Many hunters prefer to be accompanied by dogs, especially when they are hunting game that is far away and difficult to retrieve. Gun dogs also make for very good company and can make excellent companions for trips when you are cut off from the rest of the world.
Hunting with dogs does not mean that you just take along any pet that you have. Dogs have to be trained for hunting, and when this is done with patience and persistence, the results can be very pleasing during your trips to the wilderness. Gun dogs require proper training before they are taken on a hunt, and all dogs may not even have the potential to turn into good hunting dogs. There are some breeds like retrievers, spaniels, and pointers which are naturally gifted to be good hunters, but even their behavior needs to be kept under control.
Any training has to start with making your dog learn specific basic commands like ‘sit,’ ‘heel,’ ‘stay’ and other things like knowing the behavior that is acceptable and that which is not. Reward good behavior and admonish the bad. Your dog also needs to be utterly loyal to you and must be able to follow your commands happily and without feeling cowed down or fearing punishment. You also need to familiarize your dog with nature and the surroundings that will be encountered during your hunting trips. Take him for long walks in the outdoors and the terrain that you will generally be in when hunting. Let the dog also be familiar with firearms and the sounds of a gun, as this can at times scare them. This familiarizing requires a lot of patience and a routine of outings that will make the dog used to the outdoors and natural surroundings, besides the hunting.
Things like duck hunting and other waterfowl will require making your dog familiar with water and the need to go into it to retrieve any game that you have shot. You can start with a wading pool in your yard before you get him to accept rivers and streams that will be a part of the hunting environment. Teach the dog to fetch sticks or balls that you throw in the water, and learn to do this at your command. Duck hunting often involves the use of decoys and dogs must learn the difference between them and the actual birds. They must be taught how to grasp the birds without damaging them. This differentiation and the retrieving is one of the most challenging parts of training a hunting dog and requires a lot of patience and innovation.
You also need to train your dog to be relaxed when you go out hunting and not be keyed up and eager. The environment for sporting can require you to set up blinds or to use boats, and it is essential that your hunting dog, be equally familiar with both and remain relaxed and be able to lie down. The dog must above all learn to be quiet and not excitable while you are waiting for your prey. Always ensure that you have sufficient food and water for both you and your dog, when you are hunting, as if this is not taken care of, the dog can go wandering looking for sustenance and will not be around when needed.
Hunting with dogs can be quite exciting and rewarding. The best part of this is their constant companionship and presence that can add to the thrill of hunting. Do not expect results on the first trip you make as dogs can take time to get familiar with the hunting experience and understand what it is you require from them.