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      TO THOSE REGISTERING FOR MEMBERSHIP ON UJ   01/06/2018

      To the Guests who have decided to register for Membership. PLEASE read Terms of Service, not just checking it off. This is covered there: Add more info than just "hunting" or "Upland hunting" or "birds" or "outdoors" or similar nebulous terms in the required INTERESTS field. Despite this Boards strong spam filtering function, some Spam registrations do sneak through. I need an inkling that you are a human being not a Spam Bot tagging onto key words. Also please do not use a business name as your User Name. Thank you.
Bobonli

Adding a Dog to a Working Family

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Bobonli

Hello. I'm a new member looking for advice regarding adding a bird dog to a family where the grown ups work full time.

 

By way of introductions, my name is Bob and I live about 30 minutes outside NY City. This is my first season hunting, having come from sporting clays. I did not grow up in a hunting family, so the entire experience is new, fascinating and exciting to me. I much prefer hunting (and watching the dogs work) to sporting clays. My experiences this season have been limited to a couple of preserve hunts where I worked with a guide and his three Brits, and a couple of failed attempts at dog-less hunting. I grew up with dogs for the first 20 years of my life: poodles a schnauzer that were predominantly house animals (meaning they never went to the park or on vacation with us) and there was always someone around during the day for a walk.

 

Fast forward about 30 years and I have a family that is expressing interest in a dog converging with my interest in having a dog for hunting, hiking etc. I want my family to have that dog that goes to the park, comes on vacation and goes with me to hunt. Here's my hang up, if you will: my wife and I both work full time. Out the door around 9am and back around 6p. Kids are in school all day. We have access to dog walkers, doggy day care etc......most of the families in my neighborhood have both adults working all day so these are services we can utilize. 

 

My question--and one I can't answer by asking my neighbor who has dogs-- is: Is the decision making process about whether to bring the dog into the family any different because the dog we are considering will be a bird dog? In terms of routine daily care, is there anything that would make you say "yes" or "no" about bringing home a dog in this situation?

 

FWIW, we are "loosely" looking at Brits and cockers because of their size and disposition. 

 

Perhaps I'm overthinking it, but I want to make an informed decision. Thank you in advance.

Bob

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DonT

How would you train this dog to hunt, time wise and experience?  Pointers would require more training then a flusher.  You may be looking for a house/companion dog that can hunt some. My hunting dog dog is laid back in the house but requires at least a 1 to 2 hour run in the woods off leash every other day.  Just a few thing to think about. 

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snapt

We don't live in the big city but do have to utilize doggy day care etc fairly frequently. I'm in school 3 days a week and certain days Mrs Snapt is out of the house from 7am-6pm.

 

Realize if you get a pup some places may not take them until of a certain age. On the upside you'll have a very well socialized dog if it goes to the right place. We're lucky to have a guy who runs an in home doggy day care with a pretty good sized yard locally for $20 a day. He's a bird hunter and gets bird dogs. When we pull up the pooch can't get out of the car fast enough and when we pick up she usually exhausted for the next 24 hours, well worth it. If we're gone for less than 8 hours, say 6, we'll have the neighbor take the dog for a walk and she'll be fine. I would caution against doing this with a pup that might get bored easily.

 

Check out various day cares, we had two bad experiences before finding the right fit. When you find a vet you trust they'll likely have good recommendations as well. I would put a premium on one that lets the dogs interact, yes there might be scruffs from time to time but for the most part it helps socialization and wears them out.

 

Also everyone loves a puppy in the workplace if possible! Before leaving the white collar world I had a crate under my desk, everybody always commented how good morale was with a dog around.

 

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Curt

There's a world of difference between having a working birddog and having some fluffy house dog.  I can primarily speak to the needs of brittanies because I've owned them for over forty years.  They require a significant amount of free running exercise per day if you expect them to behave in any type of civilized manner in your home.  Leashed dog walks and back yard play sessions won't cut it, they need to run loose.  During my working years my dogs went to work with me nearly everyday, slept on the couch in my office, and ran most days at lunch time in the woods behind my office.

