As a hunter, I want a hunting dog, but my family wants a family dog. How to solve this dilemma?
Don’t we all know the situation where we hunters finally want a hunting partner by our side, someone who does everything for us? Good idea, until you talk to family members who also want a four-legged friend. But a hunting dog? No, he’ll just run away.
But don’t worry, you can have both. A hunting dog can be a family dog and a hunting partner in one. You just need to start training correctly right away.
As soon as you’ve agreed on the breed of hunting dog, look for a breeder and get detailed advice there. Mention that you’re not only looking for a hunting dog, but also a good family dog, which means that the puppy should have a calm and affectionate character.
Once you have brought the puppy home, you should, after a short time of acclimatization, start training. After all, you want them to listen to everything you say, whether on a Sunday walk with the family or on a hunting expedition.
From day one, lay down clear rules for the little fellow. You can teach these in a playful way, or use simple aids such as treats for support. This way, the puppy very quickly and easily learns all the commands he needs for the rest of his life. Commands such as “sit”, “down”, “heel” and “stay” are essential for any situation, including hunting. I like to describe these as the “basics” without which further training is impossible.
I like to talk about making it easier for the dog – and for yourself – by “ritualizing” individual steps of the training. By this I mean: It’s important to establish a clear boundary between walking (or everyday life) and hunting.
In everyday training, you should spend 10 to 30 minutes a day – depending on how long the puppy can concentrate – really concentrating on the dog 100 percent, working calmly and strictly on the individual commands. Maybe the dog is wearing a harness or a collar. All of this needs to happen in a low-stimulus environment, which allows the dog to focus on you and not on the surroundings, which are naturally very exciting at the beginning.
During hunting work, which takes place in the hunting grounds, I initially give the puppy more freedom: I let him use his nose, let him develop his instincts and live out his hunting traits. As a result, the puppy develops self-confidence, which he’ll definitely need later on, to find every piece of game.
Once I feel the puppy has gained enough experience on his own, I begin to add my commands to the hunting work, and to guide him, so that I can later rely on his absolute obedience during the hunt. The young dog now learns two things: that he may work only with my permission, and that he should work for me.
During daily walks, hunting is always taboo; the dog should stay on the paths. If you start with all of this at a young age, the dog quickly understands which “job” is needed when, and you have gained a great partner. Both for you as a hunter, and for your whole family.