So we have selected the type of hunting dog, the breed of the dog, and the breeder. Typically at this point there will be some down time before you get your hunting dog. Depending on when you made contact with your breeder (or if there is a waiting list), you could be waiting anywhere from a few weeks, up until the next breeding cycle (perhaps a year). Not to worry, there are plenty of things that need to be done prior to your pups arrival.
Establish who in the family is going to be the master. This should be the person who will be the primary hunter in the family. Although it will be expected that the pup will listen to all family members, there should still be someone whose word should be final about the majority of the pup’s upbringing, training, and care. The master should do most of the conditioning in the beginning (bathroom training included), helping to establish a bond between the two. Remember dogs are pack animals, as are hunting dogs, and they look to find the leader whom they will follow. If there is no one to lead them, then they will act however they want. You don’t need to be mean, instead be consistent and firm throughout all aspects. Remember this should be fun.
Determine where your hunting dog will be sleeping and get that space ready. Maybe it is in the garage, office, kitchen, or in a kennel. I decided that my pup would primarily be sleeping in our living room area. I purchased a crate (metal) and have already placed it where he will be sleeping prior to his arrival. Additionally, you should also sort out the day-to-day living conditions. Will your pup have free run of a fenced yard or will he use a kennel run. Using kennels or crates should not be considered mean or cruel to the pup. As long as you are removing your pup for regular exercise and not neglecting him, this confinement does more good than harm (prevention of diseases, fighting, destruction of property etc.).
Chose a veterinarian and book your first appointment. Do some research, go to the facilities and if possible, talk to the doctor. Make sure that they can/will treat your breed (some veterinarian offices specialize or restrict the kinds of animals they will service). More often than not, your breeder will require you to have a veterinarian visit within a week of your pups arrival. Additionally, consider pet insurance. Similar to humans an emergency visit for your pup could be costly. This is preventable with a reputable pet insurance company such as Trupanion (90% coverage). There are others out there, so shop around.
Last but not least, get some gear. The above images show some of the products available from Ruffwear. I recommend taking a look at their full line-up. Your pup will need: collars, leashes, bowl (indoor and outdoor), whistle, training equipment (specific to the kind of hunting you will be doing), and whatever else you decide to spoil him with. Your pup will be too small for choke chains or electronic correction/training collars (we will address these at a later time). Focus on things that fit him snuggly, without falling off. Also, remember to check the fits often, your pup will grow fast during the first 12-18 months.
(Featured image courtesy of idahohuntingdogs.com)
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