A Bowhunting Year
People measure years in different ways. Most Americans’ year begins on Jan. 1 and ends Dec. 31. This is known as a calendar year, abbreviated as CY. Others, like the military and legislatures, order time from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. The federal government calls this its fiscal year, or FY.
In China, the first day of the new year falls on the new moon between Jan. 21 and Feb. 20. In 2017, the first day of the Chinese New Year was Jan. 28.
If your surname is Blando, Golem, Dumke, or countless others who hunt deer with a bow and arrow, you probably operate on what I call a “bowhunting year” or BY. Now, it’s tough to decide when the BY actually begins, but since I don’t think anyone has determined that yet, I say it starts on OPENING DAY. I capitalized those two words not to shout at you but because of the truly magical significance of this day, at least to those in the aforementioned households.
Now I understand that “opening day” means different things to different people. To some it means the first Milwaukee Brewers home game — which is also really important. To others it means opening day of fishing on the first Saturday in May, and for others it might mean opening day of the deer gun season — although we generally refer to that as the “gun opener.” I assume you are reading this on or around the bow opener, and for bowhunters, opening day always means the first day of archery season, which is normally on the second or third Saturday of September. This year, the BY begins on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017 and it ends Sept. 14, 2018.
In the Blando deer camp, the night before opening day marks the end of the previous bowhunting year but also serves as a celebratory day to ring in the new BY. It is a celebration of all the hard work preparing for opening day. It’s a celebration of the thousands of arrows sent downrange to ensure, if the opportunity presents itself, a clean kill of an unsuspecting buck or doe. It’s a celebration of the countless hours spent maintaining existing roads, trails and food plots and clearing new ones. It’s a celebration of large chunks of well-spent time scouting, maintaining and moving stands, and setting up new ones. Finally, it’s the celebration of the new relationships made and the old relationships strengthened with family and friends throughout the BY.
In our camp, there is a palpable excitement as we awake on opening morning, far earlier than we need to, to get ready for that first morning hunt. No one hits the snooze button that day, and almost everyone wakes up before the alarm is anywhere near sounding off. Based on wind direction, we’ve all decided the night before where we are going to hunt, and each of us lies awake most of the night, thinking through different scenarios of that trophy buck sneaking past our stands or meandering within range through one of our food plots.
We dress in our scent-free clothing, put on our safety harnesses and grab our well-tuned bows with brand new arrows and razor-sharp broadheads. Then we huddle up for a quick picture and wish each other well as three generations of Blandos head out to our favorite stands to begin another BY.
As we walk to our stands, well before dawn, we listen to the sounds of the nocturnal animals, birds and insects, and we take in the smells of the early falling cottonwood and poplar leaves beginning to decompose. We sniff the white pines and the effervescent smell of black walnuts that have recently fallen to earth to begin their decomposition and regeneration process. We are bowhunters, and at this point we feel omnipotent. We experience a feeling of peace and a sense that everything in our world is perfectly aligned. At this moment, we have no doubt whatsoever that God is with us.
We climb into our stands and connect our safety harnesses to the pre-installed strap. We disconnect our quivers and hang them on the equipment hooks. Then we nock our favorite arrow (I actually name mine) and hang our bows on the bow hooks also previously installed.
Then, we each sit down and send a text to all others in the hunting party to indicate that we are set. Finally, we await the moments at dawn when the woods transition from the nocturnal to the diurnal. This is a magical time to reflect on how blessed we truly are to have received the gift of the outdoors. In our family, it is a chance to reflect on this perpetual gift that our father, Sam Blando, gave to us when we were very young and continues to share with us each bowhunting year.
When the morning hunt ends, we gather back at camp to swap stories of the adventures and experiences of each hunter. We then cook bacon and eggs on the Coleman stove and then, after cleanup, settle in for a short outdoor nap before the start of the Wisconsin Badgers football game. After a Badgers win, we slip back into our camouflage, grab our gear, take another picture to memorialize opening day, and then head out for the evening hunt.