Training is another aspect that requires a fair amount of time and or money if you want the dog to perform in the field.  Birddogs, particularly pointing breeds have a lot to learn to develop into a dog you'll enjoy hunting with.  If this is your first birddog you'll want to get some help with the training.

 

Not trying to throw a monkey wrench into your plans, just trying to point out a couple of the issues you'll face when owning a birddog. 

 

 

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OceanRoamer

You gotta start somewhere.

 

If, like you say, you have access to and plan to use daycare and dog walkers then it would probably work. Since you have limited prior experience hunting and training dogs, I’d recommend avoiding a pup and going with either a started or fully trained dog. Plan on spending more time at the hunting preserve you mentioned.

 

More importantly, where and when do you plan to hunt? Is it preserve hunting only? Hopefully more than a couple of times per year. Or is an annual trip to the West or Midwest in the cards?

 

You’re on target with Brittany or Cocker...I’m partial to French Britts myself. Great house dogs/companions & hunters.

 

Be prepared for wife and kids being more enamored with “idea of a dog” than with the actuality of it. Too many times have I seen the tragedy of a neglected dog after the novelty has worn off.

 

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Bobonli

Thank you for the feedback so far. I'm aware that my question brings up many other questions such as how often will I hunt, do I have time to train etc. And, of course, what OceanRoamer notes about everyone wanting a dog but not wanting to care for it! There's a lot to wade through and that's why I wanted to start with the basic: does this type of dog require something above & beyond a "regular dog" in terms of day to day care. I remember the regular day to day stuff from my youth, and understand the value of obedience training to have a well mannered animal. 

 

I think it's the "free run time" that is my concern, recognizing that a pup won't be free running in the woods without the requisite obedience training....but I live close to fields and parks where this can be done after work. 

 

To DonT and Curt's points: my expectations are that it will be a family dog that goes with the family on our hikes and adventures AND can hunt. I'm a solid two hour (one way) drive from anywhere to hunt, so it would be foolish of me to think that the dog will become an all-star when in all likelihood we will not hunt every weekend. 

 

...and if this all sounds like an incredibly crappy idea and I should just drop the idea of having a dog that can hunt, please speak up. That's why I asked the question. Unfortunately I do not have a network of buddies with dogs, and I'd rather not hire dogs when I want to hunt, so I'm trying to figure out a solution to the family-wants-a-dog, Bob likes to hunt issue.

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Greg Hartman
3 hours ago, Curt said:

There's a world of difference between having a working birddog and having some fluffy house dog.  I can primarily speak to the needs of brittanies because I've owned them for over forty years.  They require a significant amount of free running exercise per day if you expect them to behave in any type of civilized manner in your home.  Leashed dog walks and back yard play sessions won't cut it, they need to run loose.  During my working years my dogs went to work with me nearly everyday, slept on the couch in my office, and ran most days at lunch time in the woods behind my office.

Training is another aspect that requires a fair amount of time and or money if you want the dog to perform in the field.  Birddogs, particularly pointing breeds have a lot to learn to develop into a dog you'll enjoy hunting with.  If this is your first birddog you'll want to get some help with the training.

 

Not trying to throw a monkey wrench into your plans, just trying to point out a couple of the issues you'll face when owning a birddog. 

 

 

 

This....

 

I'm a Brittany guy, too.  A Brittany is NOT a laid back house dog - this is probably true of most of the pointing breeds.  They certainly are as intelligent, loving, gentle, devoted and attentive as any dog on the face of the earth.  Mine are literally my family.  The ideal family dog.  BUT, they need tons of off-lead exercise every day to stay mentally and physically healthy.  A walk around the block on a lead (or twenty-five walks around the block on lead, for that matter) is nothing for a Brit - doesn't even scratch the surface.  Like Curt, mine are with me 24/7.  I live way out in the sticks and can simply open the front door and run them for miles, which I do every single day they are not actively hunted, which they are 4 or so days/week 7 months out of the year.  As Curt says, your pup will need training and lots and lots of bird contacts if he/she is to develop into a good birddog - mine probably kill hundreds of birds each year.

