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Why Don't You Have a Bird Dog?

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July 06, 2012

Why Don't You Have a Bird Dog?

By Chad Love

I was visiting family last weekend, and as I always do when I'm back in "civilization," I took a few hours to hit all the hometown bookstores, used and otherwise, that I grew up haunting. And it was at (where else) my local Barnes & Noble, as I was standing at the newsstand leafing through the various hook-and-bullet periodicals, that the guy standing next to me doing the same asked if I was a bird hunter.

I replied in the affirmative, and so in that universal manner in which two kindred souls hopelessly surrounded by alien lifeforms (In this case multitudes of post-pubescent celebrity rag readers) bond as a means of mutual survival, we chatted for a few minutes. As it (so often, these days) turns out, he was primarily a deer and turkey hunter, but also professed a keen interest in duck and pheasant hunting. I asked him if he owned a dog, and (again, as is often, these days) he replied that he didn't, and in fact had never owned a hunting dog of any kind.

I was not surprised. It's no secret that the number of bird and waterfowl-hunting gundog owners is dwarfed by the number of non-dog-owning deer and turkey hunters. As someone who, given a choice, will take some form of dog/bird combination over a big-game animal any day, this reality pains me, but demographically speaking, it is what it is, and it probably 'aint gonna change.

The fact is, it's a helluva lot easier to build a multibillion dollar industry and entertainment culture around outlandish antlers, outlandish products and outlandish personalities than it is to try to mass-market the introspective, understated and not terribly television-friendly nature of hunting with dogs. But the fact remains that there are still a large number of bird and waterfowl hunters out there, and a whole bunch of them do so without a dog, either by choice or circumstance.

I can certainly commiserate. I didn't get my first real hunting dog until I was in college. Prior to that I either hunted behind someone else's dogs or I busted my own brush. I certainly enjoyed hunting behind dogs, and was enthralled with them. I just wasn't in a situation where it was possible for me to have one. And I never really felt handicapped by it, to tell the truth. But then, of course, I got my first retriever, then my first pointing dog, and everything changed. Like many of you, I now hunt with dogs to the almost-exclusion of everything else, and if I were forced go back to bird and duck hunting without their company, I'd probably just say to hell with it all and go learn something horrid like golf.

But that's me, and I'm not so myopic that I think everyone else does or should think like me. Which is why I'm curious about hearing some alternate perspectives today: not necessarily from gundog owners (although you can certainly chime in) but from the non gundog-owning bird and/or duck/and or small game hunting readers (I know there are a few of you). What are your reasons for not having a dog? Is it due to circumstance or choice? If it's choice, do you think a dog doesn't fit your particular style of hunting, or do you think you're simply more efficient on your own? If you'd like to own a gundog, but don't due to circumstances, what are they? Your living arrangement? Lack of space? Nowhere to train? Can't afford to? Overall, what do you see as the biggest impediments to gundog ownership?

Comments (36)

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from Sayfu wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

Expensive,... wife doesn't like the dog around. He barks, and upsets the neighbors...no time to train the dog. We have youngsters, and they get preference over a dog. Anyone think of anything else?

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from tpbesone wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

I think a big thing with most people is time. Dogs take a lot of time the first 2 years. After that once the training is in they require less time but that and space are probably the big two. I will say this to the comment about having kids around. I have a young daughter and a lab and those two are best friends. Our dog gets much more attention around the house since the little one came along.

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from vasportsman wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

All of the above, would love to get into the sport and train a dog, but for almost all the reasons (excuses) you mentioned, it is just not feasible right now. I am just a few years out of college and working and living in town, recently married trying to make ends meet, don't know anyone who does hunt with dogs and don't know where to go (although I am working on that) I do have a place to train, however it is an hour away (in-laws) so I hunt turkey and deer on the weekends, and fish when it is not season. I look at it the same way I do fishing with a bass boat, as a luxury that I just can't have right now even though I desperately want it, just have to be patient.

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from Hurckles wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

perhaps like your new besty from the bookstore, i'm a deer hunter whose become infatuated with getting into the bird game. I own a lab, but he's almost 7 and was not trained for hunting. I'm definitly interested in a bird dog when the time is right. I can't see enjoying the field or marsh as much without the company of man's best friend, and besides, their noses and ears are better than mine. so rest assured when the time is right i'll be hunting behind a dog or two.

