puppy

Your pups first dove hunt and what to expect

With opening day of dove season this weekend there will be a lot of new pups going on their first hunt. I personally have a love/hate relationship with dove hunting because you can really screw up a dog on their first hunt if you don’t do things right. Plus, if there are no birds flying and it’s 100 degrees out it can be pretty miserable for both you and the dog.

The number one rule I always have when taking a dog on their first hunt is to remember to HAVE FUN! This is most likely going to blow their mind if there are a lot of birds flying so I always tell their owners if you are going to take your dog, prepare to not shoot for the first half of the hunt so you can focus on your dog. I would retrieve the first dove myself, bring it back and toss it right in front of the dog so we have a really close retrieve, then I will let him retrieve a close shot bird next, and once we have that under control I am going to start letting them jump into the game and start retrieving the doves.

I never expect the dog to be 100% perfect and I don’t get on to them constantly during their first hunt because I could take their drive and love away really quick because they could easily associate hunting with discipline. We want to make them love the game first then slowly add rules. I have talked about this concept before in a previous post when talking about teaching a dog to retrieve. We do the same things when teaching a child to play baseball. We start with T-ball and slowly add rules to the game. I still expect my dogs to behave while we are hunting but I’m not looking for perfect retrieves or handling. I do expect the dog to sit calmly and quietly beside me. If i have dog that is whining their head off and not calming down then we are going to go back to the truck. I am not going to reward the dog for whining by letting them retrieve a bird.

Beware that some dogs are just NOT dove dogs and never will be. I have one dog that just can’t handle a dove in his mouth no matter what you do. I have tried every method you can think of from old school to new methods and he just can’t do it. Remember a dove is essentially a dog holding the freshest best treat in the world in their mouth so for a dog to not just swallow a dove takes some training.

I always take a bumper just in case there are no birds flying because you don’t want to make them sit outside all afternoon in this heat and not be rewarded for good behavior (sitting calmly). I have also resorted to shooting crows so they could have something to retrieve but I have only had one dog interested in retrieving crows. The rest want nothing to do with them (I can’t blame them).

Another thing to remember-and I can’t stress this enough- BE CAREFUL and watch your dog close. They can overheat QUICK in this heat. If you suspect your dog is overheated, never throw them into a pond or body of water as this can trap the heat in and not cool them off. The thing you want to do is put ice on their belly, in between their toes, on the tips of their ears, and get them in your truck with some air conditioning or in the shade. You want to put ice where their skin is so you can cool them off quicker. I have only had to do this to a dog one time when they were suspected to be overheating after a long run in a hunt test. I am extremely cautious when it comes to the heat and I don’t mess around. I only dove hunt in the evenings if I am going to take a dog I always sit in the shade.

My next blog post will be about what I never leave home without when traveling or hunting with a dog. Stay tuned and happy hunting!!!

Why dog toys are a huge NO for me

This will definitely catch your attention but my dogs or any dog I train are not allowed to be left alone with toys. This is a huge NO for me. There are a few different reasons for this but the main one is I have seen too many customer dogs pass away from blockages from toys. My dogs and any dog I train are allowed to have a toy only when we are retrieving. I want the dogs to have rules with their toys just like any other game would have rules. I will give the dogs something to chew on a few times a week but ONLY when they are with me. If I were to leave the dog with the toy to chew on all day then essentially I am teaching the dog when they are bored to lay around and chew on things. Dogs are extremely smart but not smart enough to know the difference between your shoes, couch, baseboards, etc. from a toy. I always compare dogs to children and ask my customers if they would let their kids play video games all day long? Hopefully the answer to this question would be no. Dogs thrive on structure and rules just like humans.

Labs especially have a TERRIBLE name for being chewers and this is simply because they are taught to chew on things when they are bored. When my dogs are bored, they know to lay down and hang out. They know we will go play in a little bit but they don’t need to be doing something 24-7. It is human nature that tells us we need to occupy them all the time. Just like children, dogs need to learn to just sit still and be calm.

I often hear people telling me their dog was chewing on something so they gave them a toy to chew instead. Giving them a toy pretty much just rewarded your dog for chewing on something. I like to compare dogs to kids and this isn’t what we would do (hopefully) if we caught little Jimmy setting our house on fire. We wouldn’t give him a brand new Xbox because he was bored and wanted to play with fire would we?

I am not trying to scare you with this post but instead save dogs lives. Some of the best dogs I have had the pleasure of knowing have passed away to soon from a blockage that could of been prevented. Please be sure to supervise your dogs when giving them toys.

Buying a puppy??

I have been getting a lot of questions recently about what to look for when purchasing a puppy. I have put together some questions to ask the breeder. If your breeder can’t answer these questions, then something isn’t right. Just because a puppy cost thousands doesn’t mean it’s a well bred dog. Here are a few questions to ask when picking a breeder:

-can you meet the parents?

-can you see where puppies are being raised?

-how early are the puppies weened?

-do parents have any certifications? Hip/elbow, eye, dna testing, etc.

-when can you take your puppy home? 1 month? 2 months? 3 months? 6 months?

-does the puppy come with a guarantee (most breeders give a 24 month health guarantee)?

-if you can’t keep puppy for any reason will the breeder take their puppy back?

-how many litters do they have a year?

-will the breeder help with any training or recommend a trainer?

-have they been wormed every 2 weeks?

-have they had a round of shots?

-do they come with AKC/UKC registration?

-did a vet check your puppy before leaving the breeder?

These questions can be applied to any breed. If you are paying more than $500 for a puppy, I highly recommend all of these questions be answered. If you need help finding a breeder or are unsure of what to look for send me an email. I would be glad to recommend a great breeder or answer any questions you might have. Instead of supporting a bad breeder think about adopting from your local shelter.