Kennel Confinement or In-House Inhabitant by Gary Adair
While it goes without saying that our hunting dogs should be safely confined in a kennel while in transit, there is an unwavering debate amongst bird hunters as to whether our gun dogs should remain outside in a kennel or allowed to have free-range of the house while at home.
In fact, if a poll were taken on the subject it would prove inconclusive. The results would be split evenly down the middle and while there is no right or wrong answer, just personal preference, I believe the benefits of keeping a dog indoors far outweighs any of the negative assumptions.
Many who are pro-kennel adhere to the verbiage; “Never spoil a bird dog” in that keeping a dog indoors will errantly accomplish just that. Well from a bonding standpoint I would say I have to disagree. Not only do I feel that my dogs and I have a solid relationship with mutual love and devotion towards one another, others see it too and are quick to point it out. Just ask my wife who frequently reiterates “These dogs think you’re God” or my friends and hunting companions who refer to them as “a little spoiled” and overly obsessed with me. Perhaps they‘re right but the payback I receive in and out of the field more than justifies keeping my dogs inside. It is without question that allowing my dogs to be part of the family, and the interaction they receive from us on a daily basis, has more than paved the way for how my dogs hunt and handle today. I know I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Another common but questionable opinion is that an outdoor dog is a much better candidate for acclimating to the elements during the cold and inclement months of late winter. Considering that many bird hunters travel from southern climes in search of game birds to the north, no one that I know has ever mentioned having their dogs suffer from any weather-related exposure. Besides, indoor dogs that live in a region with such adverse conditions would become acclimated just with jaunts into the yard to do their daily business, not to mention being hunted during this time of year. I know my wife, who hates the cold, regularly complains she is “freezing” from late September through December. Yet, come January, I never hear another word about the weather. Her body has adjusted, just as a dog will, and she is only outdoors long enough to enter and exit the vehicle.
Although gun dogs were nothing more than mere hunting tools during yesteryear, today’s four-legged companion has become an integral part of the family. Now we wouldn’t keep a family member outside, would we?
Consequently, this closeness ensures that we are in tune if one of our dogs becomes ill; it also prevents the possibility of theft. That alone should be reason enough for indoor confinement. I remember reading a recent post on the Pointing Dog Journals hunting forum where a guy mentioned that he never let his dogs in the house, only to be followed by the reply “Why own a dog?” Not my words, of course, but my sentiments exactly.
The decision on where to board a gun dog still comes down to personal preference. Although some who are against keeping a dog indoors may have justifiable reasons, no room, allergies, etc., I still believe an indoor hunting dog is a perfect fit. Besides, with game bird seasons lasting only a couple of months in some states, what quality-of-life can a dog that spends as many as ten months confined have? Hell, my dogs and I even get a full 6 months afield, but I still cherish the off-season with my dogs just the same.