Being a gundog owner is often fun and fulfilling. Having your four-legged buddy with you during the fall gives hunters a sense of satisfaction and pride. However, your dog is also a pet the remainder of the year and takes a great deal of responsibility. Things like visits to the vet, overall maintenance with dogs, food expenses and many other details go into being a dog owner. These factors can be both rewarding or pains in the rear end at times. This especially holds true to someone owning more than one dog.
The satisfaction of owning two dogs can be very rewarding, especially during the fall. Think about taking two dogs rather than one on a weekend pheasant hunt. Not only can you cover twice the ground, but when you do shoot a bird, you know that even if you cripple it, the odds of finding it are doubled! Plus, you can rest one if you need to, and can rotate dogs, always having a fresh dog in front of you.
As any dog owner knows, good hunting dogs get injured. Having a back up plan is always nice and often can save a hunting trip if one dog needs a trip to the vet. Plus, your buddies will enjoy hunting with you more. Not because of you, but because they know that you have a couple dogs, which can help them be successful. If one of your buddies wants to hunt one of your dogs, make sure they understand the commands and corrections associated with each dog. I would only recommend allowing good friends or family when loaning out one of your dogs.
There can be a down side to owning more than one dog, too, not only during the fall, but throughout the entire year. Obviously with two dogs hunting you are twice as likely to get an injury, which may result in a visit to the vet. This can in turn affect your pocketbook. Trips to vets are not cheap nowadays, and can add up quickly. During the off season, not only are your vet bills more, but also the expense of dog food is doubled. This also means twice as much mess in your back yard to clean up. However, I look at it like this — as long as I am driving to the vet or picking up my back yard, the extra headache is well worth it when fall arrives.
Another concern about having two dogs would be the proper introduction of a new puppy. Too many times I have seen a young dog, under the age of 1 year, come to me with no confidence or some sort of insecurity. People think that this pup should be able to “hang with the old dog” and turn out to be the same. This is often not the case. In fact, I feel that you are doing the pup a huge injustice by not keeping the dogs as separate as possible early on, and easing the newcomer into the equation.
Having two or more dogs allows you to cover more of a pheasant field, which can produce more birds.
This theory especially holds true with the beginning part of training, whether it is fun retrieves or control training — always separate the two. That is not saying to ignore the older dog, but do not allow the veteran to always beat the young dog when you are playing. This will simply hurt the pup’s confidence level and may get the young dog to simply give up. Also, having the young dog constantly follow the leader will not let your pup develop their own sense of attitude. Eventually you want the pup to be a leader itself, and not a follower, therefore keep them separate as much as possible.
Owning two or more hunting dogs can have both its ups and downs. I feel the positives far outweigh the negatives. Sure there is a little more costs and maintenance involved in having multiple dogs. However, think about all the fun that comes along with the many options that more than one dog offers. They include more birds, more retrieves, more friends, and a lot more hunting!
Remember one thing, however, never compare the dogs to one another. Each will have his or her own style, temperament, disposition, and ability. This is what makes each one fun!
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Jason Dommeyer has a lifetime of hunting experience and 15 years experience as a dog trainer. He has turned many pets into expert hunting dogs at Cannon River Kennels (http://www.cannonriverkennels.com/) In addition to training hundreds of hunting companions, he has trained dogs for premier pheasant hunting lodges in South Dakota along with duck hunting lodges in Mississippi and Mexico. His experience also includes both hunting and guiding for upland and waterfowl game from Canada to South America. If you have any questions, Jason can be reached at 507-663-6143 or visit (http://www.cannonriverkennels.com/) He provides dog training tips twice a month.