You’re out enjoying the great outdoors on the weekend, rifle in tow and dog bounding through the bushes. You hear a rustle to the left and quickly crouch down and take aim, but you can’t quite get a visual. What you need is your canine companion to hunt the small game for you. Alternatively, if you do take a shot from a distance, you want him to leap into action to help with the hunt and retrieve the animal. For now, he’s a ball of energy but without any discipline or direction. That will soon change.
Training him to hunt small game is useful in more ways than one. Not only will it increase the number of catches you get, but it will also instill discipline in him. That discipline can be used to teach him a range of other commands.
Training your dog to hunt small game isn’t all plain sailing. It requires rigorous training as well as a good degree of patience on your part. You’ll need to start young, drilling obedience commands into him and familiarizing him with future prey. If you’re anticipating a week or two of training, don’t expect long-lasting results. If he’s a puppy, he should be a fast learner and you may see results in just a month or two. If he’s older you may have your work cut out for you. He’ll probably have bad habits that need stamping out first. You could need up to 6 months before training proves successful.
Succeeding with this training will be more than worth it when you return after successful hunting trips. It will also be a fantastic way to bond with your favorite canine friend. Not to mention it’s a fantastic way to channel his energy into something productive.
Before you kick off your training regime you’ll need a few things. Decoys and scent spray will be needed to familiarize him with small game. You’ll also need his favorite food or treats to incentivize him throughout training.
You’ll need to set aside 20 minutes every other day for training. Also, find a quiet space free from distractions during training. A large yard and local fields will do the job just fine.
Once you’ve got all of those things, just rustle up all the patience you can find and then you can get to work.
What do you suggest for recall when the dog has the scent or sight of the small game?
Hello Sam, I would recommend first teaching your puppy the initial "Come" or "Here" command without the distraction of the scent. "Here" is the command word traditionally used in hunting. You can teach him the initial command using any of the methods in the article that I am linking bellow. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall After he knows what the "Here" or "Come" command means, then use the "Reel In" method found in that same article. For your long leash, I would suggest a fifty foot check cord, which is a long leash without a handle on the end that is designed to move easily through the grass and brush without getting snagged on debris. If you are practicing your training in a safely enclosed area, then you can let the long leash drag behind your puppy during the training and then step on it and reel him in as needed when he does not come in all the way. Once he comes to you, then have him sit, and if he came willingly, then immediately release him with a release word and allow him to go back to the scent or sight of the small game whenever you can during training. The idea is for him to learn that the only way to get to what he wants is to come to you first, so that the very thing that is distracting him becomes his motivation to come. This is called the Premack Principle. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?