How to Train Your Dog to Catch Moles

Medium
1-3 Weeks
Work

Introduction

You head downstairs in the morning and look out into your yard while the coffee brews, but instead of green you see an array of mole hills. These pesky creatures have wreaked havoc on your yard and you’re nearing your wits’ end. Where you used to have a well looked after and regularly mowed lawn, you have a yard that looks like it’s been in the middle of world war three.You can’t put poisonous chemicals out because you have pets and young children. Thankfully, dogs can be trained to be effective mole catchers and killers.

This training can save your countless hours of work getting the yard looking picturesque for summer. It’s also a cost-effective way to deal with your mole problem. It even comes with the added bonus of strengthening the bond between dog and owner!

Defining Tasks

Most people are surprised to learn that training your dog to catch moles is actually relatively straightforward. Training mainly entails bringing out the hunter instinct in your dog and honing his skills. You need to familiarize him with the scent and sight of moles and turn catching them into a game. If he’s a puppy he’ll be full of energy and confidence and should respond to training in just a week or two. If he’s getting on a bit and prefers lounging around in doorways instead of hunting then you may need to invest several weeks into training.

However long it takes, it will be a small price to pay for a mole-free yard again. It will save you serious frustration and may also help keep other rodents at bay. Not to mention, completing this sort of training will only make it easier to teach other commands.

Getting Started

Most people are surprised to learn that training your dog to catch moles is actually relatively straightforward. Training mainly entails bringing out the hunter instinct in your dog and honing his skills. You need to familiarize him with the scent and sight of moles and turn catching them into a game. If he’s a puppy he’ll be full of energy and confidence and should respond to training in just a week or two. If he’s getting on a bit and prefers lounging around in doorways instead of hunting then you may need to invest several weeks into training.

However long it takes, it will be a small price to pay for a mole-free yard again. It will save you serious frustration and may also help keep other rodents at bay. Not to mention, completing this sort of training will only make it easier to teach other commands.


The Familiarization Method

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Step
1
Mole play
Start playing tug of war with your mole decoy/toy each day. Spend 10-15 minutes playing around and encouraging him to get his teeth into the toy. You can even use the occasional treat to emphasize this is the behavior you want to see.
Step
2
Take a whiff
Start walking him around the yard and any mole hills and tracks. It is important he becomes familiar with the smell, so really encourage him to sniff around their tracks. Walking him around the yard will reinforce to him where the boundaries are and show him where the territory is that he needs to protect.
Step
3
Scent the toy
Spray the mole scent on the toy and continue to play with it. You need to get him used to the sight and smell of moles so his natural reaction will be to chase one if he sees one. You can use verbal praise and treats to reinforce signs of aggression towards the toy.
Step
4
The real deal
Keep an eye out for moles and if you see one and run towards them in the yard. Dogs often mirror their owners’ feelings and actions, so this is a case of lead by example. Really encourage him to run alongside you when you see any movement out there. He will start naturally chasing moles of his own accord as the steps above will create a habit.
Step
5
Celebrate!
Reward him with treats and verbal praise whenever he catches a mole. Now that he will naturally seek them out, you just need to reinforce how happy you are with him when he catches one. The greater the reward and praise the more keen he will be to catch one again.
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The Progressive Method

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Step
1
Start with a rat
Place a live rat in a wired cage and hide it out in the yard. Before he tackles moles you want to build up his interest with another pesky creature. You can use a live rat trap to catch a rat or you can purchase one.
Step
2
Meet and greet
Spend 10 minutes a day walking him around the rat. As you do this, reward any signs of aggression and interest with treats and verbal praise. You really want to bring out your dog’s predator instinct. As he sees the rat each day he will also get increasingly confident and comfortable around small animals.
Step
3
Scent trail
Create scent tracks to the cage with rat droppings. You need to ensure he will not only catch a rat/mole, but that he will also be able to sniff them out. Walk him along the scent trail each day and encourage him with praise and treats.
Step
4
Release
When you are confident he will attack the rat, release it in the yard where your dog will be able to quickly catch him. Then let him play with the dead rat. This experience will be so stimulating he will look to repeat it again.
Step
5
Replace with mole
Now repeat that entire process but with a live mole. Take him to a trapped mole each day to encourage the same aggression. Follow scent trails of moles together and give the impression you are hunting as a team. Then when he shows the same signs of aggression that he did with the rat, release the mole and let him catch it. You will now have a dog who actively seeks out and hunts moles. Just be sure to reward him with treats and praise each time he catches one!
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The Create a Territory Method

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Step
1
Make it his turf
Start encouraging him to spend more time outside in the mole infested area. Start spending 10-15 minutes a day playing with him in the yard. You can take toys out there and have other family members play with him. It is important the area starts to feel like his territory then he will naturally want to protect it.
Step
2
Set the perimeter
Walk him around the perimeter of the area that needs protecting twice each day. This will reinforce where his territory starts and ends. He will quickly learn where he is supposed to guard.
Step
3
Hunt together
This may sound like a bizarre concept but he will respond to training swiftly if the thinks you are hunting as a team, with a pack mentality. That means encouraging him to sniff out mole trails and investigating mole hills. You can even use mole scent spray to create tracks and places to hunt.
Step
4
Encourage
Constantly reward him with praise whenever he takes any interest in mole hills and traces. You need to reinforce to him this is the behavior you want to see. If he knows he will get a reward he will actively seek out moles.
Step
5
Keep it positive
Never punish him if you see new mole hills have appeared that he didn’t prevent. Training through fear only leaves you with a terrified dog who is too scared to try and please you. Negative reinforcement is simply not as effective as positive. So consistently encourage mole interest and by following the steps above in a matter of weeks he will be chasing moles all on his own.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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