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from E_Blair wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

I had one of those wire haired Dachshunds for blood tracking deer. They were said to be family friendly dogs, but with two young children, the dog just took up too much time with training and getting out to hunt. The dog would bite, not wanting to give up something like a rawhide chew. I just got tired of this over aggressiveness, sitting in the corner growling at anyone who got too close. So the dog went back to the breeders. That said, I would like to get a lab as a good all around dog. Something like that might have a better temper.

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from lil hunter wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

Ive always had a wiemeraner growing up. Best bird dog ive had. I and another family we know got a yellow lad about 2 years ago from a local breeder who trains them for duck hunting. We trained the three dogs a couple time a week ad my dog jake loves seeing us grab are guns and is very good at swiming and retrieving

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from Josh Giannino wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

Im just starting college and aint home enoughtto spend time and create a bond with one, so my dads GSP will do for my companion hunting grouse, and pheasants these days, but in 4 years I hope to obtain a pointing chocolate lab,

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from Josh Giannino wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

Im just starting college and aint home enoughtto spend time and create a bond with one, so my dads GSP will do for my companion hunting grouse, and pheasants these days, but in 4 years I hope to obtain a pointing chocolate lab,

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from elijahsamuelburnett wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

ni bird dog here but how about coon and squirrel dogs

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from jcarlin wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

A bird dog would be great.. but I'll be the first to admit I don't think I could give it the time it needs between work, young family, and other priorities.
My compromise is my beagle. Not intending to insult true houndsmen, one of which I'm not, my largely untrained beagle instinctively does a whole lot of what I need him to do and puts up and pursues in circles about 10 rabbits to every one I managed to kick out of the brush. I will say if he's taught me anything it's that there really are few things like hunting over your own dog.

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from RES1956 wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

Dogs are just not for everybody, for whatever reason. To these poor souls, you have my sympathy. Personally I cold not see myself tromping the hill and dales of So. Dak. or standing in knee deep backwaters without a lab to tend to chasing cripples and digging out fallen roosters that I would have less than 1% chance of finding on my own.
If there ain't a dog, it just ain't bird huntin'.

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from gundogco wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

For me the biggest thing was time and probably ignorance. Because once you spend the time training a dog you realize it was definitely worth it and couldn't imagine hunting without them.
Blake,
GundogCo.com

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

The "time and space needed" factor is grossly overstated, in my opinion. I raised a great lab, probably the greatest I'll ever have, while I was going to college getting my BA. If you get the right breed and pick the right pup, they can pretty much raise themselves. A great bird dog doesn't have to be a whistle-trained robot. I have also raised labs while working and with a young family. Get a wire cage for the house until the dog is a year to year and half of age. Put the pup in the cage with a treat when you go to work. It will learn to not eat or drink and mostly sleep till the family gets home in the evening. Then it adjusts to what time it can get from you. That's a lab. Just make sure you raise the dog in the house so whatever time you have at home is spent with it. Living with a pup is "training" every second spent in contact. And it is so rewarding! It becomes a ballet of give and take on everyone's part. That is one of the best lessons to be learned in life.

This reminds me of the old myth that it takes a "special person to deal with kids with disabilities." That's BS and I speak with some authority on the subject since I was the father of an autistic son for fourteen wonderful years. The truth is it takes a special person to NOT be able to "deal with" special needs kids. And it's not a specialty that has much merit either! Same goes with all this mythology about needing so much time and space to devote to raising a bird dog. A good pup/dog will give much more than it takes. They don't know they need 1/4 acres fenced yard to run in if they are raised in a 9x12 living room. If that's all they know and if it's filled with love and companionship, that's all they care about. It has worked very well for me my entire life and I'll be sixty in a few weeks. Am on dog number six now. Will likely be well into my seventies when she is finished. Still, I doubt she'll be my last dog ... unless I die before she does.

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from upland wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

I too did not get a dog until after college. I didn't grow up with dogs and never got to hunt over one growing up but it always infatuated me. I think the biggest three reasons that people give for not having a dog are not enough space, time or money. I started my first bird dog while living in an apartment, and I am starting my second with small kids in the house. Most people overestimate the cost of training-and think that you have to have access to birds for all of it. The best advice I was ever given on bird dog training was to make sure you work on the discipline/obedience/understanding commands regularly and the birds when they are available. You can't teach your dog the bird part - that's what the breeding is for. Sure without the hundreds of birds a year that pro trainers can give their dogs your dog might be a little less steady on point for a couple of years but if you do your homework they will get there (and the journey is half the fun). I don't care whether you hunt over your dog or not, or whether your dog should be part of the rat family, discipline and training is essential for any dog. Given that you can raise and train a gundog in an appartment, with kids, or in any other situation. Most people just don't know where to get started and are not willing to make the kind of long term investment that training a dog requires. Turkey and deer hunting can give them gratification without the need for such intense background work and sad to say instant gratification is what our society is all about.

