Bird dogging itThere’s a longtime saying “A dog is a man’s best friend.”
There’s a longtime saying “A dog is a man’s best friend.”
More specifically in this case it’s woman’s best friend. That statement couldn’t be truer as pheasant season started on Oct. 13.
Jean Steiner’s dogs at Antelope Creek Kennels south of Dickinson are all bird dogs. Her German Wirehair Pointers are a cross between a Poodle Pointer and a German Shorthair. Steiner is retired and her husband passed away about five years ago, but she still works with her dogs to keep them in shape to go hunting with her relatives.
“Make sure you don’t call me a trainer,” Steiner said, implying there would be hell to pay within the bird dog community. Even so, she knows plenty about working with bird dogs to offer good advice about getting a dog ready for hunting season.
Letting your dog run in the backyard is not good preparation for hunting, Steiner said. Dogs need to run in the wide open spaces to mirror the activity they’ll be doing during a hunting excursion.
As an example, Steiner said she wore a pedometer to gauge how much distance is covered during a “typical” hunting outing — the reading was seven miles.
Asking a backyard-conditioned dog to cover seven miles “is like asking someone to do a marathon,” Steiner said. “They (the dogs) would hunt until they dropped. They won’t stop until you stop.”
Another piece of advice is to teach your dog basic obedience commands — with the basic, most important one “Come.” “Sometimes you’ll absolutely need the dog to come,” mentioning cacti or rattlesnakes as ominous reasons. Steiner’s technique is to kneel down
when telling her dogs to come to her. “Never ever discipline them” when giving that command, Steiner said. “I don’t care what it is.” She said you don’t want the dog to associate this command with something bad — since that would confuse the dog and negate its important training.
What about getting your dog used to the sound of guns? There are many dos and don’ts when tackling this important issue — a few main ones include: never take your dog out hunting before properly introducing it to guns and the sound of guns; and condition your dog to all sorts of noises as you are raising it.
Hunters also should schedule a checkup at the dog’s veterinarian, if it’s been awhile. That way, you’ll have a better idea if your dog is ready for the physical exertion of the hunting season.
Hopefully, a has been getting regular exercise all year long, so the adjustment may not be as physically difficult for them if the owner have been lax in that department. And make sure the dog’s vaccinations are up to date, considering the critters they may run into out in the field.