How to Train Your Dog to Hunt Fox

Hard
6-8 Months
Work

Introduction

There has been much controversy in recent years over traditional fox hunting, especially in the United Kingdom, where fox hunting with hounds and horses has been a tradition for centuries. As a result, foxhunting with live foxes and dogs has become illegal in Britain and parts of Europe, though it is legal in Canada and the U.S. The controversy stems from the practice of using a pack of hounds to run a fox, followed by the pack of dogs killing the fox. As a result, some fox hunters have switched to using a drag to create a fox scent trail for dogs to follow. This provides the dogs with a hunting outlet and exercise, allowing human counterparts on foot or horse, to participate without a live fox being run and killed. However, North America has a large population of foxes, and when fox and human habitats overlap, problems can arise.  

Foxes present a problem by preying on pets and small livestock, especially poultry, and hunting fox to control the population and protect domesticated animals is necessary in many areas. Dogs may be used as a tool to locate, track, and hunt fox where and when necessary to control wild fox populations.

Defining Tasks

Fox hunting with a pack of dogs requires great stamina, agility, and courage on the part of the dogs. There is a risk of dogs being injured when a fox turns to defend itself, so a pack of experienced foxhunting dogs that can work together is necessary. Certain breeds of dog have been developed for generations to excel at this type of work including, miniature, smooth, wirehaired, American, and English foxhounds and Harriers. Dogs used for hunting foxes are started early as puppies, learning to scent fox and becoming used to the smell of foxes, and the sights, and sounds of the hunt. However, only more mature dogs should be used in an actual hunt on live fox due to the danger from strenuous physical exertion and the danger of confronting a cornered wild animal.

Getting Started

Dogs being used to hunt fox will need to learn to scent fox using commercially available fox scent, or fox hides provided to the dog for this purpose. Dogs being used for foxhunting must be in excellent physical condition, as hunting fox with dogs involves running over long distances and over rough terrain, and a dog that is not conditioned for such activity will experience muscle strain and injury as well as possible joint and other injuries. Dogs used for hunting fox and other game are often fitted with tracking collars to allow handlers to locate the dogs if they become separated from handlers or the pack. Dogs should have strong off-leash recall and a good grasp of off-leash commands prior to hunting fox in the field.

The Introducing Young Method

Effective
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Step
1
Obedience and games
Teach your dog basic obedience commands and off-leash recall. Play fetch with a toy; provide a reward for returning and releasing the toy to you.
Step
2
Introduce fox pelt
Provide a fox pelt to the dog to play with, to get them used to the scent of the fox. Start playing fetch with the fox pelt.
Step
3
Hide pelt
Hide the fox pelt and let your puppy find it. Keep it simple at first, let the young dog see you hide the pelt.
Step
4
Increase difficulty
Gradually make hiding places more complex, so your dog has to rely on scent to locate the fox pelt. Let your young dog find the pelt and bring it to you for a reward.
Step
5
Start tracking foxes
Start taking your dog out to locate fox scent in the wild and flush and chase foxes. Foxes will escape a young dog on its own, but this gets your dog excited about locating and chasing foxes. Start running your dog with more experienced packs of fox hunting dogs to complete training.
Recommend training method?

The Tracking Scent Trails Method

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Step
1
Create scent trail
Purchase high quality fox scent and apply the scent to a drag cloth or a hide. Wear gloves and rubber boots to minimize human scent on the trail. Create a trail for your dog to follow.
Step
2
Follow trail
Introduce your dog to the scent trail. Direct and call your dog back to the scent trail as required. Encourage the dog to follow the scent trail to its conclusion, where a pelt or toy with scent is present.
Step
3
Reward
When your dog follows the scent trail to its conclusion, provide a reward such as play time with a toy covered in fox scent, or high value treats such as chicken or hot dogs.
Step
4
Practice
Repeat frequently over weeks and months. Practice making trials more complex. Encourage the dog to take more of the lead.
Step
5
Introduce pack work
Introduce following the scent trail with other dogs.
Recommend training method?

The Experienced Team Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Introduce to pack
Put an inexperienced dog with a team of more experienced dogs. Allow dogs to interact and socialize prior to the hunt.
Step
2
Use tracing devices
Ensure inexperienced dogs have tracking devices in case they become separated from the group. Take your team out and locate a created fox trail.
Step
3
Set on trail
Allow the inexperienced dog to follow the created trail, and follow it with the pack.
Step
4
Command and direct
Provide commands to stay on the trail or recall the pack so the inexperienced dog is exposed to commands and responds with the rest of the pack.
Step
5
Introduce live hunts
Allow your dog to experience a live wild fox hunt. After several experiences your dog will learn to hunt and respond with the experienced dogs.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Patrys
Belgian Malinois
4 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Patrys
Belgian Malinois
4 Years

She is a rehomed, but trained protection dog that doesn't leave my side, how can I get her to start scent tracking in order to hunt jackals?

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
126 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Here is some basic information and a good starting place. For more advanced training, you will want to contact a local trainer and work directly with him or her. Start Early in the Morning To teach scenting a track, you need some treats and a grassy area, such as a baseball field or park. Although hot dogs are not the most nutritious food, I find they work best, and you won’t over stuff your dog’s belly. Begin early; many people start by 6 a.m. before anyone has walked on the grass. Create a Treat Track Have your dog sit or lie down and stay. Take a couple of inch-long pieces of hot dog and use your shoe to mash them into the grass. Make sure to crush the grass under the hot dogs, which will release a grass scent. Then, with the hot dog residue on the bottom of your shoe, walk a straight line away from your dog. Every six or ten feet, drop a piece of hot dog. Stop after about 20 feet and drop one of your gloves or one of your dog’s toys; your dog needs to find something at the end of the track. Drop another piece of hot dog on top of the item. Command Your Dog to Find the Treats Go back to your dog and release him from his stay, encouraging him to smell the ground where the hot dogs were. Tell your dog “Find it!” and let him sniff. If he begins to follow the track, praise him quietly by saying, “Good dog!” and let him lead the way. Don’t be too enthusiastic or you may distract the dog from his sniffing. Also, don’t try to lead him; let your dog figure it out. At this point, your dog is following several scents: the trail of hot dogs, which helps motivate him, the crushed grass where you mashed the hot dogs and the crushed grass where you later stepped. Your dog is also following your individual scent, which he knows well because he smells your scent every day. But now your dog is learning to combine the scents, to follow them and to find the item at the end of the track. Start Increasing the Length of the Track When your dog successfully completes this trick, make another one by taking 10 steps to the side. If your dog is excited and having fun, you can do three or four short tracks per training session. As your dog improves over several sessions, make the track longer, add curves and corners, and drop several items along the way, but put the hot dog only on the one you want him to find. When making tracks longer or adding curves, use small pegs, stakes or flags to mark the track so you can tell if your dog is off track. Air scenting requires your dog to find someone by sniffing the scents wafting through the air instead of following a track. Most search-and-rescue dogs have both skills; they can follow a track, but if people walking over the track spoil it, they can also use their air-scenting skills. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Thank you for writing in.

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