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How To Train A Hunting Dog

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If you own a dog and you have great love for outdoor activities such as swimming, retrieving, hiking and more, you will agree that they are forms of adventure and fun for both you and your dog. 

This is especially true for hunting, which is a recreational exercise that helps train dogs to grow into valuable assets.  Now let us delve into basic rudiments for training your hunting dog.

How to train a hunting dog
Photo Credit: Adrianna Calvo, Pexels.com

Task Definition

Hunting demands building a variety of skills and evolved behaviors which require instructions more complex than sit, come or stay and for dogs to be best at hunting, this training cannot take place in just one night, it should begin by practicing solid obedience and socialization until your dog’s stamina progresses mentally and physically.

Knowing The Basics

Before getting started on how best to train your dog, you must ensure that they imbibe simple obedience commands. By this, we mean responding to commands such as fetching, sitting or staying. 

You would also need to train it to loosen up its energy intensity to avoid distractions and to have a firm heel because this would be useful in keeping the dog right at your back and away from danger.

There are different important tools you’ll need, and it depends on the kind of hunting you’re planning to embark on with the dog in tow. With safety being the most important, your dog would need one of those bright colored vest used to distinguish canines from any other animal during hunting. 

You’d need several retrieving dummies, solid collars and leashes to train your dog properly on bird retrieval and enable them to get proper exposure to numerous obstacles and elements they might encounter during hunting. This is a very important step.

Video: How to train your hunting dog

This video explains how you can train your dog to do well in hunting.

Socialization 101

Getting Close To Your Dog

How do you familiarize yourself with your dog?

To familiarize yourself with your dog, you must first understand that dogs are fun to be with and make them your friends. You should get him some toys so they could learn proper accountability. After this stage, get to introduce him to other neighboring dogs (preferably those you know). Getting him to like you is easy.

Building close rapport with your dog is very essential; the dog’s eagerness to appease its owner seems to have more effect than any reward given or withdrawn. You also have to see to it that he has a good relationship with other pets, people and hunters.

Your dog sees when you’re rattled, so as much as you can, be in control of your emotions so he does not get roughed up. You can also engage the dog in fun activities involving other pups and even your family. Go on walks together to give him room for exploration.

Get A Quality Dog Carrier

What is a dog crate or carrier?

A dog crate (otherwise a dog cage/carrier) is a wire, plastic, fabric, or metal enclosure having a door in which a dog is kept for transportation or security. Dog crates are made to replicate a dog’s natural den and as such can provide them with a place of refuge at home or when transferring to an entirely new environment. 

This is a plus when it comes to training your dog. Getting the dog on travels or short walks in a carrying crate is very essential to him having fun. He gets used to it early enough and does not avoid it completely (well, except when he knows you are taking him to the hospital).

Also ensure to get a crate his size, and some kennel jackets and beds to keep him comfortable.

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Give Them Space To Fly

Well, not literally. But you need to permit him to explore, run around, discover game birds, and new places. Your dog’s confidence needs to be boosted enough to go hunting with you. Lengthen the training and hunting sessions, increase its predatory instincts and contribute to its body strength.

It is very important that at this phase you introduce GPS dog collars to locate your dog no matter where he is because it is very likely that he would get lost or be in trouble. So you need to keep tabs on him.

Also, it is expected that you come in contact with water while hunting. So intentionally introduce the dog to water and waterfowl breeds.

Begin With Basic Commands

A lot of dog owners want theirs to immediately start responding to multiple commands without a long and proper training. That will simply get the dog confused. Begin with basic stuff such as stand, catch and sit.

Infuse other commands into your training events.

His First Bird Experience

Before you take on this exercise, be sure to avoid any distractions by staying in a quiet area. You can use a long dead pigeon on the first session because he can’t flap his wings and scare him away for a while. Then, give the pigeon to the dog to hold but stop him assuming he tries to bite or shake it.

Bad behaviors should not be allowed during training as this will lead to hard mouth and rough games. 

As the training increases, you might want to order some dummies, whistles, training wings, and several other equipment for training dogs.

How to train a hunting dog
Photo Credit: Flickr, Pexel.com

What Are The Method of Desensitization to Louder Noises In Dogs?

The steps below explain desensitization to booming noise in dogs include:

Step 1: Familiarize the dog with loud noises immediately. While he is still young, introduce him to household noises such as pot banging, plates clashing, or pounding.

Step 2: Aim for calmness. While your pooch may initially be ruffled by loud household noises, he will eventually become more used to them and start ignoring them. If he remains unruffled, praise, and treats him immediately. This will create a positive disposition.

Step 3: Enhance sound variety and levels when you notice your dog becoming more comfortable with the household noises. You can add to the variety by taking him outdoors to places such as the park, a bus station, and the highway. People laughing loudly, cars horning are ideal noisy settings to familiarize your dog with.

Step 4: Expose him to sounds of gun recorded on tape. This is necessary if you have plans of using a gun for hunting; you will have to make your dog get used to sounds and effects associated with gun firing. You can easily get records of gunfire online; this would help stimulate the sounds while making sure your dog is ready for the coaching.

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It is worthy to note that you have to work at the dog’s own pace. Noise exposure must be done gradually, depending on the speed by which your dog familiarizes himself with such sounds.

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The Method of Adapting to Obstacles

Guide 1: Expose the dog to a diversity of floorings.

How do you expose a dog to multiple floorings?

To expose a dog to multiple floorings do the following:

1. lining their carrier with artificial grass. 

2. You should try taking your dog to visit the beach and experience sandy floorings. 

3. Encourage him to walk, run, and jump on these floorings using treats as an incentive.

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Guide 2: Train them to like obstacles

How do you train your dog to like obstacles and not refrain from them?

