Hunting Dogs

Where would hunters be without their hunting dogs? If you are looking for a faithful hunting companion, you will need to consider several factors, including breeds of hunting dogs and how you will train your hunting dog. Here is some information to help you find your perfect pooch, as well as some tips for training hunting dogs.

Breeds of Hunting Dogs

There are more than 24 breeds of hunting dogs. The major breeds of hunting dogs are hounds, pointers, setters, retrievers and spaniels:

  • Hounds: There are two varieties of hunting hounds: sight hounds and scent hounds.
    • Sight hounds are able to track down their prey by sight and have exceptionally good vision. They generally have a long neck and jaw line.

    • Scent hounds specialize in following their prey”s scent and can follow a trail for a long distance. Their bodies are designed for endurance, which is a plus for hunting.

  • Pointers are used to track and detect birds. A pointer can indicate a bird”s location to the hunter by “”pointing,”” or aiming its muzzle toward the prey.
  • Setters are like pointers, but have been trained to set, or crouch, in front of game to prevent it from escaping.
  • Retrievers, with their water-repellent coats and nearly webbed feet, are made for the water and are excellent in retrieving ducks and other waterfowl without damaging them. Years of breeding have made this dog eager to please its hunter/owner, and it is no surprise this breed of dog is the most popular one in America.
  • Spaniels are good for hunting on land or in water and are excellent for forcing birds to leave the ground and for retrieving prey.

Training Hunting Dogs

All of the breeds of hunting dogs listed above have a natural tendency toward hunting and are more prone than some dogs to do the things their masters want them to do. You can start training a dog to be a hunting dog as early as the puppy stage.

Most experts agree that the first step in training hunting dogs is establishing the bond between the dog and its owner. To establish a good bond with your hunting dog, you must be gentle and kind but use discipline when needed. You must show your dog respect but also let it know that you are the one in control.

After your have a good bond with your dog, you should teach it a few basic commands, such as “”sit”” and “”stay.”” You will use these commands during hunting but also during training, so it is important for your dog to learn them early.

Training Hunting Dogs to Sit

Here are the steps you should follow to train your dog to sit:

  1. Hold a treat in your hand over the dog”s head.
  2. Say “”sit”” while waving the treat over you dog”s head. Most dogs will automatically sit so that they can keep their eyes on the treat.
  3. As soon as the dog sits, say “”good dog”” and give him the treat.
  4. Repeat steps one through three several times and then try getting your dog to sit by only using the command “”sit”” without the treat. If your dog sits after your command, praise him or her.

Training Hunting Dogs to Stay

To train your dog to stay, follow these steps:

  1. Put your dog into the position in which you would like him to stay and stand directly in front of it with your hand in front of the dog”s face.
  2. After a few seconds, if your dog is still in position, give it a treat and praise.
  3. Repeat the process, but do not give the dog a treat or praise until it holds its position for five seconds or longer. If the dog does not hold the position, simply say “”no”” and withhold the treat and then repeat the process.
  4. Next, add a verbal command to the process. Repeat step one, but say “”stay”” while you put your hand in front of your dog.
  5. Give your dog a reward if it stays in position for a few seconds.
  6. Repeat the process using the verbal command.

Teaching Hunting Dogs to Fetch

Once you have taught your puppy a few basic commands, you will want to hone its fetching skills. Puppies have an urge to carry things, so many puppies will have a natural desire to fetch. The following fetching exercise is good for puppies that will need to fetch waterfowl and other prey.

By using a “”bumper,”” a dog training tool that is often made of old socks, rags, etc., an owner can teach a puppy to fetch as early as seven weeks. Here are the steps for teaching your dog to fetch:

  1. Sit on the floor with the puppy at your side or between your legs and tease it with the bumper. Be careful not to play tug-of-war with the puppy, as this will make it reluctant to release the bumper from its mouth.
  2. Throw the bumper a short distance in front of you, maybe three or four yards.
  3. After you throw the bumper, immediately say the word “”fetch”” and let the puppy go to the bumper.
  4. Once the puppy brings the bumper back to you, don”t go out of your way to get the bumper back. Instead, let the puppy learn that it is boring just to play with the bumper on his own. Eventually, the pup will learn to properly drop the bumper in front of you.
  5. Praise the puppy once it drops the bumper, and repeat steps two through four.

Resources

Deeley, M (2004, January 6). Training Just an Ordinary Hunting Dog. Retrieved November 21, 2006, from Gun Muse Outdoors Web site: http://www.gunmuse.com/Articles/Martin%20Deeley/
Training%20Just%20an%20Ordinary%20Hunting%20Dog.

Dog Names (n.d.). Hunting Dogs. Retrieved November 20, 2006, from Dog-names.org Web site: http://www.dog-names.org.uk/hunting-dogs.htm.

See Fido (n.d.). Training Hunting Dogs. Retrieved November 20, 2006, from the Hunting Dog Training Web site: http://www.seefido.com/hunting-dogs/html/training_
hunting_dogs.htm.