How to Train Your Dog to Hunt Grouse

Hard
6-12 Months
Work

Introduction

If you take the time to train your dog to hunt grouse, the two of you are in for some seriously fun times out in the great outdoors. Of course, you can always try to go it alone and hoping that your movements in the brush end up flushing out few grouse. Or you can train your dog to hunt grouse and flush them out for you, which not only saves you time and effort but also significantly increases your odds of coming home with your bag limit.

Before you go to the effort to train your dog to hunt grouse, you do need to take a look at your state and local laws to make sure hunting with dogs is legal. If they are not, you could end up with a hefty fine or worse, plus it is a black eye for the rest of the hunters in your area. 

Defining Tasks

Grouse are quite small in size and extremely agile. They can go from a standstill to incredibly high speeds almost instantaneously. This makes hunting by yourself very challenging. Training your dog to help you with the hunt is more than worth the time and effort. The good thing about this is that not only will having a well-trained hunting companion make it easier for you to have a successful hunting trip, it also gives your dog plenty of good healthy exercise.

Hunting grouse together is also a great way for the two of you to spend time together bonding and enjoy plenty of good fresh air. Just remember, this is not going to happen overnight, it can take months for your dog to master the basics of hunting and years to perfect the subtleties of being a master hunter. 

Getting Started

Long before you start working on training your dog to hunt grouse, he needs to have already learned the four basic commands, including 'sit', 'stay', 'come', and 'down'. You should have also put your pup through gun training so that he doesn't spook when you pull the trigger. 

To complete this training, you need a few basic supplies:

  • Doggy treats: You need these to reward your pup when he gets it right.
  • Leash: You may want to use this, but your pup should be trained to not run off by now.
  • Hunting vest: This is for your pup's safety. It also makes it easier for you to spot him and lets him know that putting the vest on means it's time to go hunting.

And, a few items specific to the task:

  • Training decoys 
  • Training dummy
  • Grouse scent
  • Large field

Remember, this training can take months or longer to complete, so be sure to have patience and plenty of time. You should continue working with your pup all year long so that he is ready to go when hunting season comes around. 

The Smell It First Method

Effective
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Step
1
Freshly killed grouse
This may be the hardest part of the whole training program. You need a freshly killed bird that can be cut up in pieces. Give your pup a leg or wing to chew on, sniff at, and when he finally picks it up in his mouth, praise him and give him a treat. This gets him used to the smell of his quarry.
Step
2
In the house
Next, try hiding the piece in the house and letting your pup sniff it out. Each time he finds his quarry, give him a treat. Now that he knows how to find the grouse, add in a command word such as "find it" as you release him. This matches the command with the action, something you will need later in training and out in the field.
Step
3
Taking it to the streets (or field, in this case)
Using the carcass of the fresh grouse tied to a long string, go out by yourself and mark a few trails in the field. Since grouse are so good at hiding, place a scented decoy at the end of each trail, but hide them carefully.
Step
4
On the trail again
Take your dog out to the field and release him using your 'find it' command. This should encourage your pup to follow his training and seek out the trail you have created, following it to the end where he will be rewarded with a treat.
Step
5
No trails just in hiding
Now that he knows how to find grouse by following a trail, on to the final test. Simply place the decoys in hiding spots in the field. Give your dog the "find it" command and let him head out. Each time he finds a decoy' be sure to reward and praise him. The rest is all about practice, practice, practice.
Recommend training method?

The Choose the Right Dog Method

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Step
1
Find the right dog
While you can train most dogs to hunt, some, like pointer breeds, are better at this type of hunting than others.
Step
2
Make time for training
Before starting your pup's training, you need to make sure you set aside about 20 minutes a day for months just for this purpose. It's okay if you miss a day here and there, but keep it to a minimum. Training time should be fun for both of you, not a hassle.
Step
3
Meet the quarry
Use part of a grouse such as a wing, leg, or even an entire carcass. If you can't find any of these, you can buy bottled scent at your local hunting goods store, coat a decoy and let your dog get used to the scent. The easiest way to do this is to let him play with the decoy for a few minutes each day.
Step
4
Get him talking
Using the decoy, wave it around in a fun manner. This should get your dog excited to the point at which he starts barking. Reward him for doing so. Repeat this until he starts to bark each time he sees the decoy. This is a skill he will use out in the field to help flush out the grouse that are hiding there.
Step
5
Sitting in silence
Teach your pup to lay down beside you in silence. Do this by having him lay down beside you for a few seconds and giving him a treat when does so without trying to move. Keep extending the time until he can do this for 20 minutes or so at a time. This will come in handy out in the field.
Step
6
Now enjoy the hunt
Now your dog knows how to seek out his quarry and how to bark at them to let you know where the grouse are and to flush them out for you. Now get out there and enjoy the hunt.
Recommend training method?

The Jump Right In Method

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Step
1
Enjoy the great outdoors
Go for a nice long walk out in the woods and fields with your pup from the moment he is old enough to do so. Enjoy the walk, knowing that you are helping him to burn off any excess energy. Find a shady spot to relax in, sit down and have your pup lay quietly beside you. He will need this skill out on the hunt.
Step
2
Try distracting him
Now that you have him resting quietly beside you, try distracting his attention by tossing rocks out in the brush, or making turkey call noises, anything that might ordinarily distract him. Each time he remains in place, be sure to praise him and give him treats.
Step
3
Add in the scent
Using a grouse carcass, allow your dog to get the scent of his quarry. Place the carcass back in a cooler so that he can no longer smell it.
Step
4
Turn him loose
Turn your pup loose and tell him to 'find it', allowing him to wander around the hunting grounds in search of a flock. If there are any there, he should easily pick them up by their scent. Each time he comes across a flock and flushed them out, be sure to praise him and give him treats.
Step
5
The rest is up to you
The rest is all about repeating the training over and over again. The only thing left is to start shooting at the birds he flushes out and look forward to grouse for dinner.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

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