Please Sign In

Please enter a valid username and password
  • Log in with Facebook
» Not a member? Take a moment to register
» Forgot Username or Password

Why Register?
Signing up could earn you gear (click here to learn how)! It also keeps offensive content off our site.

How To Turn Your Pup Into a Boat Dog

Recent Comments

Categories

Recent Posts

Archives

Syndicate

Google Reader or Homepage
Add to My Yahoo!
Add to My AOL

Man's Best Friend
in your Inbox

Enter your email address to get our new post everyday.

November 30, 2009

How To Turn Your Pup Into a Boat Dog

By David DiBenedetto

When it came to being a boat dog Pritchard had no choice. When she and I are not in the woods, we’re in a boat trying to catch some fish. Since Pritch was a puppy I’ve been taking her with me on almost every outing, and she now has an excellent pair of sea legs. But not every gun dog takes to a boat with ease, especially in the smaller crafts we use to hunt ducks. This is not something you want to discover on opening morning.

Here are a few ways to insure your pup will hop right in (and out) when it comes time to float for some birds:

Beach the Boat: If you have access to a small johnboat, drag it up on shore and have your pup jump in and out while the boat is stable. Let her sniff around and explore until her heart is content.

Puddle Jumper: Next, pull the boat down to the water’s edge so that it’s sitting in a couple of inches of water but relatively stable. With pup aboard, make a short toss with a bumper and let her hop overboard and retrieve it. When she seems unfazed by the new platform, move out to deeper water.

Grab the Bird First: When pup swims back to the boat, be sure to reach down and grab the bird before hauling her in (see below). Leaving the bird in her mouth while you lift her aboard may cause her to clamp down, possibly leading to the dreaded hard mouth.

Up and Over: While some dog vests now have grab handles, lifting a dog aboard is not difficult. Reach down for the scruff of her neck and lift. When her front legs are over the gunwale, apply a bit of downward pressure to give her enough leverage to hop in.

Make It Easy: There are a few modifications that can be made to small boats to make pup’s experiences on the water a bit easier. Place some non-skid tape around areas where your pup will need some extra grip, so she’s not banging her knees or slipping off of seats. Also, bring a carpet square and designate it as her place. Work on this both on and off the water, and she will know her spot when it’s time to hunt.

Like all lessons, the above should not be done in one day. Take your time and progress forward when your pup is ready. If anyone has any other boat-dog tips feel free to share. I, for one, have never used a dog ramp to haul a dog aboard, but I do know some duck hunters love them.

Comments (15)

Top Rated
All Comments
from finch147 wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

i do most of my duck hunting from blinds but when i get a dog this advice will come in handy especialy knowing to take the bird first. have you used the ladders made for dogs? i have a 17' deep v that will be a duck boat next year. thanks for the great column too.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dave DiBenedetto wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

finch147--Haven't used the dog ladders but some readers here may have. I imagine they might chime in. -Dave

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from pinopolis wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

great info! i'm a big fan of the non-skid tape.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from kelmitch wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

Thanks,great stuff Dave.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Brittle wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

oh yea pritchard is so great what
good stuff but dont brag

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ss3 wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

That is a terrble thing to do with ur dog, how dare u, i hope it gets sick of it and bites u all

-6 Good Comment? | | Report
from coho310 wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

ss3-you are one resilliant weed, what will it take to make you leave!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Quackwacker wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

Good Info Dave! how did you and Pritch do on opening day?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kinzuakid13 wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

Nice info! i have to try this with my pup.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dave DiBenedetto wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

Quack-- We went out after some sea ducks in the tidal areas but nothing much to report on (and we just didn't have the tides/water for marsh hens).

