Jump to section
Morels have a distinct scent. They also have an extremely distinct appearance. With their cone shape and honeycomb appearance, morel mushrooms are strong smelling but tasty fungi. Though the morel mushroom season is short, about three months long, finding them when they appear can be rewarding and exciting. They can appear overnight, so you and your pup need to be ready for an exciting search. Training your dog to help you search for and find morel mushrooms can increase your productivity for such a short season. Teaching your dog to hunt for morel mushrooms specifically can not only help you to grow a business but can also keep your dog safe from eating mushrooms which are not edible. Dogs like to please their owners, and they enjoy the excitement of a chase and the reward of a hunt.
Because morel mushroom season is so short in most areas, you will need to take your dog hunting with you and train off-season to teach your dog to search, find, fetch, and retrieve. To do this offseason, you can use treats and toys for your dog to hunt. During morel season, take your dog to areas where you know morels grow. Introduce the mushroom and the strong scent to your dog with excitement and enthusiasm. Many dog owners who hunt morel mushrooms with their dogs will rub the scent of the mushroom onto their dog’s cheeks and on their own hands and arms to build the excitement with the dog. You can teach any dog to hunt morel mushrooms with you. However, you will need a dog who is focused, knows basic commands already, and has an interest in pleasing you and learning new things. Be patient, enjoy the hunt together, and be prepared to find the first few morel mushrooms on your own and reward your dog for the discovery.
Your dog will need to know basic training commands. If you plan to hunt in an area off leash, be sure your dog knows more advanced commands such as ‘come’ and ‘heel’. You will need an area where you are certain morel mushrooms will grow. If you cannot find morel mushrooms for training in the wild, purchase some so your dog can have the scent. Come prepared with lots of treats to reward your pup for a job well done.
The Hunt Together Method
Introduce your dog to morel mushrooms by taking him hunting with you.
Once you find a morel mushroom, show it to your dog letting him sniff. Rub the scent of the mushroom on his cheeks so he can continue to smell it.
Say a keyword, such as "morel" as he is discovering all he needs to know about the new object. Steer clear of calling a specific mushroom only by the term ‘mushroom’ if you want your dog to know the difference between different kinds of mushrooms. Remember, not all mushrooms are safe for your dog to eat.
Once your dog is done exploring the mushroom, give him a treat and excited praise.
Look again for more mushrooms verbally encouraging your dog to help. Once you have found one, leave it intact, and with enthusiasm, encourage your dog to locate it.
Repeat these steps until your pup begins to search on his own. He will want to please you, so if you are enthusiastic, he should become proactive and search on his own.
Reward your dog any time he finds a morel mushroom.
The Find Method
Show your dog a morel mushroom and let him sniff to learn the scent.
Once he starts to show interest in sniffing more, use the keyword, ‘find.’
Introduce morel spots
Take him to an area where morel mushrooms are likely to grow and let him explore. Have fun with him and show enthusiasm when he has his nose to the ground.
If your dog finds a morel mushroom, reward him with praise and treats. If you find a mushroom first, call your dog over and let him sniff. Be sure to show excitement either way.
With verbal praise and enthusiasm, encourage your dog to find the morel mushrooms on his own.
The Hide and Seek Method
Begin as soon as possible by introducing the scent of morel mushrooms. Rub morels onto your skin and your dog’s jowls.
Hide a morel mushroom or pieces of the mushroom in a sock and allow your dog to play with it.
As your dog bonds with the mushroom-filled sock, hide it and ask him to find it.
Reward your dog each time he is successful and finds his mushroom sock.
Take your dog on a morel mushroom search. Taking the mushroom sock with you might be helpful. It may also help to rub the morel mushroom scent on his cheeks.
Praise and treat
Each time he finds a morel mushroom, be sure to reward him. Show enthusiasm and excitement. Do not reward if he finds a different mushroom, as some could be dangerous for him, and he’ll need to know to steer clear of other mushrooms.
By Amy Caldwell
Published: 12/26/2017, edited: 01/08/2021