You can train your dog to like obstacles by enhancing his agility training with seriousness and focus so as to develop in him solid hunting capacity. Also, get him to ascend and descend several apparatuses in your agility course with him. This is one of the major ways to prepare him for climbing rough terrains.

Guide 3:

Many dogs grow to be uncomfortable of overhead hanging obstacles that can brush against their body and cast shadows, like a tree branch. Assist your dog in overcoming such obstacles. Frequently hang items such as towels or tree branches over their crates.

Guide 4:

Another very essential obstacle to help your dog overcome before he can be ready for hunting is the tunnel.  You need to train him to get through places like holes and tunnels – many of the agility courses have these materials. Your dog should be able to come in and out of tunnels on command.

Guide 5:

Take the sessions a notch higher. Once you are convinced that your pup can function effectively under noise and places such as tunnels and holes, create a setting that involves both elements. For example, banging items together and rustling hefty bags while attempting to get through tunnels creates real-life stimulation for the dog.

The Advanced “Return Method”

Guide 1:

Teach the dog to be comfortable with touching/ holding your hand. You can do this by frequently offering him small treats. When he noses your hand, let go of the treat.

Guide 2:

Slowly increase your distance. Once you realize that the dog comfortably touches your hand, let go of the treat and still find a way for him to keep touching you.

If you still want to reward him, you can do that with your other hand – this would associate that touch with rewards even if there is absence of food on the hand he is holding on to.

Guide 3:

Utilize vocal and hand signs. This should be done once he is reliably in contact with your hand.  Choose a word your dog would be able to recall immediately such as come and sit. But you can use more uncommon words, probably one in your local dialect.

Hand signals such as raising your hands are also great associations. Make sure it is something your dog can understand even if he doesn’t get a vocal command.

Guide 4: 

Combine your recall practices with distractions. Immediately your pup has mastered his recall, choose an area high on distractions such as dog parts, sidewalks, fairs and stores to enhance his ability to respond readily even in a challenging environment.

Plan Your Training Properly and Critique

Remember the dog is still evolving. So, before you start a session with your dog, make sure to have an already laid out plan. Take notice of its weaknesses and strengths and remember that your training sessions reflect your own ability to teach.

If along the way you get frustrated, get the help of a professional dog trainer. But if you are one who sees this to bond with him, you can simply make improvements by studying your notes after each session and making necessary changes.

Dog training should be a fun exercise for both your dog and you, the owner. Just make sure to be consistent, patient and relaxed. You’ll have so much fun!

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section. You can also check out how to go hunting here.

How To Train A Hunting Dog- Related Frequently Asked Questions

What Should I Be Looking For When Finding The Best Class For Training A Labrador Puppy?

When finding the best class for training a labrador puppy, look for a trainer who appreciates that each puppy is different. Avoid puppy classes where the trainer treats the dogs as though they are more or less all the same. Here are other things to look out for:

  1. Check if the training method is too rigid for the dog.  
  2. Know if the dog is a little bit more sensitive. 
  3. Examine the puppy to know if it does not lack ability but needs a careful approach to its education.

What Is A Field Dog Trial?

A field dog trial is a trial or meet advertised as such and open to entry by persons whose dogs qualify. In such trials, no less than four participants with their dogs are permitted to dog train in a contest. Dogs are awarded trophies, points, or other actual honors for the performance and demonstration of the hunting skills at the event.

Live birds legally possessed are released and used during a field dog trial when permitted. Weapons and firearms with live ammunition may be possessed during the trial. Individuals who own a firearm with live ammunition must have a base license for the current year.

What Should I Know About Slip Leads For Hunting Dogs?

You should know that using slip leads is the simplest way to control a dog. Slip leads adjust to the size of any dog’s neck and make it impossible for dogs to back out of them.

When correctly used, a slip lead is a straightforward and effective tool for hunting dogs (gundogs). It was also made as an easy lead to carry so it could quickly be “slipped” unto your dog after work.

Slip leads must be used accurately because there are a number of horrific incidents that will occur when they are wrongly placed. Many times, where there is improper handling of a slip lead, the dog starts coughing and that means you are basically strangling it.

How Do I Put A Slip Lead On A Hunting Dog Correctly?

To put on a slip lead correctly, the lead should be positioned over your dog’s head with a sliding ring closest to your leg. When it is on the correct way, the ring will slide up and down the lead easily. 

If you walk with your dog on your left side, then look from the front of the dog. The lead will go over the dog’s neck in a clockwise direction, then down the opposite side, under the throat to the sliding link near your leg. 

Your slip lead needs to be long enough to have plenty of slack and be of good-quality soft rope that is supple enough for it to slide freely.

What Should I Do If My Dog Is Gun Shy?

Here’s what to do if your dog is gun shy:

  • Alter their feeding routine: Do not feed the dog for a day, then serve them food and water. After that, clap your hands. 
  • Exposure and outings: Where the ‘feeding routine’ does not work properly with your dog, find something else they really like. Often, your dog will just want to be out of the kennel. So, going for a walk will suffice. 
  • Association: when trying to solve a case of gun shyness, let your dog run with other dogs. He should feel comfortable in that scenario. When they are all concentrating on each other, fire off a gun and see how they adapt like other dogs. 

What Is Agility In Dog Training And Why Would I Take It?

Agility is a fun-filled dog sport that takes your dog on navigating tunnels, jumps, teeters, and more. It is a great way to keep a dog mentally and physically active as well as build confidence. Agility relies on teamwork. So, you and your dog need to learn how to communicate and work together as a team.

Also, it is cool to see your dog figure out that he can run through a tunnel. For young, old, or physically challenged dogs, the exercise can be made to fit their needs. 

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