 

One of my older daughter's best friends (a working couple with two school-age kids) got a Brittany a few years ago as house pet and as a birddog for the husband.  His name is RJ and he is as cute as a trick, nice and gentle.  But both work and have typically busy young persons' lives.  RJ features prominently on Facebook "shame" pages, apparently, because almost daily my daughter sends me "funny" pics from Facebook of what RJ destroyed that day.  They love RJ, as he is a great pet, but he is incredibly destructive because the young couple simply cannot give him the daily exercise he needs.

 

I don't want to rain on your parade.  You probably can do this, but be well aware going in that it will require a VERY dedicated effort.  I have an investment banker friend who lives in a Manhattan high-rise.  He has three much beloved setters.  He and his wife have no kids and this is what they do.  They have a place in the Catskills where they go every weekend so the dogs can run.  They take several extended western hunting trips each year.  It works for them.

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BirdBrain

Gun dogs have a lot of energy and need to be able to burn it off.  Even on days when I'm not able to get him off-leash time, he gets shorter periods of yard time and at least 5 or 6 miles, more often closer to 10, on leash.  How willing or able are you to change your routine?  Are you and/or your wife able to spend an hour or so before AND after work exercising and training?  Can the kids help out when they get home from school?   Be prepared for a lot of your life to revolve around the dog and it's needs, like parenthood.

 

 

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Bobonli

Thank you, Greg, for generously sharing your experience. Wonderful photos, by the way!

As much as I'd like to take the dog with me to work, that's out of the question. 

 

Would I be better looking at some other breed (my kids are fond of a cocker in the neighborhood), or is this need for hours of exercise universal among the bird dog breeds?

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Bobonli
12 minutes ago, BirdBrain said:

How willing or able are you to change your routine?  Are you and/or your wife able to spend an hour or so before AND after work exercising and training?  Can the kids help out when they get home from school?   Be prepared for a lot of your life to revolve around the dog and it's needs, like parenthood.

 

 

Yes, that's already an expectation of ours, that the dog will need attention before and after work as well as formal work on manners and then field work with a trainer. 

And yes, kids will help out. If I move forward with this my plan is to "rehearse" for the dog: practice getting up earlier to walk and feed, set aside time in the evening to walk etc. I want to see that the family is committed before adding another life to the party. I live quarter mile from a famous NY animal shelter packed with animals whose families didn't understand the responsibilities of ownership.....I'm not going to fail, and that's why I'm investing the time now to see if it's do-able and how.

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bryson72

Just like a new born child the family will have to understand that a lot of the attention will have to be directed towards the new pup. I can understand what you picture in a dog for your family but it's going to take planning/training and   Commitment. The commitient part is where most people fail. I walk by britts on leash so it can be done, but don't expect much from around the block walks. I usually wak mine 3 to 4 miles x 5 a week. Helps keep me stay active also. That means early am walks before work or after dinner. The training can be done by a trainer periodically during the first couple years or depending on how committed your are ( there's that word again) you can accomplish after work and on weekends combined. Your dog might not be winning derby trails at one year old but you can still tote a gun around him while waiting for him to blossom into a pointing dog. Your obiedience can be done while walking! I will agree he needs run time but not every day! Guess what I'm trying say is it can be done if you hold your end of the bargain up!

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sprocket

Consider hosting a dog for a while to shake things out - foster dogs or seeing eye, therapy dogs, etc all need socialization as part of training.  If you can foster successfully then you know you can get your own dog.  And if not - then you know as well...

