming pressure points. The bed also fits perfectly inside his kennel so he is able to relax in his own space and rest easy.

*Pro tip: I’m sure your dog gets a little wet and dirty when hunting, be sure to wash the kevlar liner to keep it in mint condition.

Chances are, your veteran dog has put on a lot of miles, retrieved a few straps of birds and been by your side through a number of adventures. You owe it to them to have their best interest in mind. Be sure to take care of them by properly fueling them with nutrition and exercise, be strategic about your hunting plans and allow them to recover like they deserve.

Lone Duck Outfitters is a professional gun dog training outfit that provides a community for all who share a passion for The Unspoken Bond. Learn more about the Owens brothers’ operation here.

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