The use of hunting dogs for the pursuit of game has been in practice ever since man and dog discovered they made great companions. Whether opting for sight hounds, scent hounds, pointers or retrievers the relationship between a hunter and his canine counterpart is a special one. While they are companions, in the field there is a working relationship between hunters and their hunting dogs. Dogs can be trained to obey verbal commands, hand gestures and whistle signals. A hunter who trains his or her dog well has the advantage of depending on their companion to get at game that the hunter cannot.
Because dogs are pack animals and eager to please, they often enjoy hunting just for the chance to be included. While hunting dogs work hard to please their masters, certain breeds have characteristics that naturally fit many types of hunting. Retrievers or water retrievers are unrivaled in their ability to recover downed ducks or geese from ponds at any temperature. Scent hounds are spectacular at trailing game by smell even in the most extreme of conditions. Pointers are fantastic in their ability to track and establish the specific location of small game. While these dogs love to please, their instinctive characteristics often make training and hunting much easier.
For small or large game hunters, a hunting dog is a multifaceted asset to a hunt. Not only can the animal be an essential tool all at the hunter’s command, a good hunting dog is also a faithful companion. The personality of a dog tends to be one that is eager to please with an earnest passion for doing their job right, whether it’s retrieving ducks or flushing quail. The working relationship between the two takes much in the way of time, patience and training. There are many techniques and methods for training dogs but a seasoned hunter knows that understanding the way a dog thinks is key to training success.
When a hunter decides that he or she has the time necessary to contribute toward the training of a hunting dog, the decision must be made as to what type of dog will be the right option. This is mainly decided upon what type of hunting is involved. Those who hunt ducks and geese are likely to need a water dog such as a Labrador retriever. Pointing breeds are the perfect choice for quail hunters. When hunting coyotes or raccoons, a hunter should opt for scent hounds. Terriers are known for being great at flushing animals that live in burrows while curs are the best choice for larger animals such as boars.
Training hunting dogs can take skill and most importantly, patience. There are many resources available to help hunters through the process of making their dog field ready. Those who have not had much experience when it comes to training a hunting dog would do well to first seek out the guidance of a professional. A trainer who specializes in hunting dogs can make for a much smoother training experience. The relationship between a dog and a hunter has strict boundaries. Many times, a dog is not just a hunting companion but a family pet, meaning expectations and lines of communication can get crossed leading to frustration for both the hunter and the dog. Trained and seasoned professionals can help a hunter and the dog swiftly move past these issues with ease.
A professional trainer can help a hunter to understand what he or she sees versus what the dog may be seeing. It can save a lot of frustration and, in the long run, make for a better working relationship between the hunter and his or her four legged hunting buddy. A hunter and dog that work well together in the field makes for a hunt that is both successful and satisfying.
While hunting dogs can be found for sale just about anywhere, there are those who breed dogs for hunting from very exclusive bloodlines. These dogs are often registered and carry quite a heavy price tag. While it is not necessary to buy a dog from this type of breeder, all reputable breeders will be able to show purebreed documentation to prospective buyers with ease. When purchasing a certain type of hunting dog, it is important to ask the breeder specific questions about their dogs and their experience breeding them. It is also wise to take note of the surroundings and the condition of the kennels. In fact, good dog breeders are very hygienic and quite picky about to whom they sell their dogs.
When out in the field, there is nothing better than watching a well trained hunting dog working with its master. The sheer excitement and joy of being out in the field is evident in the wagging of tails and bright shining eyes. With a few verbal commands, hand gestures or short whistlebursts a dutiful dog will head out to do his or her job with apt attention. The well trained hunting dog expertly flushes game and retrieves fallen ducks in places a hunter could not get to alone. At the end of the day, there will be the unspeakable bond only hunters and a four legged hunting buddy can share.
By: Ron Soles