Hunting dogs- Utility or companions ?

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Hunting dogs- Utility or companions ?

Postby Dave » Mon Jul 26, 2004 2:35 pm

Doing rescue, one of my biggest hurdles is socializing discarded hunting Britts :? . I was wondering is the prevelant thinking that these are utility animals to be kept in a kennel and only brought out to train and hunt with ? I remember growing up and getting scolded because we kids were supposedly ruining my Granfather's Chessy by petting him and playing with him. Recently I was contacted from two different owners about getting their dog's into rescue cause they were't hunting well and they needed rid of them . Fairly young dogs 4 and 6 . I don't mean to start a firestorm about this , but would appreciate some other views . I'm a Bowhunter by chosen sport and occaisionaly bird hunt my Britts and they are great hunters and the best companions a person could have . To become great Hunters do they need isolation in a kennel ? Thanks I'll get off my soapbox and pet my bed hog bird dog laying behind me . :D DAVE
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Postby Karen_P » Mon Jul 26, 2004 3:47 pm

Dave, I think that this is a very old-school train of thought on hunting dogs. I know several people who hunt over their britts (and rave about how wonderful they are in the field) and they are absolutely pampered pets. I think you can absolutely have a Brittany who is first and foremost a companion animal and secondly, a fantastic hunter. In fact, I know a breeder/hunter who owns around 20 Brittanys. They get house privileges 6-8 at a time, and he sleeps with several of them, yet he hunts with each and every one of them that is physically capable of doing so. Several of them have hunt titles also.

Now, I've seen my fair share of poorly socialized, kennel raised huntin dawgs, and it breaks my heart each and every time. These poor guys don't have a clue what it means to be a loved companion, and can be quite a challenge to rehabilitate, but it's absolutely not impossible.
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Postby CJ » Mon Jul 26, 2004 4:16 pm

I think I have to lean towards what Karen said about being anold school of thought that is really hard to break (like old superstitions sometimes). I really believe people do that for one of two reasons. One... just plain ignorance, or two.. their just cold hearted people that couldn't care less (maybe a combo of both sometimes).
Further, I think that a lot of people get rid of a hunting dog that "doesn't hunt well" out of ignorance as well. Seems to me that most if not all problems with hunting dogs is because they either are trained incorrectly to begin with, or the owner has the (common) missconception that once a dog is trained once, thats it... just put him in the kennel when the season is over and bring him out to hunt 8-9 months later and he should pick up where he left off... perfectly... nothing could be further from reality, but a lot of people don't understand that because they either won't or can't avail themselves to training info.
There are some phenom's that hunt perfectly out of the chute with no training at all and never skip a beat their whole lives, but these are few and far between (in ANY breed). And although these partners are rare indeed, it doesn't seem to keep people from expecting it from every dog they get. I don't know the full history on my youngest, but I assume he was a hunting washout because he came from the corn belt originally, and he's a great hunting dog... just needed some work (the right kind of work for him).
Agh.... anyway... bottom line is I think this happens mainly from ignorance and lack of commitment of time on the hunter/owners part. It sickens me, but... then.... a lot of things make me like that. That's my LTHO... If hunters would work with their dogs more, and avail themselves to the training resources that are widely available, a lot of hunting dogs wouldn't be discarded.... that's my take.
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Postby Dave » Mon Jul 26, 2004 7:08 pm

Thanks guys and gals . I know it isn't really that common to train that way anymore . I just get frustrated people would train and keep these highly social dogs the way they do . The good ole boys make me crazy and I'm embarassed to acknowledge we have any in Mt. The dog that got me started in rescue back in 1992 came from an ad, free" Brittany" to a good home .She is why I do rescue . This dog was kenneled and only taken out to be trained and worked .She quit hunting for the trainer who got heavy handed with her .Anyway I loved that dog . She housebroke immediately and gave me 10 1/2 good years , she passed at 17 1/2 :cry: Dave
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Postby JimC » Mon Jul 26, 2004 9:23 pm

I'm new to Britts, having had Ryker for only nine months, and new to training a bird dog. But I did plenty of homework about Britts in general before we adopted him and have done a lot of research into Britts and gundogs when he starting pointing every bird in sight when they returned this spring.

I found that some breeders, especially Maverick line breeders, really stress that their dogs have been socialized in their homes before they're sold. The go out of their way to emphasize the dual companion/hunter roles of their dogs. I didn't see this dual role emphasis by breeders or trainers of other breeds.

I think that some people view their animals as tools. A hunter might view his dog as a tool to assist his/her in hunting. A dairy farmer might view a cow as a milk producer. When that animal fails to do the job, in the eye of the owner, they get rid of them. These people should not own Britts!

A dog may be a poor hunter because the owner or trainer did a poor job of training him, but he/she still blames the dog. Some trainers have a method of training they use to train every dog, and they stick to that method of training regardless of the individual dog. Some owners read a book and view a couple of videos and declare themselves trainers. If their dog doesn't respond the way the dog in the video does he must be a dumb dog or not trainable or not a hunter and they dump them.

Like CJ's youngest, Ryker's from the "cornbelt". Iowa actually. He's had some hunt training in his past. But he's also been the victim of e-collar misuse. Someone didn't have the patience he needs. I'm working one on one with Ryker's gundog trainer. All of our sessions are the three of us. We do all the things you read about in the training books. But what this trainer brings is analysis of Ryker's behavior and constantly adjusts his training method to Ryker's learning style and pace. Some days it's two steps forward and one step back. But we don't have a deadline. If Ryker is ready to hunt this fall, he'll be ready. If not, there's always next year.

IMO one of the great things about ABR is the whole adoption screening process. This limits, but does not eliminate, the bad matches of dog and owner. I have come across some breeders who use a similar screening process before they will sell someone one of their dogs.
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Postby Beth Bair » Tue Jul 27, 2004 7:42 am

I too believe its the good ole boy school of thought. They don't spay/neuter them either. When I fostered my first Britt, he was a hunter but also a house dog. So, when his hunting skills were posted on the ABR site, your wouldn't imagine the interest in him. (interest from people I wouldn't give a rat to) I immediately took the info about his hunting abilities off. He went to a family were the dad does hunt, but it's for recreation, so my boy got the best of both inside bed dog and gets to enjoy a good hunt.

Funny you bring this up, I picked up a hunting dog on the side of the road last night. We live near a place where everyone hunts and their dogs get lost for days at a time. Well, this one hasn't been on it's on for long because he's not covered in ticks like he would be if out there for long. But, his nails are soooo long. I didn't cut them because wasn't sure if that we make his owners mad, but I think not only am I going to cut them I might even paint them. LOL
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Field Dogs

Postby FredinMN » Tue Jul 27, 2004 9:41 am

We adopted Maggie at 5 years old two years ago and she housetrained very quickly and is enjoying retirement. Very good companion.
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Postby Karen_P » Tue Jul 27, 2004 5:19 pm

We got lucky too. Zach was a Kansas hunting flunky...probably had a seizure in the field and was deemed "unhuntable and therefore, useless". In October it will be 2 yrs we've had him, so he's around 6 yrs old now. Thank goodness, he was well socialized and housebroken when he arrived (other than marking all over the house!), and has turned out to be the most lovable dog in the world.
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