Wednesday, March 31, 2010

How To Control Your Hunting Dog’s Barking

If your hunting dog has developed a barking habit, getting it to stop is not going to be easy. However, you can speed up the process if you know some fundamental strategies to controlling dog barking. When a dog has been allowed to learn some of the negative habits that contribute to dog barking, getting it to stop is going to require reconditioning it. It should be noted that it is nearly impossible to get a hunting dog to stop barking completely, and this is not even necessary. With the proper training, a hunting dog will be able to stop barking on your command.
Yelling Does Not Work Because Dogs Love It!
One mistake that many owners make is to yell “Quiet!” at the dog when it is barking. This often results in the dog barking even more! This is because hunting dogs bark to communicate a number of different things, and when you scream at the top of your lungs at them, they think you’re just joining the chorus. Dogs simply cannot understand what human words mean, however there are several methods that are far more effective at stopping dog barking.
Consider the reasons why your dog is barking. Understanding the root cause of barking will help you stop the behavior. There are a variety of reasons why dogs bark. They are usually attempting to communicate a particular emotion or response. Here are the most common reasons why dogs bark:
  • Warning – the dog perceives some type of danger or threat. This is often accompanied by growling.
  • Excitement – dogs will often bark with enthusiasm when they are excited by some one or something.
  • Anxiety – dogs that have separation anxiety have a high pitched bark that is like a whine.
  • Boredom – the dog has pent up energy from not being exercised or is bored from a lack of contact with people or other dogs.
  • Attention Seeking – dogs will bark to get attention, this can be a more high pitched bark or a whining as well.
  • Communication – dogs in the neighborhood bark to each other to communicate and this is a common reason why dogs bark while outside.
Try to pinpoint the reasons why the dog is barking so much. Keep it out of the circumstances that are causing barking. Controlling a dog’s environment is almost as important as controlling the dog itself.
Positive Reinforcement Is Proven To Be Effective
Positive reinforcement, or rewarding good behavior, has been shown to be much more effective than shock collars. Shock collars instill can instill fear and anxiety in a dog, especially when they deliver a strong and painful shock. Rewarding a dog with food or a treat immediately after it stops barking on the calm but stern command “Quiet” is one common form of positive reinforcement. The dog will learn to associate the word “Quiet” with not barking if this is done repeatedly. Also, be sure to say the word “Good!” immediately after it stops barking in a higher pitched and friendly tone.
Other Types of Barking Control Methods
Citronella collars are a more humane type of dog behavior control collar that spray a harmless scent that dogs do not like. Although this is a form of negative reinforcement, the benefit is that it is not painful for the dog.
Never pet or reward a dog for barking. This is a sure way to eliminate all the work you put towards controlling its barking. If anything, take a toy or your own attention away from the dog when it barks. Barking in the vast majority of cases is an undesirable behavior, and it must be consistently reinforced this way.
Exercise has been shown to reduce barking behavior. In many cases dogs bark simply because they have so much pent up energy. A long walk every day might be more effective than anything else at reducing barking.
Avoid leaving your dog alone for long periods of time, as this creates separation anxiety and can cause your dog to start learning barking behaviors. Often dogs will bark while their owners are away out of anxiety and attention seeking.
Similarly do not leave your dog outside for a long period of time, as dogs outside will start to bark simply because they hear other dogs barking or because they want to come indoors.

Learn More About Training Your Dog Not To Bark
Tuesday, March 23, 2010

How Do You Pick a Bird Dog?

If you are ready to make your hunts more successful, you might consider purchasing your own gun dog puppy. There are various breeds and price points, but here you will find some simple suggestions for selecting a puppy that will serve as a hunting partner and lifelong friend.

First, you will need to ask yourself many questions. Will this be a pet that hunts with you 5 days a year or will it be a serious hunting dog that goes hunting 60 days a year? What kind of hunting do you do and where? What kind of personality do you have? What size dog do you want? All of these questions (and more) will guide your conversation with the breeder.

