Crate Training and More . . .
If you travel with hunting dogs as I do - any canine pet really - portable, cushioned beds are essential. Good food and fresh water, including a collapsible dish, are also mainstays.
For over 20 years, my English setters have put on many road miles with me. They've been constant companions at home, listening to me read aloud much of the stuff you see in this space as I edit. Their silent judgment is the best anyone could have from a critic.
Mine find fall turkey flocks, scatter them and wait with me, camouflaged at the setup, during the call back for separated either-sex birds in states where it's legal (over 40 at last count). We've covered northern states from Maine to Pennsylvania over the years. It's what we look forward to each season. Upland game birds and ducks also figure into the picture.
Put simply, my dogs just wait for a sign we're going on the road again. And I'm just trying to finish up work so I can join them. To hunt well, near and far, you've got to travel efficiently.
Gun dog puppies respond best to crate training. After bursts of young-dog energy all canine owners know, put them in there for naps. Teach them to kennel up. Show them if they do, rewards such as going out for a run or hunt will result. Pups won't soil where they sleep, so you can house train them after resting, always putting them right outside, and using a verbal command to help them relieve themselves. Ours is: "Go ahead." And they do.
Dog beds help them to relax in the crate as they anticipate fun, nap, or simply use their crate to get away in their own space. Dog beds can be used while your canine is safely secured in the crate as you drive, or even when casually parked, after a hunt or run, in your truck bed or somewhere else nearby.
Realtree dog beds are soft, comfortable and sturdy. Pictured, German Shorthaired Pointer "Tucker" enjoying his.
Carry them in your truck to not only feed your dog but provide water from your vest as you hunt. I tend to have a case of bottled water in my truck for the duration of the season.
Plastic is lighter, so I carry one water bottle for my dog and one for me when traveling, running them in the off-season or out hunting. I fill the collapsible bowl with water then pour what's left back into the bottle. Have I once or twice made the mistake of drinking from a dog's bottle? Yep.
Long trips require pit stops. Those designated roadside rests are fine, though not the healthiest places for dogs since many others like them do their business there. Try to find other rural, legal locations along the way to let your dog relieve itself. Clean up after.
You should always have doggie bags, leashes and other canine gear on hand as well. Do you have any other tips for traveling with your dog? Please comment below.
Realtree.com's Steve Hickoff travels with his English setters year-round.
Editor's note: This blog was first posted July 14, 2016.