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Hunting Dogs: How to Choose the Right Puppy
A critical step in choosing a hunting dog is knowing what kind of dog you want. No, not the type of breed you are looking for, you probably already know that, but what “kind” of dog you want. Obviously this is referring to temperament and behavior. Temperament refers to the dog’s nature, and how it affects their behavior. Behavior is defined as observable activity, essentially, what the dog does based on its temperament. You could combine the two to describe the dog’s personality. This critical step in choosing your dog can make or break you.
Narrowing down your options.
Obviously, a well tempered dog will behave well, and a bad tempered dog will behave badly, but it goes much further than that. There are bullheaded pointers; big, dumb, hyper retrievers; lazy hounds and all sorts of multiple personalities in dogs. Surely you could add to this list. Just think of all the different personality types you know and work with. There is a dog personality to match every single one of them.
So how do you know? Out of the eight puppies laid out in front of you, which one is to become your next prize hunting companion? Most folks will tell you to grab the biggest male of the group, the one that beats all others to the food bowl. No doubt he will have drive and ambition when it’s time to take to the field. He may also drive you up the wall with his excessive energy and rowdy behavior after he has chewed up all retriever dummies, your left boot, and the TV remote. Others will tell you to toss out a bird wing to see who has the sharp eye and the instinct to hunt. This could be advantageous assuming he also has an interest in you. And then there’s the runt of the litter who’s calm and easy to handle. She could be a real gem as long as there’s no skittish streak in her. So, which one?
Finding the one most like you.
For all practical purposes, it’s good to match your hunting dog’s personality with your own. Spend a few minutes with each one and see who has the characteristics you have. If possible spend some time with the dam and sire. In the long run this will give both of you an enjoyable experience. Hunting with your dog is a two way street, you help each other achieve a common goal. If your dog is high strung and you are not or vise versa, the two of you will have a lot of trouble making it through common commands such as sit, stay and come. A huge part of this hunting relationship is built by spending an enormous amount of time outside of the training schedule, not just so your dog can learn your mannerisms and gestures, but for you to learn his. This translates to the field by being able to read each other and react without hesitation simply because you know what the other is thinking. Similar personalities are more likely to achieve this.
Obviously if you have specific needs or other objectives there are many factors to consider. If a bloodline has consistently turned out intelligent well tempered hunting dogs then it will continue to do so. If your next purchase is going to be your best friend, then make sure you have the “kind” of hunting dog you want.