BRIAN JOHNSON — Six qualities of a good duck dog

Published 12:04 am Tuesday, February 11, 2020

What training does your dog really need?

For some, applying a book like “Water Dog” might seem like the right idea. From basic commands to 200-yard blind retrieves, there’s a lot to learn. However, taking things step-by-step and tuning into the more vital commands will have the greatest long-term benefits. Depending on your expectations, a duck dog can be entirely dependable as long as it’s skilled in the following areas.

  1. Retrieve marked birds — This trait comes from the blood. If your dog just isn’t interested in retrieving a bird he/she saw hit the water, it might be time to reconsider your training.
  2. Hunts dead — Hunting dead is the command given when a retriever did NOT see the bird fall, but can be directed to a general area to sniff it out. Keep in mind: this retrieve is very different from a blind retrieve.
    3. Delivers to hand — A dog that delivers to hand guarantees an extra bird in the bag. While most hunters don’t mind a dog that drops in the boat, the risk of an escaping cripple should be avoided.
    4. Ignores decoys — We’ve all seen that one dog that just can’t seem to tell the difference between a duck and a decoy. With the proper introduction and a few test runs, this frustration can be eliminated before the hunt.
    5. Steady to shot — Dogs that break cause birds to flare and can totally blow your cover. A good duck dog will wait for the command to retrieve after all firearms have unloaded.
    6. Blind etiquette — Hunters aren’t the only ones who should have an understanding of blind etiquette. A well-trained duck dog should know his designated spot in the blind and stay there until given the next command. If things are slow, insure that your dog can sit quietly until the hunt is complete.

Brian Johnson, originally of Port Neches, is pastor of First Baptist Church of Winnie, owner of and outdoors writer for The News.

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