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Greg Hartman
2 hours ago, Bobonli said:

Thank you, Greg, for generously sharing your experience. Wonderful photos, by the way!

As much as I'd like to take the dog with me to work, that's out of the question. 

 

Would I be better looking at some other breed (my kids are fond of a cocker in the neighborhood), or is this need for hours of exercise universal among the bird dog breeds?

 

I can't speak from personal experience, because I have had only Brittanys.  But, you asked; and like any long-time bird hunter, I have been around other breeds a  bit over the years.  I'd guess that you would find that all of the more common pointing breeds (Setters, GWP's, English Pointers, GSP's, etc) and all of the less common pointing breeds (Munsterlanders, Vizlas, Weinariners, etc) are high energy dogs.  A possible exception might (?) be a Spinone Italiano, but (FWIW) the Spinones I've seen work in the field weren't all that impressive.

 

Many flushing breeds, like Cockers and Springers are much like Brittanys in that they make loving and devoted pets, but are equally high energy critters.  To get a truly top-notch flushing dog or pointing dog requires a massive expenditure of time, but I'd guess (again, never having had one) that a man could get a decent, workable bird dog with considerably less training and bird contact if you are dealing with a flushing breed instead of a pointing breed.

 

Some of the retrieving breeds, like Labs and Goldens can also make very effective upland flushing dogs and can be quite laid back once they are past puppyhood - not requiring the level of exercise and attention the others mentioned above do.  Of course, to make good field dogs, they will require plenty training and bird contact; and to be fit enough to hunt hard, they will need to be run like any other bird dog.  There are even pointing Labs, but that has always struck me kinda odd.  Chesapeake Bay Retrievers (Chessies) are also great dogs who can make decent upland dogs as well as retrieving dogs, but they are probably not something a newbie should tackle.

 

Oh - Should you decide to go the Lab or Golden route, be aware that most Labs and Goldens you encounter are NOT field-bred and would NOT make any kind of decent bird dogs.  You would need to look for a field-bred line of dogs.  There are lots of folks here who could help you with that.  The same is true with Cockers.  This field/pet dichotomy is not usually found in the pointing breeds, because few people buy them as just pets due to the time commitment discussed here. Labs, Goldens and Cocker are often bought as just pets - nothing wrong with that - just a completely different kind of dog.

 

Please take all of this with a big grain of salt and listen to others who have personal experience with other breeds and/or are experts on this, which I am not. 

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BlacknTan

You have gotten good advice, ,Bob.. the gundog breeds are extremely high energy. Nothing wrong with that if you can commit to the time needed to diffuse that energy in a positive manner. If not ... look out, things can get sideways in a hurry.

I hope this does not dissuade you, but, forewarned is forearmed!

 

BTW, I wish I had a nickle for every breeder who advertises a bombshell in the field and a lap dog in the home... This only happens after the day in the field!

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Grifish

Echoing what you have already heard dogs need exercise and birddogs need more.  If you have ever watched Cesar Milan and his dog wisperer show the first fix he does on almost every episode is teach the dog’s people that a tired dog is a happy dog and a dog ready to learn.

 

My wife and I own field bred English cockers ours have a wonderful off switch, not all do. We also live in the suburbs, we run them at least 3x week.  If they don’t get enough exercise, they start being obnoxious and begin not to listen. I would say if you cannot dedicate at least 3hrs 3x a week don’t get a fbec. The other side of the coin is that you can do a lot of training in the back yard that will do wonders in the field.  Check out the book Urban Gundog.

 

We train with folks who work bench bred cockers, live in Brooklyn and a few of those dogs are fun to shoot over, but they aren’t fbecs. Benchies usually have a pretty good off switch, in fact their on switch can sometimes be hard to find.  You would really have a lot of research to find a good hunting bench bred Spaniel. Text me if you would like a lead or two.

 

A couple folks on this board own American Cockers, hopefully they will chime in as well.

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