I built a 9.3 acre starting pen in October of 2011 to use to start dogs for the public. A lot of thought went into this prior to committing to building this pen. I built our first training / starting pen of 11.6 acres back in 2006. I used that pen to start my pups as well as starting dogs for the public. That went on for a couple of years but it got to be very hectic because of the high demand for people wanting me to start their dogs but I had such a back up that I had a pen that wasn’t always ready for me to use when my pups needed to be in it so I quit starting dogs for the public in 2008.
It was also very frustrating when people would bring me a dog that wasn’t bred very well or that was a year old & they hadn’t worked with the dog at all so it was very shy & timid but I was supposed to turn it into a rabbit hunting machine in 2 weeks.
It wasn’t all bad though. I met a lot of good people who had some very good young dogs that we were able to get started quickly & they were very pleased with the results of putting their dogs in our starting pen.
I want to make one thing real clear.......... I didn’t build this pen to get rich! I will be years getting the money back I put into it. It was built to help people who have a desire to get their young dogs started. As a matter of fact I don’t even want to know what the cost was because it would probably depress me.
I still use the 11.6 acre starting pen to start my dogs & I will not be using it for the public. This will give me the opportunity to always have a pen available for myself.
WHAT DOES OUR PEN CONSIST OF?
I designed this pen to have several different things in it with a plan for it to produce some well rounded young started dogs who would learn how to find rabbits in several different places such as brush piles, thick patches of seresa, briar thickets, broom sage grass, etc. I dropped several trees all over this pen so the rabbits will have plenty of places to hide from the aerial predators as well as the dogs especially once the natural vegetation grows up where the sunlight can now reach the ground. I’ve done this in my other pen & the results were unbelievable habitat.
I built 2 small ponds as a water source for the rabbits & also as a place for the dogs to get water as needed when they are out running. I also planted wheat, winter rye, & ladino clover in the lanes to establish a food source for the rabbits. I am also planting some fruit trees & blackberry shrubs as well as putting out some feeders with corn in them to create an awesome paradise for the rabbits to survive.
The rabbits in the pen are wild rabbits & rabbits that I have raised & placed in the pen. I will continue to put more rabbits in the pen as I have them ready.
HOW WILL YOU TRAIN MY DOGS?
I will put a small pack (maximum of 8) of unstarted dogs in the pen with 1 - 2 of my finished dogs. I usually use some of my older dogs that are just a little slower than my regular pack is so they don’t won’t leave the young pups in the dust. I put the dogs out in the pen at night if the ground isn’t frozen. The reason for this is to make the dog hunt using it’s nose & not just sight chasing. I’ve found that it also makes the dog learn to hunt better if there’s no one in the pen beating the thickets & helping them. I want the dog to do the hard work & beat the thicket.
AT WHAT AGE SHOULD I PUT MY DOG IN THE STARTING PEN?
I won’t train any dog under 4 months of age. I try to start all of my pups at 4 months but if the weather is too hot or you can’t get them in a pen you have no choice but to wait. Some dogs aren’t ready to start at 4 months old but I’d prefer to get them started as close to 4 months as possible than to wait until they are almost a year old. 4-6 months old is perfect.
In my opinion a dog learns more in the first year of it’s life than it does at any other time of it’s life. I also believe that out of that first year the majority of the learning takes place in the first 6 months.
WHAT DO YOU CHARGE TO START DOGS?
I charge $5 per dog per day that the dogs are here. This price covers the use of the pen plus dog food, etc. I feed Black Gold dog food & I’ll make sure they are fed well. I don’t want you to bring any dog food. Payment is due in full when you pick up your dogs.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO START MY DOG?
Every dog is different. There are several factors that result in how fast your dog starts like the breeding, how much you have worked with the dog prior to it coming here, have you shown it a rabbit before, the dogs interest & drive, etc.
I like to give them a minimum of 2 weeks in the pen. Even if they take off the first week they will improve drastically during the second week because they should get more excited & more confident the more rabbits they run. If a dog has no interest at all after 2 weeks I will let you know & you can decide whether to continue or quit the training. I would not leave a dog in the pen any longer than a month. I believe in giving every dog a fair chance to start but some just aren’t cut out to be a rabbit dog. You have a duty to know what you are bringing to the pen is worth you spending your money on.
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN A DOG IS STARTED?
I inspect every dog each morning looking for signs of scratches on the ears, wear & tear on the end of the nose, etc. I also listen for races at night & early in the morning. When I hear a mouth that I know isn’t one of mine I know someone is running. I also go into the pen at different times & check to see who’s hunting & running. I don’t have time to take your dogs out in the wild because I’m always running my own.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE BEFORE I CAN GET MY DOGS IN YOUR PEN?
When you call don’t expect to get your dogs in right away. You should call & get your name on the waiting list when you know you are going to have some dogs to train in the next 2-3 months. I anticipate that I’ll be backed up most of the time if it’s anything like it was before.
I will go in the order of the names on the waiting list but I will do everything within my power to get as many people as I can taken care of as fast as I can. For example, if a person has 1-2 dogs to start they can be put in with another person who has 4 dogs to start even if they were behind other people on the list if those other people have 4-6 dogs to start because I won’t put any more than 6 in the pen at one time.
It’s better to be on the list than wait for an opening. I will call people in the order of the waiting list so call or email ASAP to get your name on the list.
DO YOU START DOGS YEAR ROUND?
No! We can usually go from September - May. It just depends on the weather. If it’s in the upper 70's at night it’s too hot & heat stroke would be a major concern.
RULES FOR THE STARTING PEN:
YOUR DOGS MUST BE UP TO DATE ON SHOTS & WORMING
Be responsible & do the right thing. I’m running a quality pen & I don’t need any problems resulting from anybody’s laziness & carelessness.
YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE TO PAY EVEN IF YOUR DOG DOESN’T START
I’m not a miracle worker. I’ll do my part but I didn’t breed the dog so if it doesn’t have what it needs don’t blame me. Talk to the person who bred the dog or the person who sold it to you.
PICK UP YOUR DOGS WHEN THEY ARE READY
If you don’t get the dogs once you are called you will be charged $5 per day per dog even if they are not run in the pen. I have a limited amount of space. If you leave the dog for 30 days after you are called, the dog will be sold & you will be banned from getting any training in the future.
WE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR:
Physical injuries or death from snake bites, dog fights, etc. while in the starting pen.
Dogs who escape the pen & run off.
Dogs who refuse to start or show any effort to run a rabbit.
Dogs getting bred while in the starting pen. I do try to pay attention to females to make sure they're aren't in heat but I will not guarantee that it can't possibly happen. I won't leave a dog in the pen if I know it's in heat.