Hunting Dogs


By Kathleen Kalina



“It’s better to spend $1000 on good genetics than $1000 on training” Said a trainer at a hunting dog seminar.

Running to retrieve a duck



On a hot scent for pheasants

He also said another bone of wisdom “The only difference between a 70lb hunting dog and a 40lb is the amount of food needed.”

Looking for a good fit in a hunting dog takes a lot of research, but I quickly found the best qualities in an English Springer.

At 8 months, in the woods watching me and staying close

These qualities were loyalty, stays close, perfect hunter, affectionate, loves the sound of gunfire and is fearless to all terrain. Hunting close to me, now
that I’m moving slower in my old age, is an important quality. I don’t want to have a dog flush pheasants 100 yards out, beyond the reach of the shotshell. I want that dog flushing right ahead of me so the bird flies to where I can hit him.

Happy hunting dog


watching flushed pheasant

Good genetics is a key factor. My dog had field champions for both parents. 

watching for ducks

The day I brought her home at 6wks old, I bought a furry ball with a tail and tied a string to the tail. I tossed it about 10ft. She ran for the ball and I pulled the string slowly back with
her mouth on the ball. Doing this only three times before she got the idea that
retrieving the ball to me was what she needed to do.

Daisy at 7 weeks old

The first time I took her ruffed grouse hunting at 1yr old. She chased the grouse barking up at the trees it flew from tree to tree. It was my job to keep up with the bird and shoot it.
But there was problem knowing where it was.

Daisy with Ruffed Grouse


Retrieving spruce grouse in Canada at 6yrs old

She was out at the pheasant club at age 10 weeks, following the big dogs while they flushed. The smells overwhelmed her, but her attention span was very good. I knew then that she
would be a premiere pheasant hunter. The genetics were there and working good.

Daisy at 10 weeks old out at pheasant hunting club to get her nose in shape

I took a good scolding from another pheasant hunting friend because I did not crate the dog. He was convinced that I would ruin the dog. She has never taken to a crate and wants to sit next to me in the truck. To discourage this affection would be detrimental to the mental health of my dog. Some dogs are not as sensitive as the springer, so maybe they are better at crates. 

competition retrieval at 1 years old (Gamefair MN)

I read several books about springers and they all emphasized the need to
please was very strong and that they could become depressed easily if the owner
yelled at them at all. You might think this is ridiculous but it’s true. I have
observed that when I’ve panicked and yelled, she becomes immediatly despondent. In order to bring her out of it, I’ve had to say “come here little
sweetheart.” She responds only to sweet talk. With that type of talk she
performs and responds best.

Immediately after getting a puppy, I took her to puppy school. This is a two fold experience, it’s good
socialization and learning the training words.

Running at puppy school faster than speed of camera

Once a year, I sign her up for any type of training just to keep her mind in gear. 
So shes had puppy school, beginning, intermediate, advanced obedience,
good canine citizen class and license, agility and flyball.

Agility school

Repeating a class is just as good. The dog feels like they are
special. Training for water retrieval should be done for a few minutes every
other day. Too much hunting training can bore a dog and it no longer becomes fun. She really enjoys it. Playing ball by shooting them from a slingshot is her favorite game.

Everyone thinks that their dog is the best hunting dog and of course we know all good dogs go to heaven.