Article originally appeared in Pheasants Forever magazine.
Match Your Style
Certain things just go together well, and that applies to hunters and dogs. Dogs and their owners begin to resemble one another over time and take on characteristics of each other’s personalities. There’s some truth to that, but there are also mismatches that take place. Some dogs and hunters should not be together because there is too much difference between performance and expectation.
A Question of Range
A common problem is hunters who expect dogs to hunt close but buy a puppy that’s bred to range and find birds. In most cases, a hunter buys a breed he has heard good things about, and then spends his time reining the dogs in too tightly. This is known as over-controlling and can damage the dog’s bird-finding ability. You need to be honest with yourself about your expectations, and buy a breed of dog that matches your hunting style. If you already have a dog that doesn’t match your style, you should come to terms with that and let your dog’s natural abilities develop.
Do You And Your Dog Match?
It’s important to recognize your preferred hunting style. If you have a pointing dog that likes to cover ground, and you’re constantly on the whistle or pushing the buttons on your e-collar, the two of you are possibly not meant for each other. Most pointing breeds are meant to range so you don’t have to stay with him and cover all the same ground. If you trust your dog to hold birds, you can let him range a little. You can always hustle over to him when the chase gets hot or you know they’re on point. Letting go of control can mean more birds and happier days in the field.
Why Over-Controlling can be detrimental
Over-controlling your dog can have negative affects you may not realize. An over-controlled dog may focus on where you want him instead of on finding birds. He becomes more worried about making a mistake than following his hunting instincts. In this light, you can see why it’s so important to trust your dog and let him hunt. Don’t confuse letting him hunt, though, with being lax on discipline. Your dog needs to follow through with commands. He can’t read signs and doesn’t know where you have permission to hunt. Lack of discipline can also be dangerous as he trails a bird out toward a road with traffic.
Good Hunter, Good Citizen
Many people want a great hunting dog that is also a good pet. If you want your hunting dog to be a good family dog, you need to make sure that’s what your breeder is breeding. The best way to do this is to research the breeder and ask many questions. You should also look at the parents to make sure they have the kind of personality you want in your dog. Consider all of this before bringing your kids to see the puppies or it may be too late. Kids and cute puppies have a way of going home together.
Freedom To Hunt Under Control
Like good employers that understand employees and turn them loose to do what they do best, you have to allow your dog to hunt. The years you spend together with your dog can be fun or frustrating. Consider this carefully as you choose a dog or come to terms with the one you already own.
To learn more about Chad’s training methods, visit www.willowcreekkennels.net.