This past season I took Nali out for a hunt with Trice, my friend Bryce’s German Shorthaired Pointer. Trice is a quality bird dog, and Nali had been hunting well for me all season. Unfortunately, the outing was a bit of a disaster. Several birds were flushed out of range and the dogs got into two separate fights. We all know running dogs in tandem can have great results. Max hunts with multiple dogs in New Zealand on a regular basis. This blog examines a few of the mistakes we should have avoided and a few strategies Max uses for success.
Worst of Both Worlds
Nali does a good job of staying within range, and Trice has a solid point. On the other hand, Trice doesn’t stay anywhere near us, and Nali almost never points. When we went hunting Nali started ranging farther, and Trice busted birds she normally would have pointed. Essentially, we had the worst of both worlds. I will hunt Nali with my brother’s lab Waylon next year, which will allow us to have the same expectations for each dog. If you’re going to work two dogs together I’d suggest running the same breed or at least category of dog.
The dogs didn’t have a chance to get acquainted before the hunt. Instead, they met while going after the same retrieve, and it ended badly. Michael Vick would have loved it though (No dogs were seriously injured). Let the dogs get to know one another before the hunt and possibly sort out any dominance issues. Be on your toes when a bird is shot. A laid-back dog will get protective in a hurry. This could come down to the prey-drive in dogs. A falling bird likely kicks off the instinct to chase, which will ramp up adrenaline and increase the likelihood of a fight breaking out. Let one dog retrieve the bird and call the other off. Make sure the dogs are comfortable with one another before the hunt.
As with everything in training, introduce new ground incrementally, one small step at a time. Two dogs and two guys to start with is a good idea. Maybe someone that has been through the process before and understands what to expect. Holiday weekends such as Thanksgiving are tough because nobody has seen each other in a long time, and you don’t want to tell people keep quiet. The added distractions won’t help the situation. Try running one dog alone for a while then the other, once both dogs have burned off a bit of energy, let them hunt together.
Whistle commands can confuse dogs especially if your buddy has a dog that has a beeping collar. My dog repeatedly tried to sit when the other dog’s beeper collar went off. If each pup knows different whistle commands, you may have one coming back and the other sitting down on each blast.
In the end, it might be best to run them individually. Do what’s best for the dogs. Thank you for reading, Stu