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from ITHACASXS wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

I know this much; if your dog is getting old or when you lose your faithful friend - Get another RIGHT AWAY. It won't be such a big shock to your non-doggie spouse.

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from jakenbake wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

I'm stuck in a city, barely spend any time at home, the place I'm renting now doesn't allow dogs, and to be honest I just don't have the money. None of this changes the goal of having a gun dog when the time is right. Living on (rather, near) the Chesapeake, it seems like a minor crime to not have a good duck dog... That said, I have no idea how to train the dog and I'm sure I'll screw up. But I'm looking forward to the journey.

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from SD Bob wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

I grew up with no dog and my first is a golden retriever, a gift from my wife. I knew nothing about training a hunting dog but started with basic commands like sit, stay, come and no. We had Ruff Grouse and Woodcock as birds to chase. I think she did okay. Together we found out squirrels were fun together too. I moved to South Dakota and a few months later we went after pheasants. Great dog, but not a great pheasant hunter. A co-worker had a lab that had puppies and I bought one. She is awsome. She points, retrieves, flushes and does a great job. I taught her the basics I spoke of earlier and her insticts did the rest. I am not a "trainer" but being a lab surely helps with my training inexperience. Once they figure out what is going, on all they want to do is go and please. You don't have to spend a fortune, my lab was $200, you don't have to be an expert, just spend a bit of time every day. If you have time to read and respond on any of the blog's here, you have time! My wife accuses me of loving my dogs more than her, she's wrong, but I do love my dogs. I went on a combo hunt last fall with deer hunting in the morning, sharptails during mid-day and deer hunting in the evening and the bird hunting was nothing short of a big waste of time because I didn't enjoy it at all without my dog. When I came home with three birds though, my dog was still happy to see me.

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from LostLure wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

I am a proud owner of a golden and a lab. Although purchasing them with out the intent of taking them hunting (they are just great all around good family dog), I did take my lab pheasant hunting. He was about 1 1/2 and my buddy asked me if I wanted to go pheasant hunting with him, so I went and took my lab with me. I did absolutly no training with him whatsoever, but when we got into the field, his instincts just took over. He pointed a few, flushed a few and retrieved them all. The more often we went, the better he got, and the more encouragement I gave him, the harder he worked to please me. Even without training, you can still enjoy hunting with your dog.

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from wisc14 wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

time and money have to be the biggest reasons. i think anyone can have time to train a gun dog, however they choose to spend their time doing something else. for example: most people my age friday nights are going out to the bars while i am training and exercising my dog. most folks seem to sleep in saturday mornings, while i am up at the crack of dawn letting the pup tear around the woods and get some exercise. its all about how you choose to spend your time

i am new to owning/training/hunting with gun dogs. i will say what i have found is this: it is a big committment of time, energy, and yes money, however, it is EXTREMELY rewarding and i you can't get a much better bond that you can with a good dog

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from RES1956 wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

@ Lost Lure: You have trained that dog more than you realize. Training, on the part of the owner, is not always a conscious endeavor yet the animal is always learning, whether it is in the house or in the field, so be careful what you let them get away with.
Ex-communicated Blackdawgz once posted on this site that the more expensive a puppy because of titles in the pedigree, the less training was required. I have found that to be true, if a competant trainer was doing the training.
Training a Labrador to do what 95% of hunters want a lab to do is not difficult or time comsuming and that is to pick up dead birds on land and water and that can be accomplished by the time the puppy is 6 months old, it's the other stuff that requires a bit more expertise on the trainers part and more smarts on the dogs part.

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from Teodoro wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

Don't forget that the changing ecology of America favors deer and turkey at the expense of small game in much of the country, squirrels excepted. I'd love to have a dog, but time/space/expense aside, there are very few birds to hunt with one here.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

Teodoro, a gander through the road atlas and phone call to Atlas Moving Van company could fix that problem for you. I couldn't live very long in a place that didn't have reasonably accessible bird hunting.

