Whether you hunt large game or small, a well-trained hunting dog can help make any type of hunting a better experience. Hunting dogs can track, flush, locate, and help land results. And for many hunters, the relationship with their hunting dog is about more than just achieving results. Having a hunting dog creates a bond while working as a team. For example, Game & Fish writer, J. Michael Kelly explains that he had an almost psychic bond with his hunting dog, Harley. Hunters have teamed up with a wide variety of breeds for hunting throughout history. In 2001, the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies reported that $604,616,000 was spent on hunting dogs and their care alone. But creating that kind of relationship with a hunting dog doesn’t happen overnight.
Training & Commitment
Many breeds are eager to hunt and naturally chase a variety of creatures when given the chance. Keep in mind hunting takes chasing creatures to new and skillful heights. Before deciding to get a hunting dog, determine if you have everything it takes to own a good hunting dog. The Hunting Directory emphasizes that training a good hunting dog starts at a young age and takes over a year to reach a point when they are reliable. Consistent training takes time, energy and dedication. It requires hunters who not only hunt frequently during the season, but hunters who will continue to work with the dog during the off-season as well. Hunting dogs require an unsuspecting large amount of commitment. And when the time, energy and effort are put forth, the results can create an unstoppable hunter and dog team.
Each breed has individual traits and strengths that can improve different types of hunting. Breeds are typically broken down into the major categories of hounds, terriers, dachshunds, cur type, and gun dogs. DogBreedInfo.com lists more than 150 different breeds that can be defined as hunting dogs; however the following are the most popular.
- Hounds can be used on a large variety of prey, including small and large.
- Terriers, dachshunds and cur type are usually used for smaller prey.
- Gun dogs are used for hunters who shoot small game and birds; retrievers, pointers, setters, and other breeds would fall into this category.
Pointer: Determining the type of hunting you want to train your dog to do can point you in the right direction for what kind of dog to get.
Once you have decided on the breed, the real work begins. The Official Westie Guide recommends that hunters start early when training a puppy to be a gun dog. First, teach them not to be afraid of gunshots. Second, consistency is key. Training tools include electronic collars, decoys, bird calls, leashes of varying lengths, and patience. The right tools, dedication and teamwork can help train a dog into a your hunting companion.