|A group of intact males happily running together in South Dakota|
Recently I read a blog that said something to the effect of NEVER send your dog to a trainer that has dogs out for playtime in a yard together.
I suppose by that logic:
- Never send your dog to daycare where they play with other dogs,
- Never take them to the beach or the park.
- Never let a dog walker with another dog take your dog for a walk.
- Never leave them at a friends house where there might be another dog.
- Never run them in the hunting field with another dog.
- That would also mean Never enter them in a Hunt test, or Field trial. Certainly you wouldn't have to worry about a scuffle.
Now I understand as well as anyone there are dogs that just don't get along. Frankly those dogs are pretty easy to spot. Their body language tells it all, up front and out there. With those dogs, it can get awfully lonely hunting by yourself. Most of us like a buddy to go hunting with. A good dog needs to be used to being around other dogs, they need to be able to shrug off a bump, not be worried about a dog backing them on a bird, etc. How do you get dogs used to that? Well, playtime and running dogs in the field together is a good start.
When introducing a new dog - we like to put them first in chain link pens beside one another to see if they are trying to play through the fence or posture aggressively. If they do posture, we leave them side by side for several days where they get used to each other, but can't come in contact with each other. In a few days they usually warm up to one another and realize it's no big deal. Dog A is no threat to dog B, they just look different. If they simply don't like each other - and it occasionally happens, they just don't like each other. In most cases these will generally be older dogs that have a fair bit of training on them, are studly and know it. Younger dogs are generally pretty easy going.
There's always some element of risk in putting dogs together - a chase game can tumble into a crash into another dog and a quick scuffle causing an injury just as easily as jumping over a log and getting a puncture in a foot or hitting barbed wire and cutting skin. There are hazards in running dogs, and also in running dogs together. As hard as we work to avoid it , dogs - just like people and every other competing animal on the planet can and do occasionally get in a fight. No one likes it, but at the end of the day - Nature is Nature. Training can overcome it a great deal, in fact most of the time, unfortunately for all of us not in every instance. Never letting them get near another dog however, is a sure fire way to make sure they don't know how to get along - and that itself will lead to a fight quicker than anything.
I'm sure there are and always will be folks who want a lock down facility to absolutely ensure safety from a dog fight 100% and enjoy solitude hunting where there's no risk of an altercation with another dog. We prefer the dogs get to enjoy life fully. To us, that means they get to interact with one another, play together, run together and hunt together.