RES, the best hunting dog I have owned or, in fact, have ever even seen in action was half lab and half golden. No papers for that pooch. Opal doesn't have papers either and you'd be hard-pressed to find a better companion or more dedicated bird hunter. I knew from looking at her in the litter she was going to be a good one. The girl wanted $220 but I was only passing through on a business trip. Told her that she was asking way too much for unpapered dogs but if she still had "THAT pup" when I came back through in four days hence, I'd give her the $220. She said she'd better get some toenail polish. I said there was no need - I'd know which one she was. But she was afraid she'd lose track and let her go to someone else before I got back. That dog was overpriced but she was a bargain!

Picking dogs up at shelters is really hit and miss. And, I'm sorry, but my experience with OTHER'S choices has been mostly misses! I have seen some WONDERFUL dogs from the shelters, but for every one of them I have seen a hundred duds! And if you bring a dud into the house and expect to just be able to throw it in the rig and take it back to the shelter ... pffft! Think again! Your family would tie you to the stake and burn your arse alive! No, you're stuck with that thing, often as not someone else's headache, for the duration. Buy a pup and you do the shaping. Don't waste your time trying to undo what someone else may have already screwed up. The hard thing about going to the shelter and looking at adult dogs is it will be almost impossible to get out of there without one. The family will harbor all kinds of evil images in the back of their minds about what will happen to the dogs that aren't taken. Hell, I'm not sure I could walk out without one! So I stay the heck away.

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from tlbroke3 wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

I am 15 and have grown up with my bird dog, she is a german short haired pointer, best damn dog you can have! she is a great companion. She is almost 11 and can spend 5 hours still just hitting the brush looking for birds with her old age, you gotta find the right breed of dog that first fits what you like then second what fits your hunting. My dog started as an outside dog but is now an indoor because of a move to a more neighborhood move. She was trained by my father and I and does great out in the fields, any time we grab the guns shes there to load up. I couldnt ask for a better dog, she also gets along with our two dachshunds really well so If your wanting to get a bird dog. my suggestion, german short haired pointer.

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from Teodoro wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

OHH,

Believe me, it's on my list of criteria for the next place I go, but I'll be here for at least another year, looks like. In the meantime, I'm poring over maps trying to find a few decent trips I can work in.

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from Buckshott00 wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

I am one of those unfortunates whose circumstance doesn't allow me to have a dog.
I can't have them because the property I live in doesn't allow pets of any kind.
This is extremely hard as I have trained Labs and Brittany's for Waterfowl and Upland bird hunting.
If it wasn't for the lease agreement I would have a dog!

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from Josh Giannino wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

tlbroke3- i agree GSPs are fantastic dogs, but not the perfect dog, they are bull headed, and stubborn. a lab is alot more coopertaive and capable of more then just pheasant hunting.

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from RJ Arena wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

I have a bird dog again, and yes, she is a lot of responsibility, a lot of time,(that I could be at the range), but I know it will be worth it. I have had times in my life when I did not have any dog much less a bird dog, and I prefer those times with one, life is so much happier with one than without.

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from missedit wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

Lets go hunting!!!!!!

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

RJ: Let's see ... time spent on the range ruining my hearing and expending lots of money blowing holes in paper or time spent with my dogs at home or in the field? Hmmmmm. That one's a no brainer!

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

E Blair,

Don't take for granted that a Lab will always be good natured and the perfect family dawg. The only dog bite I have ever suffered was by a friend's Lab, twice in the same day. Dog was so bad that no one would hunt with him. My black dawg has the disposition of a Rottweiler, but he is a hunting machine. My other pup is a sweetie. You need to really assess the sire and dam's disposition before selecting a pup. I made that mistake ... once.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

Very good point, WAM. Labs are famous for their sweet disposition but it's never a given. I had one once that didn't like little kids. She was okay with them, just stayed away. Would go to the opposite end of the house. The chocolate lab we had before Pearl was very protective of the house and especially the car. But she was fine with people she'd meet out walking in the park. Very friendly then. Guy across the street got drunk one night and walked into our house uannounced at 3:00 a.m. She actually took a piece out of him. I would have prefered a dog that was less agressive in any circumstance. 911 is my preferred method of conflict resolution. I have to say, there was no indication whatsoever that Sophie's mother was anything but a sweet dog. You just never know.

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from MvilleBrittGuy wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

Sorry I'll read your article later. The real question is why WOULDN'T you have a bird dog or more specifically a dog of the sporting group? They may be busy but are calm yet happy to meet other people and dogs for the most part. Well generally happy and willing to please.

