With hunting seasons either already started or rapidly approaching, getting your dog in peak physical condition will go a long way to making sure he’s ready and able to carry out the rigors of hunting, suffers less soreness after the hunt, reduces his chances of injury and just flat-out enjoys himself!

With that said, there are many ways to get your dog (and yourself) into shape. Running, whether beside you (if you’re one to get in shape) or by roading (running behind/beside an ATV, often dragging/carrying weight) is one way to do it. While effective, it can lead to injuries and overheating.

The best exercise you can give your dog is to swim him. Throwing retrieves or just free swimming is a low-impact, resistance excersice that won’t overheat your dog or cause it joint/impact-issues.

A rule of thumb is: an IN SHAPE dog should be able to swim as far/as long as it can run.

The caveat is IN SHAPE. To get them in shape in the first place though, you have to start somewhere. That starting point is today, if you haven’t already begun a conditioning program, and just like humans, starts slowly and gradually.

Short swims with rest and more swimming will quickly get your dog in tip-top shape. Gradually increase the duration and repetitions of swims over the next couple of weeks.