The Training of Hunting Dogs
In the long history of the relationship between dogs and humans, the idea of the dog as pampered house pet is a rather new idea. Dogs were partners in some of the most important jobs that our ancestors had to accomplish. Assisting on the all important hunt for food was one of those jobs. Until the very recent past in the time line of humans and dogs, failure on the hunt meant more than simple disappointment at a recreational activity that was not as satisfying as it could have been. It meant starvation.
Hunting is for recreation now, and the dog has become more of a companion and pet than an essential element to our survival. Yet deep inside many humans and inside their dogs is still this primal urge to hunt. There are many theories on the proper training of a hunting dog, and debate rages about such diverse issues as the best breeds and if the hunting dog can also double as the family pet. Many people claim that the training should start as early as possible while others swear that it is better the let the animal get the “puppy” out of himself before he can even begin his training as a hunter.
The important thing in the training of the hunting dog is the bond between the dog and the hunter. People have discovered this the hard way when they spent large sums on dogs with great hunter breeding, but have found them useless in the woods. Others have discovered it when they borrowed a friend’s “well trained” hunting dog and found them worthless. This is because it really is not the breeding or how well the dog has been trained by another that counts. It is the bond. The dog needs to be responsive to your style of hunting and your energy level.
Begin to train your hunting dog as soon as he becomes your dog. Start with the basic obedience skills and set your training goals and standards high. It will be important to maintain a hunting orientated consistency in all your interaction with the dog. You can not take him on walks in the woods and let him romp freely and out of control, and suddenly change his behavior when hunting season begins. Train him to hunt the way you hunt, establish the bond early, and make it strong. The result will be not only a good hunting dog, but a hunting companion as well.