What more could you want?

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from MvilleBrittGuy wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

Other than the Beagle I got by compromise due to size allowance by home owners association rules the only dogs I've owned. 2 Golden's and two Britt's.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

Wow, the homeowners association allowed beagles but not labs? Little dogs are the ones that are invariably noisy nippy neighborhood nuisances. Pretty dumb move if you ask me. I would go right out of my mind if I had to live in a community full of pomeranians, teacup poodles, and shizsuis. About go nuts just thinking about it. Uggh!

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

OHH,

Well put. Around here, those lap & yap breeds you mentioned are coyote and cougar bait. We have had 2 small dogs disappear close by us this year. I never let my small pup out of sight outdoors. The big dawg I don't worry about.

My big dawg loves kids, the smaller the better, espacially the girls it seems. If they scratch him behind the ears, he will drool and eventually fall over into seventh heaven or wherever Labs go in ecstacy! Too soon to see how the little yellow pup will turn out.

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from JHabrial wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Right now I'm just being patient. I'm graduating from college in a few months, and once I get settled into a place and a job its right near the top of the list. My wife and I are excited to get a dog and we're planning on a GSP I've never hunted over dogs, but have really wanted to. I know that I just have to wait until I can really give the dog the time it needs (and also be in a place where I won't have to write papers on the weekends I want to be hunting).

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

The "time and space needed" factor is grossly overstated, in my opinion. I raised a great lab, probably the greatest I'll ever have, while I was going to college getting my BA. If you get the right breed and pick the right pup, they can pretty much raise themselves. A great bird dog doesn't have to be a whistle-trained robot. I have also raised labs while working and with a young family. Get a wire cage for the house until the dog is a year to year and half of age. Put the pup in the cage with a treat when you go to work. It will learn to not eat or drink and mostly sleep till the family gets home in the evening. Then it adjusts to what time it can get from you. That's a lab. Just make sure you raise the dog in the house so whatever time you have at home is spent with it. Living with a pup is "training" every second spent in contact. And it is so rewarding! It becomes a ballet of give and take on everyone's part. That is one of the best lessons to be learned in life.

This reminds me of the old myth that it takes a "special person to deal with kids with disabilities." That's BS and I speak with some authority on the subject since I was the father of an autistic son for fourteen wonderful years. The truth is it takes a special person to NOT be able to "deal with" special needs kids. And it's not a specialty that has much merit either! Same goes with all this mythology about needing so much time and space to devote to raising a bird dog. A good pup/dog will give much more than it takes. They don't know they need 1/4 acres fenced yard to run in if they are raised in a 9x12 living room. If that's all they know and if it's filled with love and companionship, that's all they care about. It has worked very well for me my entire life and I'll be sixty in a few weeks. Am on dog number six now. Will likely be well into my seventies when she is finished. Still, I doubt she'll be my last dog ... unless I die before she does.

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from lil hunter wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

Ive always had a wiemeraner growing up. Best bird dog ive had. I and another family we know got a yellow lad about 2 years ago from a local breeder who trains them for duck hunting. We trained the three dogs a couple time a week ad my dog jake loves seeing us grab are guns and is very good at swiming and retrieving

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from tpbesone wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

I think a big thing with most people is time. Dogs take a lot of time the first 2 years. After that once the training is in they require less time but that and space are probably the big two. I will say this to the comment about having kids around. I have a young daughter and a lab and those two are best friends. Our dog gets much more attention around the house since the little one came along.

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from jcarlin wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

A bird dog would be great.. but I'll be the first to admit I don't think I could give it the time it needs between work, young family, and other priorities.
My compromise is my beagle. Not intending to insult true houndsmen, one of which I'm not, my largely untrained beagle instinctively does a whole lot of what I need him to do and puts up and pursues in circles about 10 rabbits to every one I managed to kick out of the brush. I will say if he's taught me anything it's that there really are few things like hunting over your own dog.

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from Sayfu wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

Expensive,... wife doesn't like the dog around. He barks, and upsets the neighbors...no time to train the dog. We have youngsters, and they get preference over a dog. Anyone think of anything else?

