Whippets: their name derives from an old English slang word ‘whip it', meaning to move ‘briskly’. With speed and agility on their side, Whippets make a best friend to poachers. However, training your dog to hunt can be challenging, especially when they are as lively and intelligent as a Whippet. But with their gentle and friendly personalities, it seems almost questionable that they are some of the greatest rabbit hunting breeds. Despite their appearance, Whippets can be formidable in the presence of a fast-acting prey animal.
The Whippet’s winning field of vision allows it to zero in on its prey, making it one of the best hunting dogs. So with some patience from the owner and repetition in training, this is a challenge that can be definitely be met.
Training your dog to hunt is not only beneficial to you, but your dog as well. Whippets need a lot of mental and physical stimulation and hunting is the best activity to support this. It provides them space to run around, therefore staying active whilst keeping them mentally enthused.
Training your Whippet to hunt can be hard due to the need for a vast amount of space and time. As well as this, repetition is key, and so training your dog almost daily is important. For Whippets, this could take up to six to eight months. The ideal time to start training is when your dog is around one year old. This is when the puppy is young enough to learn quickly but is old enough to learn without getting distracted. Puppies at this age have high retention but low attention and so, a tip is to keep training little and often. When your Whippet is eighteen months of age, you can start shooting sessions in the field.
A pen that is sixty by sixty feet large will enable your dog to get familiarized with rabbits whilst giving them both the distance they need. As the dog progresses, space anywhere from five acres to a hundred acres may be needed. This can be done either in your own garden, or at private running pen facilities which charge you on a per-dog-trained basis.
The second thing to consider is that training your dog to the sound of gunfire is really important. Areas in which gunfire practice is allowed, such as running pen facilities, are a really handy place to start off training your dog. It would also be useful to source rabbit skin or legs to get your Whippet familiar to the rabbit's scent. But the most important thing? Lots of treats and praise!