Dogs are some of the best companions when you’re on the hunt, especially those that were bred to track, retrieve, or expose game. However, even hunting breeds will need training before you bring them out in the field. Let’s look at the signs that your dog could be trained to be a hunting dog, regardless of breed.
Fitness and Obedience
A hunting dog needs to be quick, agile, and adaptive. If your dog isn’t in good physical shape, she’s at risk of getting injured during a hunt, especially if you’re hunting big game. In addition to physical fitness, a suitable hunting dog is going to listen to commands and respect your authority. If you can’t get your dog to hold a simple sit-and-stay, it’s more likely that she’ll scare animals away than help you bag them.
A Sharp Nose
Dogs have a much sharper sense of smell than we do and can smell a wild animal long before you’ll ever see or hear it. Take your dog on a walk through the woods and see where she guides you—if she’s immediately treeing squirrels and pointing at birds, her sense of smell is well-attuned to game. Unfortunately, not all dogs have the gift of sharp smell. Breeds with short airways, like pugs and bull dogs, aren’t quite as powerful in the olfactory department.
Toy-driven puppies tend to excel at retrieval. If your dog takes naturally to the game of fetch, you can train her to retrieve your fallen game. To graduate from tennis balls to fowl, practice a no-throw game of fetch using decoys, rewarding her when she locates and returns each one. Not only can this develop her recall, but it can also prepare her for blind retrieval.
Limited Reactivity to Sound
If you haven’t tested your dog’s sound reactivity and desensitized her to gunshots, she may take off the second you aim and fire. With the help of another hunter positioned at least fifty yards away, toss something for her to fetch seconds before your training partner fires a gun. Continue this process, closing the gap and rewarding her until she’s no longer scared of the sound.
At Nine Bar Ranch, we welcome experienced hunting dogs and their owners. Contact us to learn more about our packages or schedule your next trip.