This cycle repeats itself again and again most weekends until the first Sunday of January, when the hunting portion of a bowhunting year ends. Even though we’ve just endured some pretty tough conditions during the late season, it’s always a sad day when the sun goes down on that final hunting day.
We know that it is not yet over as we still have over eight months left in the BY. In January, February and March, we will spend our time on a multitude of tasks — cleaning, organizing and storing our gear, maintaining the stands, cutting brush, and fixing our small bridges over the creeks in the now frozen marshes.
In April and May, usually while turkey hunting, we will spend many hours scouting deer while looking for shed antlers and analyzing our trail cams to see which deer made it through the winter and the previous fall’s hunting seasons.
Summer comes, and the excitement and anticipation begins to build as we know we are just a few months from the beginning of yet another bowhunting year. After a summer of clearing brush, disking, tilling, planting and fertilizing existing and new food plots, we are now just a few short weeks from opening day.
And then, just like Christmas morning, OPENING DAY arrives, as it does every year. And just like Christmas, it arrives bearing physical, emotional and spiritual gifts. We will once again feel omnipotent, with a total sense of peace because everything is right with the world. Like at Christmas, we will once again feel and see the presence of our God in all that He created in the great outdoors.
At Badger Sportsman, we wish you a safe and bountiful opening day and a magical and peaceful bowhunting year.
History comes alive in this scenic maritime community on Lake Michigan’s coast
Port Washington, with its touch of New England charm, is nestled on the Wisconsin shore of Lake Michigan just north of Milwaukee. You’re invited to take some time to see all this harbor town has to offer.
As for the fishing – it is unsurpassed, even year-round. Fishing from shore – or from the breakwall leading to the art deco lighthouse – is popular for anglers of all ages. In the fall, anglers line the walkway at Fisherman’s Park and the banks of Sauk Creek to try their luck at catching the salmon swimming upstream.
In winter, the promenade at Coal Dock Park is full of hardy anglers fishing where the warm water outlet from the power plant is discharged. It keeps the water ice free and attracts many species of fish. Port Washington has an excellent reputation for sport fishing, whether you head out with one of our charter captains or launch your own boat. On any given day, people are bringing in salmon, steelhead, lake trout and brown trout.
One of the reasons for this reputation is due to the lakebed topography offshore. You can reach the deep water much more quickly here than in other harbors, due to the lake floor dropping off rapidly closer to shore. This allows anglers to actually spend more time fishing and less time and gas motoring out to deep water. If you want to know conditions before you head out, call the toll-free Fishing Hotline provided by Great Lakes Sport Fishermen at 866.516.2796.
Port Washington features two fishing derbies every summer, with great prizes, good food, and even music. The recent Great Lakes Sport Fishing Tournament was held June 29 to July 1. The Port Washington Lions Club also sponsors a tournament along with their annual Lionsfest, which is scheduled August 3-5. Not only do you have a chance to compete with other fisherman for big prize money and bragging rights, but you’ll be supporting two non-profit organizations that benefit Port Washington and its sport fishing industry.
Now, for the more adventurous, there is spear-fishing! Yes, you read that correctly. There’s something to be said for putting on your SCUBA gear, grabbing your spear gun and jumping into Lake Michigan to go fishing!
Did you know the state Department of Natural Resources allows lawful use of spears and spear guns by skin and scuba diving in all waters where spearing for rough fish is permitted from sunrise to sunset during the listed spearing seasons? One of the more popular fish that we like to spear is the Burbot (Lota lota). They live in and around the shipwrecks located in Lake Michigan and are very delicious to eat! Stop in or call Port Deco Divers at 262.268.8400 to schedule your next charter to go spear fishing.
Fishing in Port Washington in the future can possibly be even better than it is now. There is a group in Port Washington called Shipwreck Education and Preservation Alliance, a 501c(3) organization actively working to create a better fish habitat. The group’s master plan is to develop a public access into Lake Michigan that will be donated to the City of Port Washington. Additionally, this project will create multi-level depths of artificial reefs that will help improve the aquatic environment. By establishing these artificial reefs, it gives the fry fish a habitat to live in when they are released into Lake Michigan.
