How to Train Vizsla Puppies to Hunt

Hard
6-8 Months
Work

Introduction

Vizlas have golden fur as rich in color as their lovely personality. These little pups are the smallest of the all-around Pointer breeds. Traditionally, they are gun hounds and are known as hunt, point, and retrieve dogs. A cute fact about these little pooches is that they are often referred to as ‘Velcro-dogs’, because they are so people oriented. This is perfect when they are a puppy, as it enables you to form a bond with your pup. This makes them even more loveable and easier to train.

These puppies are gentle, lively, and intelligent, with a natural instinct to protect their own. This makes them perfect hunting dogs. Vizsla have a natural ‘prey drive’ and so can be easily taught to hunt and retrieve small animals such as rabbits or pigeons. Their calm nature allows them to easily adapt to gunfire, making them the perfect weekend shooting companion. You'll never go wanting for a good hunting partner with a Vizsla at your side. 

Defining Tasks

It is important to keep your puppy mentally as well as physically stimulated, and so hunting is the perfect sport to train her in. By teaching your pup to hunt, it also teaches her obedience, therefore making her a great pooch to have around friends and family. 

Vizslas are intelligent dogs and therefore can be trained in obedience from eight weeks old. This includes commands such as ‘Sit’, ‘Stay and ‘Come’. Once your puppy has mastered these types of calls it is time to move on to hunting skills. To fully train your puppy in hunting, it can take anywhere from six to eight months. Continuous practice is also key in order to keep your puppy's skills up to scratch. Some puppies may pick up on hunting skills and techniques faster than others, but with enough patience and practice, your Vizsla can be on her way to forming good behaviors that work well in the field.

Getting Started

Firstly, it is important to research the type of prey you wish to catch. If you are an experienced gunman, then this is the perfect dog for you. If not, don’t worry. Vizsla are also keen chasers, so catching rabbits is ideal. Secondly, find a location in which you are able to hunt. Local hunting ranges or ranches are ideal for this type of hunting.

Vizslas are also dogs that are incredibly smart, as they rank 25th out of 79 breeds when it comes to intelligence. However, they can get easily get bored, so training your pup in simple obedience training when they are young is a sure way to keep them attentive. Once they've picked up a decent array of obedience skills, you can move on to hunting techniques. 

The Gunfire Method

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Step
1
Sound recognition
Get your pup used to the sounds of gunfire by walking her near a pigeon shooting field. Slowly walk your pooch closer and closer towards the sound, rewarding her for maintaining her cool. If she becomes fearful, you'll want to go back to where she was last successful and try again.
Step
2
Retrieve
Teach your pup the 'Retrieve' command by throwing her favorite toy and praising her when she brings it back to you. You can also use the word 'Fetch' as the verbal cue, but it's up to your preference.
Step
3
Scent
Familiarize your pooch with the scent of what you want to hunt. For example, let her play with rabbit skin if you're planning on hunting rabbits. Do the same for other game like birds, rodents, vermin, or deer. You can find scents or skins at specialty stores.
Step
4
Retrieve prey
Teach your pup to retrieve the prey you have familiarized her with. This may consist of chasing and capturing birds, rodents, rabbit, or other game. You'll want to avoid having your puppy try to catch large game. Start with already dead animals, if necessary.
Step
5
Returning prey
When out shooting, use your retrieve command to get your pup to eye track the prey you have shot down and return it to you. Again, this may take some practice and you may have to assist her in finding the prey that you've downed.
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The Scent familiarization Method

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Step
1
Prey play
Let your pooch play with a previously hunted item of prey you intend to hunt. This will get your pup used to the scent of the prey and how it looks. You can focus on one prey animal at a time or differentiate the types of prey, depending on your preference.
Step
2
Seek out
Your pooch will want to seek out the piece of prey because she sees it as a game. The next step is to drag the prey along the ground to get your Vizsla to follow the trail that it leaves behind.
Step
3
Hide prey
Once you have finished dragging the prey along the ground, hide it in an easy-to-find place at first. You can change up the terrain, environment, and hiding place as your Vizsla gets more practiced.
Step
4
Search by scent
Let your pup use her amazing sense of smell to search and find the prey. You may have to help her out at first and then let her on her own. Increase the difficulty as you go along, rewarding her for finding the correct prey items.
Step
5
Head outdoors
Continuously practise this with your pup outside until you see her find other trails. These trails will most likely be of live animals. Allow her to follow these trails as she wanders, but keep her on a leash until she is reliable with her recall.
Step
6
Prey drive
Your pup will instinctively try to catch the live animals due to seeing it as a game and the instinctive nature of her prey drive. Encourage this behavior, but try not to encourage any mangling or consuming of the animals that she catches.
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The Pointer Method

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Step
1
The scent
Teach your pup that the aim is to find the scent of the prey by allowing her to sniff the prey in which you wish to hunt. You can use skin, dead animals, or bottled scents to acclimate her to the appropriate scent of prey.
Step
2
The point
Lay the prey on the floor and reward your pup when she points her head towards the prey and stands still. Reward her for staying in place rather than pursuing the prey, as you're trying to encourage her to point rather than to chase.
Step
3
Go outdoors
Move to the outdoors where there is a lot more distractions and place the prey further away. Start with minimal distractions and then up the amount of noise and other stimuli in the area.
Step
4
Reward
Again, reward your pooch when she signals to you where the prey is in the field. You can reward her with treats or a toy, depending on what motivates her the best.
Step
5
Live hunt
Take her on a live hunt. At this point, your pooch will have enough skills to scent track the prey and use her instinct to stop and aim her muzzle towards the game. From here, you can get in close enough range to shoot or capture your prey.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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