The Rat Terrier is a small American hunting dog that is bred to dig, burrow underground, and chase small vermin. Don't let this tenacious terrier's size limit him, as Rat Terriers are such natural hunters that they can be trained to hunt things like groundhogs, squirrels, rabbits, hares, snakes, and even some larger animals like badgers. Dogs have been used as hunting companions by humans for centuries and some breeds have been especially developed to hunt. The Rat Terrier is one of them, possessing an innate prey drive, a wriggly, athletic, agile little body that can negotiate fast turns made by prey trying to escape, a great sniffer for tracking prey, alert eyes and ears for locating and following prey, and the ability to dig underground for small animals that may think that a burrow is a safe retreat. If you're searching for the perfect hunting companion to flush out hard-to-reach game, the Rat Terrier is an ideal choice to raise and train.
Training a good hunting Rat Terrier, like any hunting dog, is about 50% based on the dog's ability, and 50% on training. Being patient and using positive reinforcement to bring out your dog's natural hunting abilities and skills is the best approach with any hunting dog, and especially with capable, alert rat dogs. Skills you will want your Rat Terrier to master in order to hunt include familiarization with specific prey animals, ability to negotiate rough terrain, practice locating and following scent trails, and experience chasing quick prey that may make unexpected moves, twists, and turns. Your Rat Terrier will also need to know how to alert you when he has located prey or cornered something too big for him to take on, so handlers can move in and harvest prey. These skills will help form the foundation that every good hunting dog needs before taking to the hunt.
Condition your dog so he is in good shape, and does not injure himself during hunting. Make sure your dog is used to new equipment, sights, and sounds, that will be used during hunting so he is not distracted or frightened. Depending on the quarry you are after, you can use live animals to motivate and practice hunting skills, or train your Rat Terrier to follow specific scents obtained commercially or from carcasses. Other hunting dogs are an invaluable tool in teaching a Rat Terrier or any other dog to hunt. An experienced hunting dog will model behavior for a younger, more inexperienced dog to follow. All of these tools will set you up for success in your training.