Every outdoorsman deserves a loyal companion, but a sporting dog goes way beyond just being a partner in the field. In fact, many hunters say they would choose another sport if they couldn’t bring their dogs.

Wondering if your dog has what it takes? Given their boundless energy and more moldable minds, puppies are easiest to train, but you can also introduce an older dog to bird hunting. Training a sporting dog may seem a bit daunting, but like any canine activity, it begins with basic obedience and a strong connection to you as a trainer. Dogs have an innate desire to please their owners, so with consistent training, they’ll quickly pick up on the basics. With that foundation established, you’ll want to get training advice from experts in upland or waterfowl hunting as each present different challenges for your dog and you as trainer.

Perhaps the best way to get into the sport is to connect with a friend or family member who is already involved, but there many well-established handlers who share tips online or even offer video training sessions. Another potential path would be to get involved in hunt tests, which are essentially competitions where sporting dogs can demonstrate their abilities. The United Kennel Club (UKC) is a Eukanuba™ partner and a great organization to get involved with for those interested in competition.

Like any canine athlete, training and conditioning are essential to keeping your sporting dog in peak physical shape. In addition, nutrition plays a huge role in overall performance. Eukanuba™ Premium Performance 30/20 Sport is a good diet to consider once your dog is actively training or hunting.

With dedication, consistent training and the right fuel, you and your sporting dog can look forward to years of exciting and memorable outdoor excursions together.