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Charlie isn’t exactly on the large, ferocious side. I mean, he's a Dachshund, so he's not even very far off the ground. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean he lacks the killer instinct. You also know he definitely isn't short of energy. You also happen to have a pest problem in the yard. A problem that you would like to address. You have thought about getting professionals in, but that’s expensive and you may already have the right tools at your disposal.
Training your Dachshund to hunt instead could well fix the problem. It also comes with several other benefits too. Firstly, you would have a fantastic way to channel their energy into something productive. This type of obedience training would also give you a high level of control. Control that you could use to teach your Dachshund any number of commands. Not to mention, you’d increase the chances of catching whatever prey it is you are after.
Training a Dachshund to hunt isn’t going to be easy. This type of training can take many months and considerable patience. Training will consist of several parts. You will need to get the dog familiar with their future prey. You will also need to encourage and develop the right behaviors. It’s also important to socialize them with other people and animals, so they can distinguish between friend and enemy.
If your Dachshund is just a puppy then they should be at their most receptive. Combine that with endless energy and you could see results in just a month or so. However, if your Dachshund is older, stubborn and more interested in lounging around, then you may need several months. But if you can get training right, you’ll have a fantastic way to improve your hunting performance, while spending quality time with your favorite canine companion.
Before you get to work, you will need to go out and make sure you have all the bits you need. Some decoy toys and scent spray of the prey will be needed. You will also require a decent supply of treats or the dog's favorite food broken into small pieces.
A toy and a clicker may also be needed for one of the methods. You’ll need just 15 minutes or so each day to commit to training.
Once you have all that, just bring patience and enthusiasm, then work can begin!
The Early Start Method
The first step to take is to enroll your dog in group obedience classes. Firstly, these will teach them many of the basic commands you will need when out hunting, such as ‘down’ and ‘wait’. Secondly, it will help socialize them with other pets and people. This is important as it will ensure their aggression is directed only towards prey.
Try and start training your Dachshund from an early age as possible. The younger they are, the more receptive they will be and the sooner you will see results. Also, try to train consistently, this will also help them get to grips with training swiftly.
Hand over tasty treats or a toy whenever you see the right sorts of behavior. That means praise whenever they chase, bark or show aggression towards their future prey. You want them associating that kind of behavior with positive consequences.
Play tug of war and fetch with the pup. Both games will naturally develop some of the behaviors they will need later on when they are hunting. Keep it up-beat and lighthearted, the dog will learn best when they think they are playing a game.
Punishment is not an effective means of training your Dachshund. This may only lead to aggression towards other pets and people, which can bring with it a whole host of problems. Instead, use positive reinforcements.
The Lead the Way Method
Take the dog out regularly to look for their prey. Then whenever you find it, stand still, point, whisper and try to draw the dog's attention to it. It may take a little while to start with, but they will eventually follow your lead.
Once you have their attention, charge towards the prey, with your arms outstretched, shouting as you go. Yes, you may look a little silly the first few times. However, Dachshunds learn by copying their owners' behavior. So if they see you always get worked up, they will soon follow suit.
Make sure your dog gets a reward whenever they give chase. To start with, you can also reward them with a click and then a toy or treat even if they don’t catch anything. If not, they may soon give up trying.
You need to make sure your Dachshund is used to all the sights and sounds they are going to experience when they are out hunting. You don’t want them bolting as soon as they hear a gun shot for the first time.
Now all you need to do is repeat the above steps regularly. Several times a week would be ideal. It won’t take the dog long to get into the habit of chasing without your encouragement. At that point you can kick back and relax, while just handing out rewards when they return.
The Scent Trail Method
Spend several minutes a couple of times a day playing around with a decoy with scent spray on it. You want to get the dog used to the sight and smell of their future prey. Play tug of war and fetch. Both games will encourage the types of behavior you want to see.
Head out into your yard and set up a scent trail from the back door, leading around the yard, to the hidden decoy at the end. Wipe it along the ground to make it easy for the dog to follow the scent.
Now secure your Dachshund to a leash and take them to the start line. Point at the trail, whisper and encourage them to follow it. They probably will naturally. However, if they get distracted, guide them back onto the trail.
Make sure your dog gets to the end of the trail every time and then gets a reward. It’s important they know there is always something waiting for them so they don’t give up. If you use a clicker, you can click when they find the decoy before handing over a tasty reward or toy.
Make it harder
Make a new scent trail every few days. However, make the trail more spread out each time and harder to follow. Also, start making them in local parks or fields. Do this until your dog starts actively sniffing out the prey on their own.
By James Barra
Published: 04/03/2018, edited: 01/08/2021