Dog Manners & Bird Hunting Etiquette

Next time you are out with your buddies or a new group, think of not only yourself, but the group you are hunting with. Everyone has spent lots of time and resources to get to this point.  You have been planning this hunt for months.   Don’t let you and your dog ruin it for everyone. 

When folks want to go hunting, and have dogs, they want to take them.  But sometimes we do not realize that sitting on the back porch, or sofa, or chasing squirrels is a good way to get our dogs in shape for hunting.

Something to think about the next time you decide to take your dogs on a hunting trip.

Etiquette for Hunting with dogs:

1.       Keep your comments to yourself and don’t yell at other dogs.  Kindly remind the owner to keep control of their dogs.

2.       Before you hunt, decide which dogs to hunt together.  If there are several young, or untrained dogs, run them separately from the dogs that are trained well. 

3.       If you see a dog on Point, put your orange hat up in the air to let everyone know you see a dog on point. Keep the noise to a minimum to avoid spooking the birds.

4.       Time in the field is of the utmost importance – Especially with young dogs. But be aware how young dogs can interfere with the hunt, or spook and chase birds.

"Parker" and a Garmin Astro

5.       GPS Tracking Collar, these are invaluable and are a great insurance policy. Though they are not perfect, they are very helpful.  I use a Garmin, and overall, it has been very useful.

6.       Lost Dog – have a plan in mind in case you lose your dog.   If you can, plan to camp out in the area as long as you can.  If you have several dogs, they can act as a beacon and help guide your lost get dog back to the area by barking.

Dog Manners:

1.       Keep from over handling, or screaming at your dog or the over use of whistles.

2.       Get your dog in hunting condition or in really good shape.

3.       Teach your dog some manners:  Recall (come, hear) whoa, and heal.

4.       Bird Down – No Man’s Land.  This is a real pet peeve of mine. If I shoot a bird that my dog pointed, I want my dog to be rewarded with the retrieve. 

5.       Use events such as the AKC Hunt Tests or NAVHDA to help you with your dog handling and training: and

6.       Why is backing (honoring) important?  I was on a hunt in South Dakota when I noticed one of my Vizslas on point.  It did not look like a very stylish point, but she was honoring another dog. If she hadn’t provided us that honor, we may have never noticed the other dog on point.  He was down in a low area where we could not see him.  Another situation is a dog is on point in the middle of a spread out covey feeding. If your dog goes charging in there, then that covey will bust, and there will be no shooting opportunities. 

Dog on point with an honor at Elephant Mountain WMA.

I am not saying you need to be hunting with a Master Hunter quality trained dog, but hunting with a dog with some basic obedient training will make you and your buddies hunt much more enjoyable.  You will be rewarded, and who knows, maybe you will be invited to another hunt!

Alan Blakemore is an upland enthusiast and an owner handler, owner trainer of Hungarian Vizslas. ( He is currently the Secretary of the Lone Star Quail/Pheasant Forever chapter of Dallas/Fort Worth. (