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from vasportsman wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

All of the above, would love to get into the sport and train a dog, but for almost all the reasons (excuses) you mentioned, it is just not feasible right now. I am just a few years out of college and working and living in town, recently married trying to make ends meet, don't know anyone who does hunt with dogs and don't know where to go (although I am working on that) I do have a place to train, however it is an hour away (in-laws) so I hunt turkey and deer on the weekends, and fish when it is not season. I look at it the same way I do fishing with a bass boat, as a luxury that I just can't have right now even though I desperately want it, just have to be patient.

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from Hurckles wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

perhaps like your new besty from the bookstore, i'm a deer hunter whose become infatuated with getting into the bird game. I own a lab, but he's almost 7 and was not trained for hunting. I'm definitly interested in a bird dog when the time is right. I can't see enjoying the field or marsh as much without the company of man's best friend, and besides, their noses and ears are better than mine. so rest assured when the time is right i'll be hunting behind a dog or two.

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from E_Blair wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

I had one of those wire haired Dachshunds for blood tracking deer. They were said to be family friendly dogs, but with two young children, the dog just took up too much time with training and getting out to hunt. The dog would bite, not wanting to give up something like a rawhide chew. I just got tired of this over aggressiveness, sitting in the corner growling at anyone who got too close. So the dog went back to the breeders. That said, I would like to get a lab as a good all around dog. Something like that might have a better temper.

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from Josh Giannino wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

Im just starting college and aint home enoughtto spend time and create a bond with one, so my dads GSP will do for my companion hunting grouse, and pheasants these days, but in 4 years I hope to obtain a pointing chocolate lab,

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from Josh Giannino wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

Im just starting college and aint home enoughtto spend time and create a bond with one, so my dads GSP will do for my companion hunting grouse, and pheasants these days, but in 4 years I hope to obtain a pointing chocolate lab,

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from elijahsamuelburnett wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

ni bird dog here but how about coon and squirrel dogs

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from RES1956 wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

Dogs are just not for everybody, for whatever reason. To these poor souls, you have my sympathy. Personally I cold not see myself tromping the hill and dales of So. Dak. or standing in knee deep backwaters without a lab to tend to chasing cripples and digging out fallen roosters that I would have less than 1% chance of finding on my own.
If there ain't a dog, it just ain't bird huntin'.

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from gundogco wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

For me the biggest thing was time and probably ignorance. Because once you spend the time training a dog you realize it was definitely worth it and couldn't imagine hunting without them.
Blake,
GundogCo.com

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from upland wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

I too did not get a dog until after college. I didn't grow up with dogs and never got to hunt over one growing up but it always infatuated me. I think the biggest three reasons that people give for not having a dog are not enough space, time or money. I started my first bird dog while living in an apartment, and I am starting my second with small kids in the house. Most people overestimate the cost of training-and think that you have to have access to birds for all of it. The best advice I was ever given on bird dog training was to make sure you work on the discipline/obedience/understanding commands regularly and the birds when they are available. You can't teach your dog the bird part - that's what the breeding is for. Sure without the hundreds of birds a year that pro trainers can give their dogs your dog might be a little less steady on point for a couple of years but if you do your homework they will get there (and the journey is half the fun). I don't care whether you hunt over your dog or not, or whether your dog should be part of the rat family, discipline and training is essential for any dog. Given that you can raise and train a gundog in an appartment, with kids, or in any other situation. Most people just don't know where to get started and are not willing to make the kind of long term investment that training a dog requires. Turkey and deer hunting can give them gratification without the need for such intense background work and sad to say instant gratification is what our society is all about.

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from ITHACASXS wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

I know this much; if your dog is getting old or when you lose your faithful friend - Get another RIGHT AWAY. It won't be such a big shock to your non-doggie spouse.

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from jakenbake wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

I'm stuck in a city, barely spend any time at home, the place I'm renting now doesn't allow dogs, and to be honest I just don't have the money. None of this changes the goal of having a gun dog when the time is right. Living on (rather, near) the Chesapeake, it seems like a minor crime to not have a good duck dog... That said, I have no idea how to train the dog and I'm sure I'll screw up. But I'm looking forward to the journey.

