Gun dogs, such as Spaniels, Retrievers and Pointers, are generally the breeds of dogs preferred while hunting birds. Breeds like 'Setters' are also counted among the pets that serve hunting purposes. Such dogs are trained to assist the hunter in retrieving the games. If you are the owner of a gun dog or any other hunting dog, you will have to teach him to sit, hold, fetch/retrieve or smell, before going on a hunting trip with him. If you need any help, check out the instructions, for teaching a dog to hunt, provided in the following lines.
How To Train Your Dog To Hunt
Place one of your hands on your dog's hind legs and press it gently downwards, while giving the command 'sit'. Place the other hand on his back and press it to the ground. This will make him sit. If your dog resists lying down on the first attempt, give him a tug on the leash and repeat the command once again. Praise him and reward him with a treat, if and when he sits in the desired position.
Once your dog understands how to sit, when you command him to do so, you can take the lesson one step further and teach him how to hold the position. First, tell him to sit. Now, start stepping away from him, while giving the command 'hold'. If he tries to follow you, give him a gentle swat on the chest and repeat the command once again.
The next step is to let the pet roam around and then ask him to come back to you. To do this, you need to put your dog on a 20 feet leash, with a choke collar. Let him wander around on the leash. Now, give the command 'come'. If he resists doing so, tighten the collar around his neck. He will quickly learn what he has to do, when you give the command 'come'. The moment he comes to you, get down to his level and reward him with a treat.
It is important to train your dog to fetch, for all types of hunting and especially when you want to hunt a bird. To teach this technique, get a mid-size corn cob, remove all its kernels and let it dry. This will make the corn cob coarse and prickly, which the dog would not want to bite or chew on. Now, take a dead bird of the kind you want to hunt and take out all its wings. Rub the corpse of the dead bird onto the cob, to get the odor onto it. Attach the wings of the dead bird to the cob. Twirl the cob and toss it. When you toss the cob in the air, give your dog the command 'fetch'! When the dog brings the cob back to you, get down to his level. Praise and reward him with treat.
An important step in teaching a dog to hunt is to make him recognize the smell. Introduce him to the scent of the animal or bird that you are going to hunt. For instance, if you are teaching your dog to hunt opossum, raccoon or fox, make use of the fur of the 'prey'. Show the fur to the dog and allow him to smell it. Now, take the fur and place it away from him. Now, tell him to get the hidden fur, by giving him the command 'fetch'. Your dog would love to search for the fur and bring it back to you, getting treats for the same.
- Make the entire training session a rewarding experience for your dog. Praise him for every good attempt and try to reward him with treats after each lesson.
- You may also use dummy or attach scent to a decoy, in order to teach the dog to recognize the scent of the prey.
- Condition your dog before going for a hunt. Make sure that he is well groomed, fed and healthy. Prior to hunting, get him checked by a veterinary doctor.
- You need to get your dog accustomed to the sound of the gunshots. Expose him to the real hunting situations often, so that he get used to it.
- It is better to train a dog to hunt at an early age, say soon after he is adopted. Remember, it is difficult to teach new tricks to an old dog.