Next, determine the breed you want. For basic information on breeds, visit the link to Gun Dog Breeds on the  or look at the sporting dog descriptions on the AKC web site:  From there, search for breeders in your area that specialize in the breeds that sound most interesting to you. They can answer any questions you have and may lead you in the right direction. A great way to view dogs of different breeds is to attend a dog competition. This can allow you to see what a breed is meant to do and what their titles mean.

Field trials and Hunt Tests are located across the country and can be valuable in your dog search. The events are listed by state, then by the host club for various breeds. Often the clubs that host the events have web sites where club members can list their litters. This can also be a great resource for locating your puppy. Ultimately, getting to know dog owners and breeders is the best way of selecting your own dog.

Third, locate a good litter. It is important to start with a set of four basic standards: 1) Health Clearances of hips, eyes, and elbows on both parents 2) 26 month health contact 3) AKC registration papers 4) Dew claws removed. These are minimum standards for most breeds, but some breeds may require additional health clearance, such as heart and thyroid. The next consideration is the pedigree. If you want your puppy to turn into a working retriever, the pedigree must have a performance title. The best standards come from Field Champions and AKC, NAVDA, or UKC Hunt Test. These titles tell you what skills and abilities the dogs have. If the parent dogs have been able to perform well, it is reasonable to believe that the puppies will also. 

Fourth, pick the right puppy from the crowd. Look at the temperament of the puppy. The average hunter will need a dog that is neither too aggressive nor too submissive. Avoid the bully dogs and the dogs that shy away from the group. Watch the way they use their nose. You will want the puppy that searches the area with its nose in order to learn the surroundings. If you are considering future breeding, you will want to consider physical attributes as well.   For more info on choosing a puppy from a litter please read: How To Choose A Puppy From A Litter by pro dog breeder Ed Hall.  It is a excellent article.

Fourth, determine your price point. You can expect to spend no less than $500 for your bird dog. You may see puppies for sale in upwards of $2,500, but most hunters don’t require this kind of dog. A dog in the $500-$800 range should provide a quality puppy that will have great potential. You will be making a time commitment to the dog for training, exercise, and general care, so you should expect an investment.
Thursday, March 11, 2010

Upland Hunting Dogs 101- Learn about the different gun dog breeds

Friday, March 05, 2010

Pheasant Hunting in SD – Preserves or Native Wild?

Pheasant Hunting in SD – Preserves or Native Wild?

Hunting South Dakota preserves or public land for wild birds a list of pros and cons to both hunts.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Public Hunting in South Dakota

Public Hunting in South Dakota

With around 4.5 million of acres of public land in South Dakota, public hunting is a popular option for hunters. South Dakota is a unique hunting state with its large variety of game, some of which include: pheasant, partridge, quail, coyote, mountain lion, fox, dove, deer, geese, and wild turkey. Both big game and small game hunting are popular in South Dakota.

Public hunting in South Dakota has several benefits including easy access to hunting areas, and fewer costs. Private hunting has the benefit of access to some of the best hunting grounds in South Dakota. Although public hunting is less expensive, there may be a preference to hunt in some private areas that have larger game populations. Many private preserves also offer food and lodging.

South Dakota is well known for its public pheasant hunting. South Dakota has some of the best pheasant hunting grounds in the nation, and it draws in thousands of hunters from around the world each year. There are a wide variety of private hunting lodges that offer unique hunting packages. There is also the popular option of public pheasant hunting as well.

Public Pheasant Hunting in South Dakota 

South Dakota has a rich pheasant hunting history. Hundreds of thousands hunters have tracked the diverse terrain of South Dakota in search for the elusive but plentiful wild pheasant. Wild pheasants make their home in the large wooded areas, crop fields, food plots, and weed patches of South Dakota. Although pheasants are found almost all throughout the state, the eastern side of South Dakota has a larger pheasant population than the rest of the state.