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from SD Bob wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

I grew up with no dog and my first is a golden retriever, a gift from my wife. I knew nothing about training a hunting dog but started with basic commands like sit, stay, come and no. We had Ruff Grouse and Woodcock as birds to chase. I think she did okay. Together we found out squirrels were fun together too. I moved to South Dakota and a few months later we went after pheasants. Great dog, but not a great pheasant hunter. A co-worker had a lab that had puppies and I bought one. She is awsome. She points, retrieves, flushes and does a great job. I taught her the basics I spoke of earlier and her insticts did the rest. I am not a "trainer" but being a lab surely helps with my training inexperience. Once they figure out what is going, on all they want to do is go and please. You don't have to spend a fortune, my lab was $200, you don't have to be an expert, just spend a bit of time every day. If you have time to read and respond on any of the blog's here, you have time! My wife accuses me of loving my dogs more than her, she's wrong, but I do love my dogs. I went on a combo hunt last fall with deer hunting in the morning, sharptails during mid-day and deer hunting in the evening and the bird hunting was nothing short of a big waste of time because I didn't enjoy it at all without my dog. When I came home with three birds though, my dog was still happy to see me.

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from LostLure wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

I am a proud owner of a golden and a lab. Although purchasing them with out the intent of taking them hunting (they are just great all around good family dog), I did take my lab pheasant hunting. He was about 1 1/2 and my buddy asked me if I wanted to go pheasant hunting with him, so I went and took my lab with me. I did absolutly no training with him whatsoever, but when we got into the field, his instincts just took over. He pointed a few, flushed a few and retrieved them all. The more often we went, the better he got, and the more encouragement I gave him, the harder he worked to please me. Even without training, you can still enjoy hunting with your dog.

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from wisc14 wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

time and money have to be the biggest reasons. i think anyone can have time to train a gun dog, however they choose to spend their time doing something else. for example: most people my age friday nights are going out to the bars while i am training and exercising my dog. most folks seem to sleep in saturday mornings, while i am up at the crack of dawn letting the pup tear around the woods and get some exercise. its all about how you choose to spend your time

i am new to owning/training/hunting with gun dogs. i will say what i have found is this: it is a big committment of time, energy, and yes money, however, it is EXTREMELY rewarding and i you can't get a much better bond that you can with a good dog

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from RES1956 wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

@ Lost Lure: You have trained that dog more than you realize. Training, on the part of the owner, is not always a conscious endeavor yet the animal is always learning, whether it is in the house or in the field, so be careful what you let them get away with.
Ex-communicated Blackdawgz once posted on this site that the more expensive a puppy because of titles in the pedigree, the less training was required. I have found that to be true, if a competant trainer was doing the training.
Training a Labrador to do what 95% of hunters want a lab to do is not difficult or time comsuming and that is to pick up dead birds on land and water and that can be accomplished by the time the puppy is 6 months old, it's the other stuff that requires a bit more expertise on the trainers part and more smarts on the dogs part.

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from Teodoro wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

Don't forget that the changing ecology of America favors deer and turkey at the expense of small game in much of the country, squirrels excepted. I'd love to have a dog, but time/space/expense aside, there are very few birds to hunt with one here.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

Teodoro, a gander through the road atlas and phone call to Atlas Moving Van company could fix that problem for you. I couldn't live very long in a place that didn't have reasonably accessible bird hunting.

RES, the best hunting dog I have owned or, in fact, have ever even seen in action was half lab and half golden. No papers for that pooch. Opal doesn't have papers either and you'd be hard-pressed to find a better companion or more dedicated bird hunter. I knew from looking at her in the litter she was going to be a good one. The girl wanted $220 but I was only passing through on a business trip. Told her that she was asking way too much for unpapered dogs but if she still had "THAT pup" when I came back through in four days hence, I'd give her the $220. She said she'd better get some toenail polish. I said there was no need - I'd know which one she was. But she was afraid she'd lose track and let her go to someone else before I got back. That dog was overpriced but she was a bargain!

Picking dogs up at shelters is really hit and miss. And, I'm sorry, but my experience with OTHER'S choices has been mostly misses! I have seen some WONDERFUL dogs from the shelters, but for every one of them I have seen a hundred duds! And if you bring a dud into the house and expect to just be able to throw it in the rig and take it back to the shelter ... pffft! Think again! Your family would tie you to the stake and burn your arse alive! No, you're stuck with that thing, often as not someone else's headache, for the duration. Buy a pup and you do the shaping. Don't waste your time trying to undo what someone else may have already screwed up. The hard thing about going to the shelter and looking at adult dogs is it will be almost impossible to get out of there without one. The family will harbor all kinds of evil images in the back of their minds about what will happen to the dogs that aren't taken. Hell, I'm not sure I could walk out without one! So I stay the heck away.