Looking forward to the second season in December when we'll be hunting woodies in a small swamp...a perfect setup for the pup. -D

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Robert Ewing wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

Nice tip on taking the bird first that could be easily overlooked.Was the boykin bred for water?Pritch looks proportionately longer than taller,I guess I'm asking what is the standard?
By the way,I don't agree with any late thanksgiving comments,she's a good looking dog.[ she is no brittany....haha ]

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dave DiBenedetto wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

Robert Ewing-- I'm biased, but Pritch is a one heck of a good-looking pup. As for being bred for water and boats - that's one reason we got her. Here's the official lingo from the Boykin Spaniel Society...

"The Boykin Spaniel was first bred by South Carolina hunters during the 1900's to provide the ideal dog for hunting ducks and wild turkeys in the Wateree River Swamp. Hunters on South Carolina's Wateree River needed a small rugged dog compactly built for boat travel and able to retrieve on land and water."

I can attest, she swims like a fish, and as mentioned above, is super on small boats.

-D

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

Most folks don't know it, but the lab retriever was bred for the same purpose, i.e. boat work. Newfoundland fishermen originally perfected the breed to help bring in cod lines. The team of fisherman and dog would often spend days, if not weeks, together alone out in a small boat. Hence the breeding encouraged friendly disposition as much as retrieving ability. A couple hundred years ago a pair of these dogs was rescued from a shipwreck off the coast of England and the present breed was perfected by mixing in genes from several other dogs (spaniels, setters, and even bloodhound). However, the trademark disposition and retrieving instict have been preserved. I think we can all agree that this will probably be Canada's most lasting contribution to the world. It is interesting that a country that today prides itself on its peacekeeping role would be the source of such a loving and peaceful dog.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

I have always lifted my dogs in the boat and over fences the same way, i.e. by the scruff of the neck and grabbing a handful of skin on the back over the haunches. A neoprene vest with handles on it would be ideal but only if they can be made so that the handles don't get tangled in anything. I have never taken the bird from my dogs before lifting and it hasn't created any problems with hard-mouth yet, but that doesn't mean it can't. At least one dog (my best one) probably wouldn't have given up the bird anyway. Not till she was in the boat. My dogs have been smaller labs usually in the 65 lb range or less (in hunting condition) so lifting them hasn't been a big deal. But for those dogs that are a hundred pounds or more, a platform or ladder would probably be essential. Sorry, but I would not be inclined to use the brisket on a dog as a lever to get them in the boat. That's unconfortable (especially for the big dogs!) and will make them struggle. If they start thrashing they could get hurt. And if they associate getting into the boat with a painful experience, they're liable to take that duck and go to shore and wait for you. I think one of the best ways to train a dog for lifting in and out of a boat is to start working on lifting them in the field. My dogs know to hunker up and be still so I can grab them by the scruffs and lift them safely over the fence. All I have to do is call them and reach down and they're getting ready. They know that the sooner they settle down, the sooner they're safely over the fence and we're off and hunting. Now, when they swim to the boat and I reach down to grab them in the same places, they instinctively know what to expect and what to do - be still and let me do my work to help them.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

You can also get your dog used to lifting by insisting that it be lifted into a pickup bed rather than letting it jump in (which is safer anyway). If they insist on jumping in, leave the tailgate up and lift them over it. Usually dogs are nuts about going for a ride and will let you do just about anything to them first. They will get the hang of cooperating with you VERY quickly.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from coho310 wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

ss3-you are one resilliant weed, what will it take to make you leave!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dave DiBenedetto wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

finch147--Haven't used the dog ladders but some readers here may have. I imagine they might chime in. -Dave

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from finch147 wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

i do most of my duck hunting from blinds but when i get a dog this advice will come in handy especialy knowing to take the bird first. have you used the ladders made for dogs? i have a 17' deep v that will be a duck boat next year. thanks for the great column too.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from pinopolis wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

great info! i'm a big fan of the non-skid tape.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from kelmitch wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

Thanks,great stuff Dave.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Quackwacker wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

Good Info Dave! how did you and Pritch do on opening day?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kinzuakid13 wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

Nice info! i have to try this with my pup.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dave DiBenedetto wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

Quack-- We went out after some sea ducks in the tidal areas but nothing much to report on (and we just didn't have the tides/water for marsh hens).