Although there are some excellent public pheasant hunting areas, there are several more private preserves. Since most of South Dakota is privately owned, it turns out that many of the best hunting areas are private. But public pheasant hunting has the benefit of lower costs which is appealing to many hunters.

Roadside hunting is popular form of public hunting in South Dakota because it is one of the few states that have legalized it. Pheasant hunters roadside hunt by staying in hotels and hunting along public roads. Hunters stop routinely along public roads and get out of their cars or trucks to search for pheasants along the roadside. Roadside hunting is better for smaller groups or for individual hunters because it generally requires a lot of transportation and moving around.

Along with public and private pheasant hunting, there is the also option of game farm hunting. Game farms are private hunting grounds in which pheasants have been released into the habitat for the purpose of hunting. The South Dakota pheasant hunting season starts in the fall from the middle of October to the beginning of January. The preserve season runs from September until the end of March.

A Top Destination for Pheasant Hunters 

South Dakota is consistently a top destination for pheasant hunters around the world. Pheasants occupy the terrain of South Dakota in large numbers, and the legality of roadside hunting is favorable to many hunters. With access to large pheasant populations and the availability of many public and private hunting options, South Dakota will likely remain the top pheasant hunting state in the nation for a long time.

Late Season Pheasant Hunts in South Dakota

Late Season Pheasant Hunts in South Dakota 

Late season is still an excellent time to hunt pheasants although it may not seem that way. Late season pheasant hunting begins in early December and ends at the beginning of January. There are a lot of differences between late and early season pheasant hunting, and understanding these differences is important before you decide to go pheasant hunting in the late season.

The late season is not the easiest time to hunt. The weather and temperature might not be easy to bear. Wind chill and snow can make staying outdoors for long periods of time difficult. But, the upside is that there are a lot fewer hunters out, and there are still large groups of pheasants outside.

Benefits of Late Season Pheasant Hunting 

Late season pheasant hunting can prove to be very worthwhile for hunters. Many experienced late season pheasant hunters report good yields from their efforts. Although the weather isn’t the most hospitable, there are still plenty of pheasants around. The unique challenge of battling the harsh weather and frozen terrain for pheasants is what draws hunters to hunt in the late season every year.

Late season pheasant hunting has several benefits. Pheasants travel in larger groups that are easier to spot. The groups are also less hidden as there are fewer areas that pheasants tend to congregate in toward the late season. With the crops out of the way, pheasants tend to gather in CRP food plots and grassy areas. Pheasant can more easily be seen in this type of cover rather than early season cover which is practically everywhere.

Another major benefit is the simple fact that there are going to be a lot fewer hunters out. The bitter cold keeps a lot of less courageous hunters inside, which leaves many prime hunting areas open for the hunters willing to take on the elements.

The Differences in Late Season Pheasant Hunting 

Knowing how pheasant behavior changes in the late season will help your chances of hunting success. The coldest winter months are toward the end of the season, and pheasant behavior and migration begins to change pretty dramatically.

One major difference is that pheasants will begin to gather up in much larger groups. But, smaller groups of pheasants are easier to hunt because the more pheasants there are in the group, the more of a chance that one of them will spot you and alert the flock. So, hunters have to be a little faster because of this. Also, since many pheasants have been shot at several times in the previous months, they are going to be even more easily excitable.

Since crops have been harvested by the time late season rolls around, pheasants will move outside of crop fields for food and shelter sources. Pheasants tend to take shelter near dense cover for better weather protection. So, hunters should be sure to check all areas of thick or dense tree or grass cover.

Tips for Late Season Pheasant Hunting 

It is important to consider the type of gear and clothing you should wear in the late season. With very cold weather, insulation is a must if you want to stay out for longer periods and avoid having to retreat to your lodge or truck to warm up. Several layers of insulated clothing are recommended for the best protection against weather.

