I talked about getting the pick of the litter in Part 2 of this article series. Now you have to decide whether you want a started dog or a finished dog.
So now you know what you’re looking for in a puppy, but what if you do not want to deal with puppy hood? Started dogs are sold on a regular basis and can make good gun dogs. The first question that needs to be asked of the seller is, “Why are you selling this dog?” People do not sell good dogs without good reasons, so be sure to get the right answers from the seller before you make your purchase. Most started dogs are sold because the owner has made serious training mistakes or the pup simply does not have what is necessary to become a nice dog.
When you are looking at a started dog, there is no way you can properly evaluate the dog in one or two sessions. Therefore, insist on a 30-day test drive so that you and pup can feel each other out. You may expect this dog to live in the home with you and the seller may have lied to you knowing full well that this pup spent his entire life in a kennel. During this 30-day test drive, try to find as many faults as possible. You'll probably need to visit a professional trainer and enlist his services. A pro can find most dogs’ faults in a short amount of time and save you lots of headaches. If you and pup are compatible and his faults are acceptable, write the seller a check.
If you want a finished dog from a started dog, there is a lot of training to be done. Gain as much information as possible from the seller as to how the dog was trained and what drills it has been conditioned to perform. Revisit the drills so you and pup can get on the same page before moving forward with new material.
Instant gratification has been the American way and that is the choice many people select when looking for a dog. In buying a finished dog, you must be very careful. Few dogs trained to a finished level are sold. This dog will sell for a great deal of money, so make sure he is worth the investment. Find a professional trainer and pay him to drive this dog as hard as possible for a few days. It should not take him long to evaluate the training and potential in this dog.
Each time I hear someone speak of purchasing a finished dog, I chuckle and think of an incident told to me many years ago. A gentleman from the city was told he could purchase a very nice finished dog from a trainer in the next county. So, he hopped in his car and drove out into the country in hopes of purchasing a nice dog and impressing his friends. When he arrived, the trainer was waiting on the dude with his dog trailer. They went out into a field and the trainer took the first prospect out and ran an incredibly difficult blind retrieve with the dog using eleven whistle stops and line corrections. The buyer was mightily impressed and asked what the price of the dog. The trainer responded $3,000.
He then went around the trailer and took a dog off to run the same blind. This dog completed the same complex retrieve while only requiring one whistle and line correction. The buyer was so excited; he could hardly contain himself, “How much for that dog?” The trainer dropped his head and explained this was his personal dog but times were hard. He only offered this dog for sale because he needed money to pay for his son’s operation. The trainer said, “I can’t take anything less than $5,000 for my dog.” The city slicker quickly took the cash out and paid the trainer. Feeling like he had stolen a nice dog at a bargain price, he then headed back to town.
The trainer returned to his farm and was met by his wife who asked how things had gone. Which dog did the man buy? The trainer replied that he had only taken one dog and ran the same blind retrieve twice with the same dog. Of course the dog ran it much better on the second try because he knew where to go. The gentleman from town was so excited that he did not pay attention to what was happening. The trainer and his wife had a great laugh while they planned their vacation to the Hawaii.
Be careful with trainers and the dogs they run, things may not be as they appear.
Always check your local and state regulations related to dog training and the use of game birds on private and public property.