Looking forward to the second season in December when we'll be hunting woodies in a small swamp...a perfect setup for the pup. -D

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Robert Ewing wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

Nice tip on taking the bird first that could be easily overlooked.Was the boykin bred for water?Pritch looks proportionately longer than taller,I guess I'm asking what is the standard?
By the way,I don't agree with any late thanksgiving comments,she's a good looking dog.[ she is no brittany....haha ]

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dave DiBenedetto wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

Robert Ewing-- I'm biased, but Pritch is a one heck of a good-looking pup. As for being bred for water and boats - that's one reason we got her. Here's the official lingo from the Boykin Spaniel Society...

"The Boykin Spaniel was first bred by South Carolina hunters during the 1900's to provide the ideal dog for hunting ducks and wild turkeys in the Wateree River Swamp. Hunters on South Carolina's Wateree River needed a small rugged dog compactly built for boat travel and able to retrieve on land and water."

I can attest, she swims like a fish, and as mentioned above, is super on small boats.

-D

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

Most folks don't know it, but the lab retriever was bred for the same purpose, i.e. boat work. Newfoundland fishermen originally perfected the breed to help bring in cod lines. The team of fisherman and dog would often spend days, if not weeks, together alone out in a small boat. Hence the breeding encouraged friendly disposition as much as retrieving ability. A couple hundred years ago a pair of these dogs was rescued from a shipwreck off the coast of England and the present breed was perfected by mixing in genes from several other dogs (spaniels, setters, and even bloodhound). However, the trademark disposition and retrieving instict have been preserved. I think we can all agree that this will probably be Canada's most lasting contribution to the world. It is interesting that a country that today prides itself on its peacekeeping role would be the source of such a loving and peaceful dog.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

I have always lifted my dogs in the boat and over fences the same way, i.e. by the scruff of the neck and grabbing a handful of skin on the back over the haunches. A neoprene vest with handles on it would be ideal but only if they can be made so that the handles don't get tangled in anything. I have never taken the bird from my dogs before lifting and it hasn't created any problems with hard-mouth yet, but that doesn't mean it can't. At least one dog (my best one) probably wouldn't have given up the bird anyway. Not till she was in the boat. My dogs have been smaller labs usually in the 65 lb range or less (in hunting condition) so lifting them hasn't been a big deal. But for those dogs that are a hundred pounds or more, a platform or ladder would probably be essential. Sorry, but I would not be inclined to use the brisket on a dog as a lever to get them in the boat. That's unconfortable (especially for the big dogs!) and will make them struggle. If they start thrashing they could get hurt. And if they associate getting into the boat with a painful experience, they're liable to take that duck and go to shore and wait for you. I think one of the best ways to train a dog for lifting in and out of a boat is to start working on lifting them in the field. My dogs know to hunker up and be still so I can grab them by the scruffs and lift them safely over the fence. All I have to do is call them and reach down and they're getting ready. They know that the sooner they settle down, the sooner they're safely over the fence and we're off and hunting. Now, when they swim to the boat and I reach down to grab them in the same places, they instinctively know what to expect and what to do - be still and let me do my work to help them.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

You can also get your dog used to lifting by insisting that it be lifted into a pickup bed rather than letting it jump in (which is safer anyway). If they insist on jumping in, leave the tailgate up and lift them over it. Usually dogs are nuts about going for a ride and will let you do just about anything to them first. They will get the hang of cooperating with you VERY quickly.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Brittle wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

oh yea pritchard is so great what
good stuff but dont brag

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ss3 wrote 4 years 20 weeks ago

That is a terrble thing to do with ur dog, how dare u, i hope it gets sick of it and bites u all

-6 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

bmxbiz-fs