Lilly on the boat
with mallard drake.
a retriever in your boat is an important part of the hunt. My personal
preference is a female Lab. Besides being easy to train, they don't weigh as
much as males. I do, however, have friends with 85-90 lb. males that are
excellent boat dogs.
key here is a well behaved dog. Don't expect your dog to perform well without
some training. There are some special situations which require training above
and beyond normal retrieving duties. Your dog will stay outside of the cockpit
which reduces water in the boat and keeps you dry. I attach a piece of
indoor/outdoor carpet on the boat for her lie comfortably. The carpet also
allows your dog to grip an otherwise slippery surface. Exits from the boat are
much more stable and graceful with the aid of the carpet.
times out of ten, when you give your dog a line on a downed bird, the line will
go through the middle of your boat or your hunting partner's boat. Training is
necessary to teach your dog the correct line, which is not through anyone's
boat. The same goes for after the bird is retrieved. Your dog must swim around
to the back to get on the boat. In deep water they will put both front feet on
the boat. When they do, place your hand on the back of their head. They will
naturally arch their back, which will allow you to pull them onto the boat.
This is easy with a 60 lb. dog; not so easy with a 90 lb. dog.
have trained my dog not to shake until I get the bird from her. This allows me
to position her so water will not get inside the cockpit. To do this your
retriever must hold the bird until you ask for it. It is an easy step from
there to teach when to shake. Remember the whole idea of this system is to be
comfortable. Comfortable in my book means dry.
added protection from dog water I erect a splash guard between my dog and the
cockpit. I just cut a piece of plastic tarp and attach it to my blind frame
with binder clips. The splash guard also acts as a wind break if you have set
up with the wind at your back.
will find that your dog will train you as much as you train him. I use to try
and keep my dog facing the direction I thought she would have the best view.
After retrieving hundreds of ducks she has decided she knows which is the best
way to sit. She rarely misses a mark, so I don't care which way she faces.
bottom line on dogs and boats is they must have boat manners. If they don't;
train them, leave them at home or don't hunt out of a boat. If you do take an
untrained dog in your boat, don't hunt with any of your friends.
Plans can be ordered from:
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The cost is $29.95
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