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Shed hunting with your German Shepherd is a fun activity to do in the spring and summer and can be quite prosperous, depending on the price of antlers each year. Though many people think of shed hunting dogs as bird dogs, Ggerman Shepherds are actually very well suited for this job because they have great stamina and are good at tracking. With some patience and practice, your buddy will be at home cruising over public lands and searching for elk or deer sheds.
Hunting sheds in the spring is an incredible pastime that will get you out enjoying the outdoors with your four-legged friend and will give those long walks a fun purpose. It might take some time, but with the right training routine, your Shepherd will happily bring you enough sheds to decorate your home, make handmade crafts, or sell for a little extra spending money.
While German Shepherds might not be the first breed you think of as a shed hunting dog, they are exceptionally well-suited for this kind of work. These kinds of dogs need jobs to keep themselves out of trouble, so teaching your Shepherd to find sheds is just the ticket.
There are a few key points to pay attention to when you begin training that will help move things along and keep you from running into roadblocks or getting frustrated. Always be firm, but never yell or show aggression. Keep the training sessions short and always end on a positive note so he doesn't get discouraged. Remember to make the training fun. Shed hunting is going to be a new hobby for the both of you, so it should be fun from the very start. Have patience and take your time progressing through the steps. Soon you'll have so many antler sheds you won't know what to with them all.
Training your German Shepherd to find antler sheds requires a little more than just time and patience. It's a targeted skill so you'll need some specialty items to get started.
- An old antler, on the small side
- Rack Wax
- A long leash
- A swath of public land or ranch land
Remember to only give your dog the antler during training, and make it fun. Read through the three methods below for training your dog to find sheds and pick the best one for you. With time and consistency, you'll soon be wandering the landscapes in spring and finding lots of sheds.
The Hide and Seek Method
Treat the antler
Choose an old smaller antler and treat it with some Rack Wax to mimic the musky smell of a deer.
Play in the house
Start by playing with the antler in the house. Toss it down the hallway and ask your dog to bring it back.
Play hide and seek
When your dog can't see the antler, hide it around the room. Bring him in and ask him to find it.
Take it outside
When he's good at finding the antler, start to take it outside and hide it. Start with easy places, maybe even leaving it out in the open the first few times. Increase the difficulty as he gets better at finding it.
Go for a walk
When he's ready, go for a walk on public lands or around a ranch you have access to and see what he finds. Make sure to praise him each time he finds an antler.
The Antler Toss Method
Prepare the antler
Rub a dab of Rack Wax on the antler so it smells like a freshly dropped antler he would find outside while shed hunting.
Use a long leash
You want to prevent your dog from running off to chew the antler and encourage him to bring it to you, so make sure you use a long leash so he can't run away.
Toss the antler
Start by tossing the antler in the yard for your dog to chase. When he gets it and brings it back, give him lots of praise or treats and toss it again.
Hide the antler
Once he's excited to bring you the antler, start to hide it while he isn't looking. Ask him to find it and bring it to you.
Toss the antler again
As a reward, toss the antler for him to chase to continue the game.
Test it out
When he's mastered finding the antler in the front yard, test him out on public lands. When he finds his first antler, give him lots of praise and even give it a toss as a reward.
The Train in the Field Method
Find public land
Find a swatch of public land that you have seen deer or elk frequenting.
Find an antler yourself
As you walk, keep an eye out for antlers. When you spot one, call your dog over.
Target the antler
Point to the antler and encourage your dog to pick it up and bring it to you. Give him lots of praise.
Each time you find an antler, show your dog and get him excited. Ask him to bring it to you and praise him.
Let him find the antlers
After a while, he should be searching out and bringing you antlers. Each time he does, give him plenty of treats and praise.
By Katie Smith
Published: 03/29/2018, edited: 01/08/2021