Let’s clear up some hunting dog myths

There are a lot of myths about hunting dogs floating around out there that just aren’t true. It’s time to put a few of those myths to rest.

There are definitely certain bits of wisdom around raising hunting dogs that make perfect sense. For instance, it’s a good idea to have bumpers and other training gear that’s specifically for training, and completely different toys for play time. If you let them play with the things you use for training, it can be confusing for them when you want them to transition from play to work. When you break out the training bumpers, it helps them understand that there’s a difference between hunting and playing.

Another myth is that exposing them to constant loud noises will keep them from getting gun-shy. Taking them to the trap club and leaving them in their crate in the back of the SUV with the rear gate open will certainly let them hear a bunch of shotgun blasts. If they are naturally OK with loud noises, they’ll be fine with all that banging. But if that’s the case, there’s really no need to do that.

There’s a better way to make sure they’re good with shooting. Take the pup out in the field with a friend. Have the friend go out about a hundred yards with a shotgun and fire a shot. When he does, give the pup a treat. Keep doing this, slowly getting the shotgun closer, and eventually toss the bumper and let the pup retrieve it after the shot. That’ll get the pup to associate the shot with a reward, and it’s a much more effective way to keep him from getting gun-shy.

The other big myth is that a hunting dog has to be intact. Somewhere along the line, someone got the idea that you can’t neuter your male hunting dog without negatively affecting his hunting ability. But that’s just ridiculous. It is true, though, that you don’t have to neuter your dog at six months, or even a year. Let him fully develop – about a year and a half to two years – before you get him fixed.

Don’t let those hunting myths get in the way of having a great hunting dog.

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