I grew up running two at a time. I’m not sure if this came from our field trial background or if it was the normal thing my dad did prior to me starting to hunt. Maybe it was from the two of us hunting together and we were each responsible for keeping track of “our” dog. This was back in the day before tracking collars and it was long before we ran beepers. We used bells to keep up with a moving dog and you had to know where he was last if you wanted to find him on point. These kids have it so easy with their fancy GPS tracking units!!
In a field trial, you run a “brace” of two dogs. That’s how the competition is designed. I find that you will get a similar competition between dogs when you run them together in a hunt. Much of it depends on the dogs, but just like people some are extremely competitive. You can get different behaviors when running a pair of dogs vs running one dog solo.
It’s my normal method to run two at a time. I have my pairs planned out. I try to put dogs together that will complement each other in style, range and talent. It’s tricky at times but it helps to know your dogs well. On occasion, I’ll run three at a time but the third has to be a dog that requires zero thought. It’s usually Dot or Jack that gets the ok to drop in as my third. They are my easy members of the crew.
I also have dogs that I’ll run with others folks hounds and dogs that I won’t. That’s back to competition and some dogs not “playing well” with others. It’s not worth it in my opinion to try and run certain dogs especially some of my males with other males. I have a few knuckleheads.
I do try and run dogs solo. This is especially important with my younger dogs. While I think it can be good to run a young dog with an older dog, you have to make sure that the young dog gets plenty of opportunities to be successful. If she ends up only getting to back (honor another dog on point via sight,) you might end up with a dog that thinks backing is their job. I’ve seen it happen.
Managing my dogs and getting everyone time on the ground is important. It’s tricky when you have a truckload and you hunt with other folks.