Waterfowl Hunting Dogs
There is a robust amount of gear necessary for duck hunting: decoys, guns, waders, calls the list goes on. However, one of the most rewarding additions you can make to duck hunting is having a dog. Being able to have the patience to raise and train a puppy to retrieve for you and find ducks on cold icy mornings is beyond satisfying. Having waterfowl hunting dogs isn’t for everyone. It’s not just a family pet, it’s bred to work for retrieving. A duck dog requires a lot of training and work to have a partner you can rely on in the duck blind. There are numerous waterfowl hunting dogs. To help you decide on whether you should pick that puppy at the kennel. Let’s take a quick look into what having a duck dog entails.
Picking a Breed – Waterfowl Hunting Dogs
The most common waterfowl hunting dogs are Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and Chesapeake Bay Retrievers. Common isn’t a bad thing at all, these breeds are quite available across each state from some of the best kennels in the world. These dogs have retrieving bred so deep into their blood it’s all they can think of. I contest to that, I have a 4 year old Black Lab that if it was up to him he would duck hunt 365 days a year and never quit retrieving until he collapsed. He’s had this drive ever since I picked him up from Garden City, Missouri as a puppy.
However, because these breeds are so available, doesn’t mean all their pedigrees are created equal. Doing your research and meeting with the trainers and kennels is a necessary vetting process for finding the best temperament and type of dog you are looking for. I won’t get into the politics of what retriever is better or the even best duck dog. Rather these breeds have hunting in their blood. What does make the best dog is the patience you have for training and taking care of your dog.
Puppy – Waterfowl Hunting Dogs
So you found a breeder and a litter with a puppy you are planning on taking home to raise as your best friend in the duck blind. It seems like common sense, but every year I hear hunters expecting their puppy to perform in the field as a seasoned duck dog. Sorry, just because we spend $1,500 on a puppy that has a solid pedigree doesn’t mean it will be a retriever as a 4-month puppy. They’re just that puppies, they need to be exposed to hunting elements, but the main goal as an owner is to get your puppy house trained and learning simple commands like sit and walking well on a leash. Puppies will be puppies no matter their pedigree, they will still chew through your favorite duck call and probably pee in the house or kennel a few times. So be patient and enjoy the ride. The real training begins when your puppy can follow your simple commands.
Training – Waterfowl Hunting Dogs
Training waterfowl hunting dogs can be a lot of fun however it never happens overnight. It requires a lot of time. The goal in mind for everyone is to have a duck dog that can pick up birds for them while hunting. However, there are a few paths to get there. There isn’t a better one but rather the balance of time and money. To become a successful duck dog, time is the number one requirement. Dogs require learning a task repeatedly in small increments until it becomes a habit and learned trait.
Therefore, not everyone has 20 hours a week to train their dog. You may have kids in evening sports, travel for work, or maybe you understand you won’t have the patience and space to train a dog. Hence, they look for a trainer to help train their duck dog. There are a lot of trainers around the nation that will understand the capabilities of your dog. That are great at training a duck dog for you. The caveat being the cost, typically dogs will go through steps to becoming a finished dog. Requiring you to board your dog with a trainer for a few months at a time. That can cost $500-$1000 a month.
The obvious alternative is to consider saving the cost and investing your own time as an owner and read up and learn as much as you can on how to train your own dog. I know quite a few owners that have produced some amazing gun dogs by training themselves. So when purchasing a duck dog determine what type of route you are taking with training.
Waterfowl Hunting Dogs Continued Care and Nutrition
Duck dogs require more than the usual house pet, of course, you have your yearly veterinary visits. However, duck dogs spend a lot of time in rugged and rough environments. More than likely in the time of owning a dog you will encounter some cuts abrasions, infections or issues. Be sure to know how to treat minor conditions that occur while hunting. As taking care of your dog is very important. Feeding them a nutrition that matches their performance and athletic nature is crucial. Allowing us to see the results we expect out of our waterfowl dogs. Feeding a basic blend of dog food is not going to cut it when we take 4-day hunting trips. Expecting them to retrieve 10-20 birds a day. There have even been studies proving that proper nutrition and clean water will increase the number of birds dogs will find.
Therefore make sure you spending a little extra money for dog food and nutrition. This will go a long way in prolonging your duck dog’s health. Think of your dog as a true investment of your time and money. You want your dog to be with you performing at peak performance for as many years possible. There are even products on the market that are tailored to gun dogs. To help supply our dogs with the proper nutrition to prevent joint and hip pain maintaining a health gun dog. Check out this gun dog nutrition to make sure you are giving your dog the nutrition required for a long life of duck hunting. If you are interested in a great article on Omega 3 supplements check this article out. The writer gives a break down how omega 3 supplements can help your gun dog.
Last but not least, it’s time to put that hard work and money to great use, hunting. Being able to hunt with your dog is what it all comes down to. Not every day will your dog be on its game. However, everyone has that one story where their dog retrieved the unthinkable and unrecoverable bird. Being able to share your hunts with your dog is the most rewarding part of having a dog. They are always ready to hunt and are always looking to please you.