This initiative will also aid in the education and research projects for schools and colleges to study the native and invasive species in Lake Michigan, and will serve as a model for other communities of the Great Lakes region. To learn more or to help, visit shipwreckeducationandpreservationalliance.com.
Downtown Port Washington
The downtown is lakeside and within walking distance from the marina, which is appreciated by boaters and fishermen. Downtown offers unique dining destinations – many housed in historic storefronts. There are numerous pubs to toast your successful catch, including a micro-winery, and restaurants where you can grab a bite to eat after time on the lake. All are locally owned, and very different in their offerings.
Whether you are in the mood for a brewpub, BBQ, Mexican, Italian, deli, supper club fare, or even fresh farm-to-table, you’ll find all of these options in downtown Port Washington. Relax and enjoy: inside, outside, lakeside, or streetside. And if you’re the type that likes a stroll with homemade ice cream after dinner, you’ll find that as well. Saturdays also feature a popular lakeside beer garden, with food and music.
You may not normally shop when you are in town for a fishing trip. But Port doesn’t have just the typical, touristy shops. Ewig Brothers is a fish market that can smoke, and even ship, your catch for you. The market has been in the same family for over 75 years, so they know how to do it right!
Include a stop into Bernies old fashioned meat market. Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s worth it for the smell. Duluth Trading Company is popular outdoor gear store in town, with a second, Sherper’s, slated to open later this summer. Plus, if you are here on a Saturday, you can pick up some fresh food at the downtown farmers market.
While you are walking around the downtown, you probably noticed the interesting architecture and age of some of the buildings. Port Washington can boast more pre-Civil War buildings than any other city in the State of Wisconsin. Several of these have been beautifully restored by the Port Washington Historical Society and are definitely worth a visit.
The 1860 Light Station, situated atop the hill near St. Mary’s Catholic Church on Johnson Street, offers tours every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from Memorial Day weekend through mid-October. Hours are noon to 4 p.m., and the $5 admission fee is well worth the tour.
The lighthouse proper has been restored to its glory days of the 1800s and the guided tour gives you a short history lesson in living in that era and what it was like to work as a lightkeeper. The climb to the lantern room and view from the tower are spectacular. On the grounds of the Light Station you can learn about the many maritime artifacts displayed, and in the little white building in the back of the lighthouse is a small maritime museum full of information and artifacts on local lore and area shipwrecks.
Another building in downtown, the Barnum Blake Building on North Franklin Street, was purchased by the Port Washington Historical Society several years ago. Built in 1852 by one of the city’s leading entrepreneurs of the day, this structure had been used as a general store, a jewelry store, and many other merchants have inhabited it over the 150-plus years of its existence.
When they peeled back all the layers of paint, carpeting, fluorescent lighting and other modern touches that had been added over the years, we found stunning hardwood floors and stamped tin ceilings, which were preserved. This is the Historical Society’s main office and serves as the Resource Center. The present exhibit is about local World War I veterans and their stories. The Resource Center is open Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays from 1 to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Historical Society’s most recent restoration is the Henry & Hill Building, which was built in 1907 as a club for local businessmen. The original bowling lanes, marked by different types and shades of wood, have been preserved on the first floor, as well as the beautiful brick walls and façade. Now known as the Port Exploreum, it’s located at 118 N. Franklin St. and is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. As the Historical Society’s history and maritime museum, the main exhibit changes about every 12 months and presently displays the history of some of the residents of the area during the late 1800s.
The maritime aspect of the Port Exploreum is a permanent attribute. Called the Lake Michigan Table, it is an interactive, real-time display of the entire Lake, showing what vessels are sailing, weather conditions, and history of various ports along its shore. There is also a wonderful lower level created especially for children and their families, with interactive games related to the lake and ecology.
