With dove season coming up in September and other wild bird seasons starting in October, many hunters begin entertaining the idea of purchasing a hunting dog before the season starts.
Some guys just want to replace their aging hunting partner with a younger dog, while others have made the decision to begin hunting with a dog for the first time. If you are and avid hunter who hunts without a dog, at some point you’re going to get fed up with losing the birds that you deem recoverable in the field. That’s the main reason many hunters purchase their first dog. During their quest to put more birds in the bag, many of these hunters will discover the joy and pride that owning a well-trained, talented dog brings to their hunt. The extra benefit is that a dog is not only a competent hunter, but a faithful companion.
If you decide to start with a puppy, you should follow the advice in this old saying: “The price you pay for the pup is the cheapest part of ownership.” I know many of you have heard this before, but I really believe it eliminates problems in the future when a buyer pays attention to the true meaning. My first rule in purchasing a hunting dog — especially a puppy is this: buy good blood. You’re going to pay more for good breeding, but as I mentioned it’s the most valuable asset.
Breeders, especially in the field trial world, know the background of all the stud dogs and good bitches for generations back. They know that the three top genetic problems, hip displasia, elbow displasia and eye problems have been bred out of their dog lines, and this can mean fewer trips to the vet throughout your dog’s life.
There are genetic guarantees that come with a well-selected puppy, but no breeder guarantees hunting qualities. No matter how good the pedigree — it’s a crapshoot when you start with a puppy. That’s why my recommendation is to buy a trained dog. If you have the money of course, the best way to purchase a hunting dog is to find one that is already trained, or even a partially trained dog, but if you choose the later, you’ll need some expertise to make that determination. If you do, you can see the quality, character and adult physical appearance of the dog you are buying. Even if you find a trained dog, there are other considerations. You should feel comfortable around the animal, spend a little time working the dog and take him for a walk to get to know him better.
If you feel something is not right, don’t even consider looking at the animals other qualities because it’s a waste of your time. Of all the dogs that I have trained in my career, there have been only three that I flat-out did not like, so, I would consider it rare that you would have a personality conflict, but it does happen. Once you decide to purchase the animal, make sure some instructions come with the deal. No matter how competent a handler you are, every trainer has his own way of training and you should learn the proper commands and exactly how the dog was schooled.
I offer five free lessons with every trained dog I sell, unfortunately, only two buyers have taken advantage of that deal and of those two they came out only a few times. Every professional trainer who sells trained dogs want his client to come out and learn how to take advantage of the instructions offered; It’s a good deal for both buyer and seller. The buyer gets a better understanding of how to handle his new dog and the seller is assured his client will be happy with the animal he sold.
If you have never hunted with a dog before, do yourself a favor this season and learn the joy and satisfaction a dog add to the hunt.
Have fun training!
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Grady’s column appears every other week in WON and he can be reached at reibar.com