Although almost all dogs will happily chase rabbits of their own accord, training an older dog to hunt rabbits means training him to hunt them for you! Certain hunting or sport breeds are more likely to be physically able to hunt rabbits and respond to your directions while hunting, as they have been bred for that, so selecting an appropriate dog is important. Also, if you are using an older dog, you will need to make sure the dog is in good enough physical shape to hunt. As dogs age, they can develop orthopedic problems that can be aggravated by strenuous physical activity, especially that which occurs during hunting. Hunting rabbits means locating the scent, tracking the rabbit to locate it, and flushing the rabbit to allow their owner to get a good shot. This requires chasing the rabbit, which is extremely agile and quick and makes fast turns. A dog that can scent, track, and keep up with a rabbit's tight fast turns is required to successfully hunt rabbits. Not all older dogs have these abilities. A hunting or sport dog that is in good shape is required. In addition, the dog should be obedient and fit.
Prior to training to hunt with an older dog, try different commands and establish obedience. The dog may have been trained with a different command word originally, or may associate certain commands with negative experiences, so these should be avoided. Trial and error will be required to discover what works for an older dog you did not raise. You may need to start at the beginning, establishing simple obedience commands such as sit, stay, come. This will not only establish these behaviors, but will reinforce your role as trainer, and theirs as the learner. Exercise your dog during the off-season, to not only get them in shape, but build a working relationship with you. It can take up to a year to teach your dog to hunt rabbits successfully, work as a team, and respond to your commands. Hunting with your dog is not a simple process to teach and time and patience will be required. Remember, this is supposed to be fun for you and your dog!
Retrieve rabibt ands ducks
Hello Daniel, I would start with the basics of obedience like Come and Sit, and practice teaching pup to retrieve "dummy's" and "bumpers" first. Fetch: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-to-fetch/ Hold command: https://wagwalking.com/training/hold-an-object After pup can do that well, practice in water and areas similar to where you will be hunting. Next, practice with a frozen duck wing - allowing it to thaw a little first and discouraging chomping and destroying using a long training leash to enforce your commands so pup doesn't just run off with it or lie down and eat it. Next, practice with a frozen dead duck and rabbit. Practice until pup can reliably retrieve the duck from water too, and the rabbit from brush. Make sure you are desensitizing pup to the sound of gunshots along the way as well - starting from a distance with the help of a friend during practice, and gradually working up to you making the noise near pup, like hunting - you can use blanks or training guns specifically created for this purpose - like they use in hunting trials. Next, have a friend release live ducks from a cage and shoot them, and have pup retrieve those. Do the same with rabbits, having a second person hold pup's leash while you shoot if pup may break their sit the first time out of excitement. Practice with the staged scenario until pup's obedience and marking or where the animal fell, and retrieval of it, is reliable - then begin going on "training" hunts with pup -with the goal of training and not just hunting, until pup is reliable in the field and can be used as a regular hunting buddy. Check out training videos, resources and forums like those from Bill Hillman, SportsDog, Gun Dog Magazine, ect... Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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