Plan your Lake Michigan fishing trip or vacation with our visitor’s resource guide for hotels, bed and breakfasts, shopping, events, farmers markets, lakefront festivals and more. Once you are here, make sure to stop by the historic Pebble House Visitor Center for more information. And don’t forget your camera – there are breath-taking views everywhere you look.
Kyle Sorensen with OB Outdoors talks about the benefits of using the I-Pilot feature on your minnkota trolling motor specifically for trolling! Don’t miss out on the LIVE CATCH during the interview!
SPY Cameo Sunglasses Review
As hunters, fishermen and outdoor lovers, we all need good glasses to protect us from the sun. We spend a lot of time covering the best of the best for men, but we thought it was time to show you what to buy the ladies so that they’ll tag along with you on your future fishing trips (if you want). The SPY Cameo sunglasses are some of the best out there for women.
SPY Cameo Sunglasses
SPY makes some of the greatest angling and outdoor optics available so it’s no surprise that they make stylish and practical glasses for women as well. The SPY Cameo sunglasses fit tight and feature the Happy lens and are available with polarized lenses as well. They allow anyone to get a good look at the water and hit their spots when casting a fly at a finicky trout.
SPY sunglasses review
The Cameo won’t only turn heads with the fish you’re landing, but it’ll also turn heads on the street. These shades are made for “trail to tavern” so you can wear them anywhere. They come in an assortment of frame and lens colors and offer a sleek, versatile look.
SPY Cameo Review
The lenses are SPY’s patented Happy Lens, which help foster and uplift in mood and energy. They boost optical clarity and have SPY’s Trident polarization. As always, the frames are durable and built to withstand all the elements without looking clunky or beat up.
SPY Ejack Hunt Sunglasses
Eric Jackson is a star on the mountain and a force to be reckoned with on the water, so it’s no surprise that SPY Optics would make his own signature sunglasses for the best of everything outdoors. As a pro snowboarder, Eric relies on SPY’s goggles every day and when he’s not on the mountain, he’s on the water fishing where he needs his SPY Hunt Sunglasses.
The most versatile frames that SPY has to offer come with the Hunt glasses. The new Ejack Hunt sunglasses are the only SPY sunglasses to have Happy Lens Technology in the new Trident polarized Rose base lens with the awesome Green/Gold Spectra mirror coating. What that means is that you can look great while fishing all day and your eyes are not going to give you any trouble.
Any serious angler knows that you need the best in polarization for fly fishing and Eric Jackson is no exception. The lenses in the SPY Ejack Hunt sunglasses enhance clarity, definition and color during mid day fishing or early mornings.
SPY’s Hunt sunglasses feature a frame that is comfortable and stylish. The molded grips are not glued so you don’t have to worry about anything falling apart. They fit perfect to your head and won’t fall off with a quick movement and they are very lightweight. On top of that, you can bend them, sit on them and they offer pin hinges that add durability in case you shove them in a tight space.
Having a good pair of polarized fishing sunglasses is the most important piece of equipment for a serious angler. SPY’s Ejack Hunt model gives you everything you need to stay on the water longer and see the fish you’re hitting with that dry fly from further upstream.
Bay of Green Bay Walleye
By: Jeff Boutin
Opening day of fishing season is upon us. Even though summer does not officially start until June 21st, I have always considered the first Saturday in May the start of my summer season. I, as well as anglers from all over the state, will head out to their favorite lakes and rivers in pursuit of the most sought after fish in the Midwest…walleye! My favorite place just so happens to be, the Bay of Green Bay.
The Bay can be a very intimidating body of water. When you head out to any one of the boat launches located around the lower portion of the Bay, the parking lot will be full of boat trailers but all you will see is miles and miles of open water and only a few boats in sight. Even though the surface looks the same as far as the eye can see, it’s what’s lurking below it that all of us are after.
Most anglers who come up to the Bay struggle with where to fish and which presentations to use. Either they setup near the boat launch, or they head out in the direction other boats are heading also looking for a group of boats. When they find them, they throw a few lures in the water and start trolling. Well that’s a good start, but most people spend countless hours on the water only to go home disappointed. We’ve all been there.
