Last year we had a particularly harsh winter. Will this winter be the same? Make sure you're prepared with this advice on keeping kennelled dogs comfortable, warm and well.
Moving house dogs outside
Q: With the recent addition of twin babies into the home it is now not practical or sensible for my three gundogs to live inside. We have a good-sized barn and were wondering if they would be all right out there day and night until the children are older. Would dog beds and some straw be sufficient?
A: Though your dogs have been used to the comforts of the family home they should soon acclimatise to life outdoors, even if this time of year is not the ideal time to start the acclimatisation process. Most dogs that are kept in a social group enjoy snuggling up together but others prefer to be on their own; you should know what your dogs do at present and provide for them accordingly. A covered-in box or dog bed just big enough for them to curl up in is much cosier and warmer than an open bed.
Bedding comes in many forms and because of harbouring vermin, straw should be avoided. A reusable and washable Vetbed is designed to let moisture pass through away from a damp dog. It is expensive but well worth the investment and though not indestructible it is very resilient to wear and tear. Bales of shredded paper are probably the best type of loose bedding material. It can be easily disposed of when it gets dirty and does not harbour insects and vermin as straw would.
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Your dogs should be cared for well through the winter. After shooting, when they are likely to be dirty and wet, besides towelling off after washing, a heat lamp is ideal for getting them completely dry. They can then settle down into a well-covered, warm bed and come to no harm even on the coldest of winter nights.
Keeping dogs warm in kennels in winter
Jeremy Hunt says: Everyone has their own ideas about how to make dogs comfortable in the winter in kennels. I know some kennels that just allow dogs to sleep together in plastic beds with no bedding at all, some use pieces of rubber matting manufactured for cow cubicles and stables, others prefer just torn up newspapers – the options are endless.
There’s no doubt that some people seem to have a hang-up about making dogs “too comfortable” – almost as though allowing them to “rough it” is good for them.
I am never sure why that is, because a dog that’s warm, dry and comfortable is a dog that will be happy in his kennel which is definitely a bonus if you live close to neighbours and have to leave your dog(s) for any period of time.
A warm, dry and contented dog will not only thrive but will also make much more use of the food you give it. So instead of burning up every calorie just to keep warm he’ll be able to utilise his feed more efficiently and hopefully provide you with a healthy and active dog that will hold his body condition during the winter shooting season.
A: Yes. Under the right conditions dogs, and indeed any warm-blooded mammal, can suffer hypothermia. Hypothermia in dogs occurs when an animal’s core body…
Have you got any experience of neoprene coats for gundog training? Do they work?
What size should a kennel be for a gundog?
When it comes to size it’s surprising to see what some manufacturers regard as an adequate standard size for a dog kennel. A number unfortunately tend to build on the small side. Most of my kennels – with run – are 4ft wide by 6ft long, and extra space is given to the sleeping quarters.
The bigger the better I say. By building big you can then put an additional dog in if need be without cramping.
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The dogs’ sleeping quarters are every bit as important as a spacious run and should be warm, draught free and off the floor (see above advice).
The use of bricks and mortar will stop any chewing by dogs that would quickly destroy any run made from wood. If your kennel is going to be a permanent fixture I would use bricks or blocks for the sleeping quarters and a galvanised run with roof to keep the rain off.