Are you planning to have a working dog to help you with hunting? There’s still a lot you need to learn but don’t get intimidated. To get you started, here are some basic information on hunting with a dog.
Why Dogs Hunt
Dogs were domesticated to hunt back then, and it’s not their hunger that triggers the behavior but the sound and sight of moving prey. Even dogs who are pampered and spoiled will react to a squirrel passing by or the scent of a bunny. It is ingrained in the canine psyche.
The scent usually drives hunting behavior and is used to identify and locate prey. Sight and sound also play a role. A number of refined behaviors used singly or together compose the dog’s hunting repertoire.
Types of Hunting Dogs
Hunting dogs are usually categorized into three: hounds, gun dogs, and terriers. Most of the terriers are made into house pets but some are still working dogs. They usually function in varmint hunting and blood tracking larger, wounded game, but many of these types of hunting have fallen out of favor in the US. Our focus on this section are the legal hunting methods using gun dogs and hounds. Every hunter should know what makes them different, but to achieve this, they should know what the wild game is first. Does it run or does it hide?
Gun dogs are those breeds that are suitable for hunting upland and wetland game, like birds and furred game like rabbits. They are categorized into three: pointers, flushers, and retrievers. Their basic purpose is to simply locate game within shooting distance of the hunter and then to retrieve the downed game. Unlike hounds that follow the scent of running animals on the ground, gun dogs like to locate camouflaged birds through the scent in the air. They also hunt in a more patterned way to locate these hidden animals in a much closer range to the hunter. Gun dogs are a great choice for those wishing to own a versatile hunting dog that can locate multiple species of birds and retrieve them directly to the hunter.
Scent hounds are known for their scenting ability and loud voice. Most of them have loud voices that they use while following a certain smell. This might be a huge distraction in some areas, but it is a highly valuable trait for the hunter wishing to follow a dog during a hunt, even when the dog is out of sight. For them to stick to a track and follow it over long distances, they must learn endurance.
All scent hounds are similar in terms of their hunting skills, but some are just bred to pressure animals as they wait for the hunter to kill the game. Still, these so-called tree hounds are incredibly efficient at keeping games in a tree for the hunter to observe before harvesting. This can be an important asset when trying to discern the gender or legality of larger game.
Tree hounds love to prey on squirrels, raccoons, bobcats, mountain lions, and bears. Rabbits, foxes, coyotes, wild boar, and deer are also pursued by scent hound.
Don’t be scared to raise a working animal. The most important thing to do is to keep them happy healthy, and well-trained. To do this, you simply have to choose a single training regimen and stick with it. Dogs thrive on consistency, so find one philosophy and stick to it when it comes to feeding, training, grooming them, and more.