Here are a few tips and tools that will make you a more successful angler. First and foremost, you will need a good GPS locator. I prefer the Humminbird Helix series locators. They are high definition and very easy to use for the average angler. For those of you that are more experienced, the upgraded units are equipped with Side and Down Imaging. The next thing you will need is a map chip for your GPS. The Lake Master chip is made for your Humminbird unit and can highlight different depths of water making it easier to see the areas you may want to fish. This is going to show you where the structures are, eliminating the areas without structure and water that is deeper than 20 ft. That just eliminated 90% of the water! I recommend a set of trolling rods with line counter reels, spooled with 10 lb. to 12 lb. monofilament line. I suggest a quality set of planer boards. I use Churches Tackle TX-22 boards simply because they are of high quality, they cut through the water nicely, and when you stop, they won’t fall over and tangle up your lines. The last piece of equipment is a Minn Kota trolling motor. Most fishing boats sold today come with one mounted to the bow. They work so well, it’s almost standard to have a Minn Kota on your bow. When the Minn Kota trolling motor is equipped with I-Pilot, you will be able to fish and let the I-Pilot steer your boat for you. Just set a course, set the speed, and fish, it’s that easy.
Now for the fun part; catching the fish. We’ve reviewed the Lake Master maps so now we can focus on the areas we want to fish. In May, the walleye tend to feed on the rocky reefs and the areas with shallow weeds. The baits of choice in these areas are the Flickershad. Start out with the basics; purple, chartreuse, maybe a gray or white. Since it is early and the bait fish are small, use number 5’s and 7’s. It is a good idea to get the trolling app. This will assist you in determining at which depth the bait will run. The App will tell you how much line to let out in order to get your bait to a certain depth. For example, a number 7 Flickershad with 30’ feet of line let out will dive down 6 feet. With 40 feet of line, the Flickershad will dive down 8 feet. Speed will not affect the depth at which the lure will dive. You will attach the Churches Tackle planer board after you let out your set distance of line. The next part is speed. Since the waters are cold in May, you are not going to want to troll too fast. Keep your speed between 1.3 and 1.7 mph changing it often until you find a speed the fish prefer.
When setting your lines, start out with several colors and set them at various depths. Be careful not to set your baits too low in the water column. Walleye feed up and you do not want to put your bait underneath them. As you work your way over and through different reefs and humps and that first board goes back, make sure you keep track of the depth the bait was running. In addition, note your speed and hit a waypoint. This will be your first waypoint of many. Troll another 5-10 minutes and if you have not gotten another bite either turn around, if it is not windy, or pick up and go back to make another pass. The biggest mistake I see anglers make is when they catch a fish they just keep on going and do not return to that spot. This is your chance to make your first adjustment. Set a few more baits at or near that depth and make that pass right over the same spot. If you catch more fish, repeat the process and make another adjustments to your presentation, color. If the fish bit on the same color, add a few more of that color. Continue to refine your presentation until either you can’t keep your lines in the water, or they quit biting. If they quit biting, move on until you find the next bite. Sometimes you will have to go back to different depths and colors until you get something to work.
Another place you can find these fish is shallow. Yes, I did say shallow, 2 to 3 feet shallow. On bright days, in the mid to late mornings, the sun is warming up the shallows. Walleye will head into these waters even if the water is crystal clear, it’s warmer, and it only needs to be 4 to 5 degrees warmer. This is when your planer board comes in handy. I’ll run my closest planer board 100 to 150 feet from the boat. These fish will spook easy, so being stealthy is critical. Using the Minn Kota is really important. In this case, you are only going to put 6 to 8 feet of line out behind your planer board. These areas are generally sandy and you want the front lip of the bait to either tick or slightly dig right into the sand. This will help entice a strike. These fish are not the same fish as the ones you were finding on the reefs. These are generally the larger females coming into the shallows to feed. It is very important to keep your distance, if these fish even see a shadow from your boat, they will be gone!
