How to Train Your Beagle Dog to Duck Hunt

Hard
2-6 Months
Work

Introduction

Your Beagle dog is everything you hoped he would be. He’s determined, intelligent and even-tempered. Not to mention, he has a fantastic sense of smell. This all makes him the ideal hunting companion. When it comes to deciding on a dog to hunt duck, the Beagle is up there with the top contenders. You haven’t had him long, but he’s got the energy and eagerness to learn, that could make him a formidable hunter. 

Training a Beagle dog to hunt duck is a fantastic way of bonding with your dog. It’s also an ideal way to exercise him and keep him mentally stimulated. Plus, it comes with the added bonus that it may significantly bolster your hunting performance. If he listens and respects you, you may just have just formed an effective and harmonious hunting duo.

Defining Tasks

Training any dog to hunt duck can be challenging. Fortunately, Beagles are fast learners and eager to please. However, you will need to use a range of obedience commands and train regularly. You will also need to get him familiar with his future prey. That means he needs to know what they look like and smell like. Throughout training, you will need to use an effective incentive to keep him on task. Because of their powerful nose, a particularly smelly food, such as cheese, is often a sensible choice.

If he’s a puppy, he should be receptive and up for the challenge. You could see results in just a couple of months. If he’s older and not quite the quick learner he once was, then you need to be prepared to invest up to six months into training. Succeed though, and you may find coming home empty handed is a thing of the past.

Getting Started

Before you start training you’ll need to gather a few things. You will need duck decoys and scent spray. Both can be bought both online and from local hunting stores.

You will also need a serious amount of treats, or his favorite food broken into small pieces. Try and find 15 minutes every other day that you can commit to training. You will also need some space in your yard or local field to train.

Once you have the above, just bring patience and an optimistic attitude, then you will be ready to get to work!

The Start Early Method

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Step
1
Day one
Training starts from the day you bring him home. Those early days are when Beagles are most responsive to training. That means start teaching him ‘sit’, ‘down’, ‘wait’, and any other obedience commands you may need.
Step
2
Encouragement
Make sure you encourage any promising signs from an early age. That means rewarding him with treats for chasing and sniffing out ducks when you are on walks. This will all help him develop into a naturally duck-fascinated dog.
Step
3
Hunting experience
You need to get him used to the sounds and sights he can expect to hear and see when he’s hunting. You don’t want him bolting the minute he hears a gun shot. That also means getting him used to stealthily walking through fields.
Step
4
Tug of war
Tug of war with duck decoys is an effective way to get him excited and familiar with his future prey. So, spend a few minutes each day playing tug of war. You can give him verbal praise and tasty treats throughout.
Step
5
Never punish him
When you do start taking him out hunting, make sure you never punish him when he fails. This is particularly important at the beginning. Punishment will only deter him, or even worse, make him aggressive towards humans. Positive reinforcement is the way forward.
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The Lead By Example Method

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Decoy friendly
Spend a few minutes each day playing around with a duck decoy. Play tug of war, fetch and really get him used to chasing after it and bringing it back to you. These are skills he will use later on.
Step
2
Regular walks
Make sure you take him out on regular walks around his prey. You want him to get used to seeing, smelling and hearing ducks. This will all help him get familiar with his hunting ground.
Step
3
Get animated
Whenever you see a duck, you need to point and talk in a high pitched voice. You may look like a crazy person, but Beagles look to their owners for guidance and mirror their behavior and feelings. So, if you always get worked up when you see one, so will he.
Step
4
Give chase
Once you’ve drawn his attention to a duck, you then need to chase after it, waving your arms around and shouting. You aren’t trying to catch it, you’re simply showing him what to do. Do this every time and he will quickly follow suit.
Step
5
Reward
Whenever he does give chase and flush out a duck, make sure you give him a tasty reward. The better the reward, the more eager he will be to do it again. So, don’t just give him treats, give him attention and verbal praise too.
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The Scent Method

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Step
1
Decoy play
Spray a duck decoy with duck scent and then play around with it in your yard. You can play tug of war and fetch. Both will get him worked up and used to chasing and retrieving his future prey. This method works because it appeals to your Beagle’s strong sense of smell.
Step
2
Scent trail
After a few days, when he gets worked up by the mere sight of the decoy, head out into the yard. Use scent spray to create a trail around your yard, leading to a hidden decoy at the end.
Step
3
Leash
Secure him to a leash and then take him to the beginning of the trail. Encourage him to follow the trail by pointing and talking in a high-pitched voice. This will help make it feel like a big game to him. Guide him around until he finds the decoy at the end.
Step
4
Reward
When he does sniff out the duck decoy, give him a mouth watering treat. Make sure he gets the reward within a few seconds of finding the decoy, otherwise he may not associate the action with the reward.
Step
5
Variation
Create new scent trails in the yard and in local fields over the next few weeks. You can make them harder and longer. Once he gets the hang of it, you can let him off the leash, he will know what to do. Before you know it, he will actively seek out and hunt duck whenever you head out. Just make sure you always have a tasty reward waiting for him when he catches one.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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