How to Train a Doberman to Hunt Sheep

Hard
8-10 Months
Work

Introduction

Doberman are traditionally bred to be guard dogs for their intelligent, loyal nature, making them a perfect pooch for hunting sheep. They can make wonderful family dogs as well as working dogs due to their kind, loving nature, combined with their alert and observant character.  

From hunting in Alaska, Utah, Wyoming, or any other state in America with an abundance of nature, the extreme outdoor challenge of hunting sheep is for the adventurous. It will bring you a sense of achievement, mixed with the thrill of the hunt. The cold, harsh weather combined with the warmth and company of your Doberman will make the hunt an experience like no other. What better way to challenge yourself and build the relationship between you and your dog? 

Keep in mind that hunting sheep is not as common as hunting other types of game. Many sheep are domesticated, owned, and hunting them is very illegal. If you want to hunt sheep, you'll likely have to focus on hunting their wild counterparts that are free game. Double check the laws in your area to ensure that your hunting is not going to be a problem. 

Defining Tasks

Training your dog to hunt is important for obedience training, keeping them regularly exercised, and maintaining mental stimulation. Training a Doberman on one level can be a task easily met as their loyalty and intelligence make them willing to learn. Although, the task of hunting sheep can be a little difficult. 

You can start training your pup on simple obedience at around eight weeks old. From here, the perfect time to train them is around the age of one year old. Beyond this age, it is a little harder, as your pooch will have already formed a normal way of doing things and retraining them maybe a little difficult, but not impossible! From beginning to end, it will take around eight to ten months to train your pup to hunt sheep with constant work to keep their skills up. Your pooch should be able to be sufficiently trained in the art of hunting sheep by two years of age. 

Getting Started

To get started, you will need to source an area in which you are allowed to hunt sheep or their wild counterparts. This can range from a medium-sized ranch to a hundred acres of land. Your Doberman should be trained in the simple commands of ‘Sit’, Stay’, and ‘Come’. This will allow you to let your puppy off-leash with confidence that they will return back to you. 

Dobermans, like any dog, respond well to a lot of praise as well as a commanding attitude. Be prepared to bring a confident, playful, and full-of-praise approach with you when training.

The Pack Hunting Method

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Step
1
Introduce to pack
Get your dog familiar with a pack of three to four experienced sheep hunting dogs. Being around other dogs that are well practiced in hunting will help to develop your own dog's skills out in the field.
Step
2
Scent recognition
Introduce your pup to the scent of sheep by bringing them to a local farm in which they are allowed to sniff live sheep. Keep your dog on the leash and consult with the owner of the sheep to ensure the safety of all animals involved. You may also consider purchasing commercial scents of wild counterparts to sheep in order to acclimate to the scent.
Step
3
Train hunting
Let your dog off the leash with the pack and follow them like you would a normal sheep hunt. Allow your pup to get involved with the other experienced dogs. They should follow, copy, and learn from the other dogs' tracking skills. Be sure that you have a means to keep an eye on your dog's location.
Step
4
Practice
Bring your pooch out with the experienced dogs once a week for two months. This will reinforce his skills that he has learned from the other dogs.
Step
5
The real hunt
Take your pooch on a hunt by himself. He should be independent and know what to do by himself. However, you will want to keep an eye on your dog's location while also ensuring that he has good recall. Remember to never let your dog hunt domesticated or owned sheep.
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The Track Training Method

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Step
1
Treat tracking
Place some of your pup’s favourite treats in a room and allow him to find them with his nose and eye tracking skills. Start with hiding them in plain sight and gradually make it more difficult to locate them.
Step
2
Tie tracking
Tie the treats onto a piece of string and move it along the floor, allowing you pup to follow the scent and eventually redeem his prize. Start easy and then up the difficulty over time as your Doberman improves.
Step
3
Nose tracking
Repeat step number two, but hide the treats at the end so your pooch uses his nose tracking skills. As with any tracking exercise, start easy and get more complex over time. Reward your dog for improvement as necessary.
Step
4
Sheep skin tracking
Replace the treats with sheep or wild sheep counterpart skin. Start by hiding them for your Doberman to find and then use the tie tracking game to have him follow the skins. This will get him accustomed to the scents he'll need to follow later on.
Step
5
Outside tracking
Take this outside and repeat, but in a large area. Slowly increase this to a field and then to a larger area with acres to explore and practice in. Remember to hone your dog's skills in the same manner as indoors.
Step
6
The hunt and tracking
Allow your dog to hunt in real life. Let him off the leash in an area where sheep or wild sheep counterparts are known to roam and slowly increase this to areas in which you wish to hunt. Remember to never let your dog hunt domesticated sheep or sheep that belong to a farm.
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The Freedom Method

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Step
1
Scent training
Teach your pooch the scent of a sheep by allowing it to play and sniff sheepskin or the skin of wild sheep counterparts. This can include animals like wild goats or rams. Remember to check your local laws and regulations to ensure the legality of your hunting.
Step
2
Field introduction
Introduce your pooch to a large area of land where wild sheep or other similar animals are known to roam. Keep him on a long leash if you are not in a fenced area in order to maintain safety.
Step
3
Freedom
Lay sheepskin or the skin of a wild sheep counterpart in a fenced in field and let your pup off-leash. Once your pup has found the sheepskin, give him lots of praise and a treat. Make this more difficult over time.
Step
4
Recall
Teach your pooch to come to you once he has found the sheepskin and lead you to the trail. You'll want to work on commands such as 'Fetch' and 'Drop It' to get your Doberman to release the skin when he returns.
Step
5
Moving on up
Repeat this on an increasingly bigger scale, moving from a fenced in field to wilder, more open terrain. If necessary, keep your dog on a long leash until his recall is reliable enough to work off-leash.
Step
6
Live hunt
Encourage your pup to find wild sheep or wild sheep counterparts such as rams or goats and lead you to them once he has found them. Eventually, you can teach your pup to do this while keeping quiet and to not disturb the animal before the kill. Remember to check the legality of hunting in your area and never let your dog hunt sheep that is domesticated or owned.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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