Another bait I like to use is the Team-Outdoors inline blade attractor. They come in 10 different colors and 4 different sizes. These are attached to your line about 12 inches above the crankbait. These will attach to your line without tying a knot or cutting your line. Crankbaits rattle, and wiggle, but they don’t always have flash. The attractor blades are either a #3 Colorado or a #3 willow blade. This adds additional flash and vibration to your crankbaits without affecting the depth or action of the bait. If I pass over fish and they are hesitant to bite, I usually add these to a few of my lines. If the waters are a little murky, again this is a great way to add flash to your presentation.
Time spent on the water is always special, so enjoy it, have fun, and most importantly, be safe.
I’ll see you on the water,
Captain Jeff Boutin
Raising dogs…slowing down speeds things up
By: Jeremy Moore
As a professional dog trainer, I’ve been able to work with various breeds of a large number of dogs over the years, ranging from 7 week-old puppies to dogs as old as 10 years or more. I strongly believe that one of the only ways to get better at anything, whether you’re talking dog training specifically or life in general, is to put in the work. And more times than not, the whole “work” part is where things start to get hard! Thankfully, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to put that work in when it comes to the dogs. And, consequently, I know I have gotten a lot better as the years passed. As I have personally improved, the dogs have mirrored that improvement as well. Today, I can say with strong confidence that when I have a chance to work with a puppy or dog, I will be a positive influence on them and my hope is they are better off because of it as well.
But what about the people when it comes to training? I think that one of the most overlooked factors when it comes to training, or as I prefer to say, “raising” dogs or pups, is the importance of what the trainer brings to the equation. One of the most desirable traits all dogs possess is that they want to please and are naturally looking for a strong leader. That is simply how they are wired. On the opposite hand, one trait that they also have because of this wiring is if they don’t find a leader they will become the leader.
The great majority of training topics and articles I have written over the years and have read for that matter, have revolved around dogs in the field and how we prepare them for “the hunt”. It’s the hunt that is the most fun to talk about. It’s the hunt that is the most exciting. And why not? I mean, the hunt is what so many of us have as the end goal right? The hunt is the fun part, and in all reality the hunt is what comes the easiest for most dogs. Hunting has been bred into them for centuries and is relatively natural. As their handler, our job is to simply bring it out. It’s the other stuff, beyond or before the hunt, that most struggle with and typically that is the reason things fall short.
Although the majority of what I have read and written about has focused on the hunt, what’s interesting to me is that the great majority of questions I receive by phone call, text, posts or direct message on the various social platforms, and even when face to face at seminars and shows is centered around the basics. It seems most struggles and headaches are not due to dogs that won’t handle well on challenging doubles and blind retrieves. It’s rare that I am asked what to do when your dog stops to the whistle out beyond 100 yards but doesn’t want to face you in order to take a good hand signal. (Recall the dog a step or two in order to square them up, stop them again and then cast…btw) Instead, the questions that come up over and over are almost always related to their dog’s foundation, or more accurately their lack of foundation.
Now, I’m certain that the direction this article is taking following that last line will have some folks turning the page. Nowhere ever, have I read about the idea of “foundation” being described as exciting, fun, easy, or the overall end goal. But the truth is, most struggles are directly connected and the majority of dog owner’s struggles are rooted there. I also find that the reason most struggle with the foundation is because they just don’t know how or what to do in most situations.
One of the most commonly asked questions I get about our dogs is, “How do you keep your dogs calm?” This question usually comes when I have multiple dogs ranging in age lying quietly at our feet on their “place” amongst a lot of distractions. I am asked constantly how to handle pups that are just full of energy? I hear about how their dogs must need to have more exercise than others but because of work, kids, school…the list goes on, all the reasons they just can’t seem to do enough to wear them out. I’m asked how much time I spend running my dogs in order for them to always seem to be calm and under control. The reality is, I wish I were able to run and exercise them more. In fact, it’s likely that I might give the dogs I’m training less physical exercise than the dogs of those asking the question.