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from tlbroke3 wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

I am 15 and have grown up with my bird dog, she is a german short haired pointer, best damn dog you can have! she is a great companion. She is almost 11 and can spend 5 hours still just hitting the brush looking for birds with her old age, you gotta find the right breed of dog that first fits what you like then second what fits your hunting. My dog started as an outside dog but is now an indoor because of a move to a more neighborhood move. She was trained by my father and I and does great out in the fields, any time we grab the guns shes there to load up. I couldnt ask for a better dog, she also gets along with our two dachshunds really well so If your wanting to get a bird dog. my suggestion, german short haired pointer.

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from Teodoro wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

OHH,

Believe me, it's on my list of criteria for the next place I go, but I'll be here for at least another year, looks like. In the meantime, I'm poring over maps trying to find a few decent trips I can work in.

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from Buckshott00 wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

I am one of those unfortunates whose circumstance doesn't allow me to have a dog.
I can't have them because the property I live in doesn't allow pets of any kind.
This is extremely hard as I have trained Labs and Brittany's for Waterfowl and Upland bird hunting.
If it wasn't for the lease agreement I would have a dog!

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from Josh Giannino wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

tlbroke3- i agree GSPs are fantastic dogs, but not the perfect dog, they are bull headed, and stubborn. a lab is alot more coopertaive and capable of more then just pheasant hunting.

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from RJ Arena wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

I have a bird dog again, and yes, she is a lot of responsibility, a lot of time,(that I could be at the range), but I know it will be worth it. I have had times in my life when I did not have any dog much less a bird dog, and I prefer those times with one, life is so much happier with one than without.

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from missedit wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

Lets go hunting!!!!!!

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

RJ: Let's see ... time spent on the range ruining my hearing and expending lots of money blowing holes in paper or time spent with my dogs at home or in the field? Hmmmmm. That one's a no brainer!

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

E Blair,

Don't take for granted that a Lab will always be good natured and the perfect family dawg. The only dog bite I have ever suffered was by a friend's Lab, twice in the same day. Dog was so bad that no one would hunt with him. My black dawg has the disposition of a Rottweiler, but he is a hunting machine. My other pup is a sweetie. You need to really assess the sire and dam's disposition before selecting a pup. I made that mistake ... once.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

Very good point, WAM. Labs are famous for their sweet disposition but it's never a given. I had one once that didn't like little kids. She was okay with them, just stayed away. Would go to the opposite end of the house. The chocolate lab we had before Pearl was very protective of the house and especially the car. But she was fine with people she'd meet out walking in the park. Very friendly then. Guy across the street got drunk one night and walked into our house uannounced at 3:00 a.m. She actually took a piece out of him. I would have prefered a dog that was less agressive in any circumstance. 911 is my preferred method of conflict resolution. I have to say, there was no indication whatsoever that Sophie's mother was anything but a sweet dog. You just never know.

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from MvilleBrittGuy wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

Sorry I'll read your article later. The real question is why WOULDN'T you have a bird dog or more specifically a dog of the sporting group? They may be busy but are calm yet happy to meet other people and dogs for the most part. Well generally happy and willing to please.

What more could you want?

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from MvilleBrittGuy wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

Other than the Beagle I got by compromise due to size allowance by home owners association rules the only dogs I've owned. 2 Golden's and two Britt's.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

Wow, the homeowners association allowed beagles but not labs? Little dogs are the ones that are invariably noisy nippy neighborhood nuisances. Pretty dumb move if you ask me. I would go right out of my mind if I had to live in a community full of pomeranians, teacup poodles, and shizsuis. About go nuts just thinking about it. Uggh!

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

OHH,

Well put. Around here, those lap & yap breeds you mentioned are coyote and cougar bait. We have had 2 small dogs disappear close by us this year. I never let my small pup out of sight outdoors. The big dawg I don't worry about.

My big dawg loves kids, the smaller the better, espacially the girls it seems. If they scratch him behind the ears, he will drool and eventually fall over into seventh heaven or wherever Labs go in ecstacy! Too soon to see how the little yellow pup will turn out.

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from JHabrial wrote 1 year 23 weeks ago

Right now I'm just being patient. I'm graduating from college in a few months, and once I get settled into a place and a job its right near the top of the list. My wife and I are excited to get a dog and we're planning on a GSP I've never hunted over dogs, but have really wanted to. I know that I just have to wait until I can really give the dog the time it needs (and also be in a place where I won't have to write papers on the weekends I want to be hunting).

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