Dogs and people seem made for each other. We are tall and see well, they are short and smell and hear well. There are few things more beautiful to a dog lover than the experience of a dog and a person working together to accomplish a task that neither could do as well alone. Training your dog to hunt close is wonderful not only for hunters instructing their dogs to search a specific nearby area for game, but also for anyone who wants to play fetch with their dog and use their superior vision to help their dog find the toy when the dog has lost track. It can even be useful in the home, when pointing out to a dog where a dropped treat or table scrap is located.
Hunting close is also a useful behavior because it reinforces cooperation between person and dog, resulting in a dog and a person that understand each other better. It forms a good basis for other activities that require working trust between dog and person.
Hunt close can mean two things to a dog. The first is that the dog should continuously search an area around a moving person for a designated quarry. The second is that the person should point out a specific area for the dog to search in, sometimes pointing directly at the quarry, which is visible to the person but not to the dog. Instilling motivation in the dog for learning the command to hunt close is easy. Since your dog is already motivated to find the quarry, teaching this command requires only that your dog learn that you are trying to help, and how. Most dogs understand human pointing intuitively, a result of our long heritage together. Therefore we can teach both meanings of 'hunt close' seamlessly together.
Teaching your dog to look to you for good things depends not only on your knowing what your dog already likes, but in being able to introduce new and exciting things. Think of what your dog would like to hunt for as you plan your training strategy.
Gather your dog’s favorite treats and toys, as well as some fun novel toys and other things to form the motivation and reward for your training. If you are training 'hunt close' as a hunting aide, it is wise to have toys scented with or made of fur or feathers from your desired quarry, in order to build desire in your dog for the game you will be hunting. If you intend to use the command largely for retrieval items, use those toys you use for retrieval.
If you will be working in open country and your dog does not yet have a reliable call back, use a well-fitted harness and long line to work with your dog. An electronic collar can also be useful in training to hunt close, as it can help get the attention of dogs prone to over-focus on their quarry. If working in open country with an electronic collar, a GPS collar is a good safety feature to locate your dog if she should go missing.