Understanding that pheasants are going to be much faster in their responses, it is crucial to remain as quiet as possible when searching for flocks. Be sure to scout brush and tree areas as pheasants will tend to hide there to avoid the weather and for protection. A general rule is: the denser that the cover is, the more likely that pheasants will be in it.

Try to avoid windy days because pheasants are harder to shoot at when it’s windy just because the wind will make your fingers numb, and it might be harder to see them as well. It is very helpful to have a trained hunting dog with you to help you spot and scatter flocks and allow you to pursue individual pheasants.

The Late Season is a Great Opportunity 

Late season pheasant hunting is a great time to hunt, and there are many benefits to it, although it seems disadvantageous at first. It is definitely worthwhile for hunters to have a go at the late season to see if they get good results as opposed to early season pheasant hunting. With fewer hunters and large flocks of pheasants still around, the late season is the perfect opportunity to get a few successful hunts in as the season comes to an end.

More South Dakota Late Season Hunting Tips
Find a South Dakota Pheasant Hunting Guide

How to Choose a South Dakota Pheasant Hunting Guide

We just added a great new article to the site:
How to Choose a South Dakota Pheasant Hunting Guide

If your thinking about heading to the promised land this year for a pheasant hunt read this first.

More On Road Hunting In South Dakota

Road Hunting in South Dakota

Road hunting has been popular in South Dakota for many years as an alternative form of public hunting. South Dakota law allows road hunting for small game and pheasants. Public roads are considered rights-of-way that are open for hunting. Road hunting is legal in South Dakota, but there are several laws that strictly regulate this type of hunting.

Road hunters tend to report high yields from their efforts. Part of the reason why road hunters get such a high yield is because pheasants often gather along roads to collect pebbles for digestion. Also road ditches with brush are common hiding and gathering grounds for pheasants. Road hunting can require a lot of traveling and many road hunters hop from motel to motel in search of pheasants along the public roads of South Dakota.

Rules and Regulations for Road Hunting in South Dakota 

Road hunting is controversial because many private land owners contest that the grounds around public roads are their property and should not be used by road hunters without their consent. However, any game that is shot from a public road that falls on private property may be retrieved by unarmed hunters by law. But, it is still recommended that road hunters seek the permission of private land owners before going onto their property to retrieve game. This helps to avoid unnecessary conflicts and problems.

The law requires hunters to be at least 660 feet away from occupied buildings, homes, livestock, churches, and schools. These laws are strictly enforced in South Dakota. The restrictions on hunting around these areas are for safety reasons and to prevent conflicts between residents and hunters. Also the roads used for road hunting must be well travelled by a clearly worn vehicle trail, otherwise the road may be considered private and unauthorized for hunting.

Self-Guided Private Hunting as an Alternative 

Since most of South Dakota is privately owned, public hunters will often find themselves restricted in the areas that they can hunt in. Private hunting is a way for public hunters to get access to some of the better hunting areas in South Dakota.

For the traditional public road hunter, the option of private hunting may not be very appealing. Having to pay more money and dealing with group number restrictions might not be preferable. However, recently there has been an increased interest in self-guided private hunting.

Although the price of private hunting is higher than public hunting or road hunting, there is the added benefit of hunting on exclusive grounds that are often teeming with pheasants. Self-guided private hunting fees are also normally a lot less than guided hunts.

Self-Guided Hunting Works for Public Hunters and Land Owners 

Farmers and other land owners in South Dakota might not have an interest in setting up guided hunts, but want to make additional income throughout the year. So offering self-guided hunting works perfectly for those land owners who want to license out their land for a fee but don’t want to have to deal with organizing private guided hunts.

Self-guiding hunting is also perfect for those public hunters would prefer to go it alone rather than hunt with the assistance of a guide. However, less experienced public hunters would likely do better on a guided hunt. Self-guided hunting helps road hunters and public hunters avoid conflicts with residents and private land owners, and it also helps private land owners make additional income that they would otherwise not have made. It is a win-win situation for both public hunters and land owners, and it is becoming a viable solution to road hunting conflicts.


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