A Hunting Dog For The New Year

Are you looking to get a hunting dog for the New Year?

So, you are thinking about getting a puppy?  The first question you might ask yourself is, “Is this a good time of the year to get a puppy?”   In my opinion, the answer is, “Yes.”

The reasons why I believe this is one of the best times of the year to get a puppy is because you will have the next  four months of  winter in Wisconsin to house break your dog and teach him/her some basic obedience. It’s the perfect time to teach some house manners such as, “no counter surfing, no jumping, chewing and sit.”

The winter snow has helped me house break many puppies over the years. One reason is that puppies typically do not want to be out in the snow and cold, just like you and me.  Meaning, when a pup hits the cold snow, he or she wants to do their duty right away and get back to the warmth of home.  They usually do not spend time sniffing around and checking things out like they would in the warmer spring or summer months.

Another positive aspect of getting a new pup now is that after he/she has mastered most of the basics during the cold months of winter, spring is a great time to teach your pup how to swim.   Your introduction to water and on how to swim, will set the foundation for the rest of his/her swimming life.  If that pup has a poor experience the first time you take them swimming, you may have an uphill battle for the rest of their life.  The best case scenario is to have water that he or she can walk in to.  If not, you may have a place with an indoor pool that you can get in with them.   In this case, take your pup for a brief swim holding them up on their backside.   They should feel comfortable and you will want to try and make it a fun, enjoyable experience for them.  If you sense a lot of hesitation, you may want to come back to it at a different time.

Another thought regarding swimming is that you may want to wait until a hot summer day when your dog is panting. Or, sometimes if you partner a pup with an adult dog that already swims and they see that dog get in the water they will want to join in on the fun!  If your dog wants to retrieve, try having him or her retrieve a bumper within a short distance, close to the edge so that they can get to the bumper quickly and come back to shore.

The truly best part about getting a pup this time of year is it allows for a great window for training all summer at that 6 to 10 months age. This is the best time to train your young dog for hunting.  When the fall months hit, you should have a great foundation.  With the right training, the dog should already know many of the necessary commands and have the strength, endurance and ability to hunt well enough for you.

Another aspect to consider in this decision is whether it is better to look for a male or female puppy.  I have been asked this question many times by people looking to get a pup.  Like anything in life, there are pros and cons to both.  Let’s take a look at the cons first.

We will start with a male, the cons of the male is he typically likes to mark his territory a lot; which means lifting his leg and urinating on anything and everything that they think needs a personalized mark of urine on it.   They also typically want to wander around more than the female.   The intact male also may have more of a tendency to have a dominating attitude towards other males.

Now there are also many pros to the male pup.  One of the pros are that there are no heat cycles to worry about.  The three weeks of spotting for a female can make life a little tough around the house.  Also, typically males are bolder, more confident and more aggressive hunters.  Basically saying that they have more drive and ruggedness than their female counterparts do.  I would have to say that the majority of the men that bring in a hunting dog to the Highlands Hunt Club are males. I believe one of the reasons for this is because they look at them as their “hunting buddy” and a friend if you will and maybe that is just a little more natural and masculine bonding with a male than a female. Not sure about that, but most male hunters seem to prefer male hunting buddies.

Now let’s take a look at some cons for the female pup. One obvious one is that there are heat cycles that you will have to deal with. If you know you are not going to have a litter, I would suggest getting her spayed in a timely fashion.   In this case, I would talk to your vet to see what the best age is to get this done.  Another con to getting a female is she is more likely be sensitive or submissive.   This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but could be depending on the amount and style of hunting you do.  However, with that sensitivity and submissiveness, females can be more eager to please you their owner, than their male counterpart.

There are definitely some pros to having a female.  One of them is that females don’t have the same drive to mark their territory. This leads to the fact that they typically are a little easier to house break because they do not leave some in the tank for another marking.  For the most part, they are not aggressive to other dogs or to people, but all dogs are different.  As far as temperament and trainability, females can be an easier option.  Some of the best dogs I trained were female dogs. 

Finding the right pup is sometimes the biggest hunt with in itself.  Knowing what you want before you start shopping will help make the process a memorable one that you and your family deserve.   Here is a list of questions that I would suggest asking your breeders when shopping for a new puppy:

  1. Are there any health risks on the parents?
  2. What are the parent’s temperament like?  Are you able to meet both the parents?
  3. Hips -elbows x-ray on both parents, are they certified “good or excellent” or “poor or fair”
  4. EIC are they clear carrier or affected
  5. Eye certified are they clear on that.
  6. CNM clear
  7. Take a look at the Pedigree, are they AKC registered?
  8. What are the sizes of the parents?

Now that I have given you my opinion of the best time of year to get a new puppy, some pros and cons on whether to get a male or female, and some suggested questions while you are shopping for your new puppy, I hope you enjoy your puppy shopping experience and have a great start to 2017!

Chase Larson