So, what’s the difference? I think the difference lies greatly in the culture that the dog is being raised in. Here is an easy idea to understand- a dog’s body is no different than the human body when it comes to their athletic conditioning. The more you exercise, the greater your endurance becomes. The greater your endurance, the longer it takes you to tire or wear out. Why would this be any different with your dog? In an attempt to physically “wear them out,” they are actually conditioning them to simply be better athletes which will in turn take more to tire them. It’s a snowball effect, in the wrong direction.
See maybe if this example sounds like something you can relate to: You got to bed last night later than you had hoped because you stayed up to finish a project for work or school (or you had to finish your article for The Badger Sportsman Magazine…nevermind, that’s me!?!) You hit the snooze button twice and now you are rushing to get the kid’s lunches made and ready for school or work. In the midst of all of this, you let the dog out of the kennel and then back in after the morning’s food and water. Off to work, then back in the evening only by rushing home to let the dog out of the kennel quickly before grabbing a dinner on the fly and then out the door again to basketball, soccer, baseball, football, gymnastics. Day after day, your specific routines and reasons may vary some, but the pace is constant. It’s FAST and HIGH ENERGY. How can you expect your dog to slow down if that’s not the culture you are instilling in them?
Now your schedule doesn’t have to be exactly like that, but you get the idea. The speed at which we move and the amount of things we take on these days is scary. In a lot of ways, it’s great and with the help of technology we’re able to be much more efficient, get more done and pull it all off faster. But, I have to remind you that dogs are not interested in technology helping them to become more efficient, and getting more things done faster. We, and our society, have changed greatly over the last several hundred years. However, our dogs have not changed one bit. They still learn by forming habits and habits are formed by repetition and consistency. Their behavior is influenced greatly by the culture they are raised in. That repetition, consistency and culture comes from us as their leader. When you think about it that way, it’s not a lot different than the process of raising a child.
I literally see people that are in such a big hurry with their lives schedule, they will jump on an ATV or UTV in order to get their dog’s walk in (which ends up being a sprint). Look back on what happens before these runs. The dogs go from zero to 100 miles per hour when they are in any kind of contact with us because they match our pace. When we take dogs out in a hurry and have them run for miles behind an ATV with the idea that they need the exercise and that this will help “burn off energy,” I think the owner’s heart is in the right place, but unfortunately they’re trying to put out the fire by pouring gasoline on it. The faster, harder and more you run your dog, the faster, harder and more your dog will be able to run.
So what can you do? I do think there are a few easy things we can do to work on this by simply changing the culture. But if you remember what I mentioned early on in this article, “More times than not, the whole work part, that’s where things start to get hard!” We need to take a good look at our lives and how we operate day to day. Think about your schedule and instead of simply trying to figure out how to get more miles in, see how well your dog can focus while covering a 1/10 of the distance, but under great control while in the heel position. Vary and set the pace in everything you do. When your dog is part of the equation, slow that pace down. If your dog wants to go fast (and the “excitable” ones usually do) you need to slow down to counter that.
In training, I often talk about the importance of balance. This is another example of when it needs to be found. You might break up the walk with 2-3 minutes of just sitting still. Two or three minutes doesn’t sound like much, but if you’re used to a fast pace with everything you do all day long, stopping and standing still for that amount of time can feel like an eternity. From that, add layers into the exercise that will challenge your dog to have to think about what they are doing instead of just mindless physical exercise. Mentally stimulating our dogs within their routine of physical stimulation can be by far the most effective way to “wear them out”. By simply doing a few things like this, you begin to work towards building patience in both your dog as well as in yourself.
The best way I have found to speed things up when it comes to raising dogs is very simple…just slow things down. Best of luck to you in your training!
Whats up. Im Todd. I like my dog, boats, the open water, the American flag and guns. Some might describe me as a "basic bro", but I'm really just a down home country boy. And a country boy can survive! Im usually out on the water in my fishing boat or canoe with my dog drinking a beer. Stuff on here is stuff I like. Cheers.