Activities For Hunting Dogs

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Introduction

Dogs have accompanied their owners on the hunt for hundreds of years. The nobility of Europe owned hounds that they used to assist them in chasing foxes and other prey as a pastime of the wealthy. Early Americans used dogs as hunting companions to flush out prey. Hounds such as the Black and Tan Virginia Foxhound were mated with Bloodhounds to develop the Coonhound, a dog that was utilized to hunt raccoons. Even today, there are still a few hunters who train their dogs to flush out deer and birds as they hunt. The hunting dog is a working dog with a great deal of energy as they were once expected to run several miles a day. Although many people now own these dogs for pleasure and not as a hunter, you must still provide ample activity for the natural-born hunter.

Nose Work

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Sunny Day
Cheap
Normal
60 min
Items needed
essential oils - lavender or anise
hand towel
smelly treats
Activity description
The hunting dog is unequivocally a scent hound. Put that nose to work and you'll find Fido happily in pursuit of a smelly treat or other treasure. You can begin doing nose work even as early as six months of age. Therefore, you can start training your little hunter indoors. Take advantage of corners of the kitchen or areas under bar stools that might not be obvious to Fido. Start using the command "find it," to encourage your hunting dog to put that nose to work. When they become adept at finding the not-so-hidden treats, hide them under the edge of the couch. Eventually, you can train outdoors and possibly compete in local events.
Step
1
Train with treats
Begin nose work either indoors or outside in a distraction-free area. If indoors, place some treats in corners or other areas that aren't high visibility. (Do this when your furry companion is out of the room.) Ask your dog to come into the room and tell them to "find it."
Step
2
Step up the game
Once your hunting dog has gotten adept at finding smelly treats or kibble, you can begin replacing the treat with scented hand towels. Be sure to only use essential oils that are safe for dogs - peppermint and tea tree are very "smelly," but they are also toxic to dogs. Simply put a few drops of lavender or anise on the hand towel, allow Fido to smell the item, and hide it (out of their sight). Once you're ready, say "find it," and let your pup do what they were born to do.
Step
3
Enter competitions
Once you have Fido confident about their ability to seek out scented items, you might consider entering them in a nose work competition. Remember, the hunting dog is driven to find prey. Allowing them to participate in a nose work competition gives them the ability to get out and run and chase objects - in other words, nose work competitions give your hunting dog the ability to hunt without harming another animal.
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Flyball Retrieving

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Sunny Day
Cheap
Normal
45 min
Items needed
flyball machine
Activity description
Another activity that evokes the inner hunter of your dog is flyball retrieving. Although many dogs enter flyball as a competitor, you can still set up the hurdles at home and teach Fido to step on the box that releases a tennis ball to them. You'll likely need a partner for this activity. Some experts say that you can't do this sport alone, but you can make some adaptations so that your pal gets to run through the hurdles and make the tennis ball come out at the end of the course. Start by mastering the hurdles. Then you can work on teaching your hunting dog to release the ball.
Step
1
Set up the hurdles
After much research, you'll want to pick up a flyball machine and set it up properly. The "machine" is really a spring-loaded box which will release (sort of like pitching the ball upward) to the dog. This ball release is a reward to the dog in itself as it is a way to capture "prey."
Step
2
Partner involvement
When first training your pup to play fly ball, you might want a partner's help. The partner can help you maneuver your dog through the hurdles and give positive reinforcement for a job well done. You can take turns encouraging Fido to move from one hurdle to another.
Step
3
Run the course
Your hunting dog has a very high endurance level. Even though you might play flyball for an hour or more, your dog may not even seem winded to you. However, take frequent water breaks, especially if you are playing near the water and it seems your dog isn't tiring. They may be having to much fun to realize how thirsty they are!
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Therapy Dog

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Any Day
Moderate
Normal
60 min
Items needed
treats
leash and harness
certification
Activity description
You might be surprised to picture the hunting dog as a therapy dog, but, hunting dogs were not only trained to go after prey. They were also developed to watch the cues of their human companions. Hunting dogs are somewhat supernaturally attuned to their hunting partners; this trait makes them even better therapy dogs than one might expect. Hunting dogs are often highly adept at successful training. They innately want to please their human companions, so they will take to not only the training but also in bringing smiles to those who receive therapy. This moderately expensive activity will pay back in wonderful ways for years to come.
Step
1
Begin training
Depending upon your experience training animals, you will want to begin a training regimen for the prospective therapy dog. You can teach some useful commands - sit, stay, and come. Then, you can have your hunting dog assessed for suitability as a therapy dog. If deemed a good candidate, your pup will be trained in many areas, such as the ability to not be disturbed by loud noises or medical machines.
Step
2
Places to go
Therapy dogs are allowed in a number of places - assisted living homes, children's hospitals, and more. However, once the dog is trained, you'll want to find places that will become a regular place for you to work. The organization that you trained with will help you determine the best places for your hunting dog to put to use what they have learned.
Step
3
Train in between visits
Keeping in mind that mental activity is just as beneficial to the hunting dog as physical activity, plan to work on training every day that they aren't working as a therapy dog. Take about thirty minutes every day to work on typical commands, and insist that Fido sit and stay just as they would have to if they were out working. If you are able, take your pup to visit someone to sort of recreate a therapy situation. This will give Fido a little practice between actual therapy sessions.
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More Fun Ideas...

Fetch

Surprisingly enough, hunting dogs view fetch as an outlet for their desire to hunt. Get out in the backyard, go to the beach, or head over to the dog park and play fetch for as long as Fido can keep up.

Park Walk

The hunting dog is a high-endurance breed that loves to go outdoors, run unencumbered, and sniff all the wonderful smells available. Take your hunter to the park, and, if allowed, let them do just that. You might have to keep them on a leash rather than let them run free, but the two of you can still enjoy jogging in the park together.

Conclusion

The hunting dog is one that can be from several working breeds. Hounds, setters, retrievers, and some terriers can be considered hunting dogs. These dogs were developed to have strength and endurance on the hunting field. Today, the skills these dogs proudly possess aren't so much in demand. However, there are many events that you can participate in that allow your hunter to work off that energy and harness their natural instincts. From flyball to therapy work, the hunting dog still has a place in society.