How to Train a Dog to Shed Hunt?
How to Train a Dog to Shed Hunt? (Expert Guide)
In spite of what most hunters believe, finding a shed can be a challenging task. This is why people use dogs to hunt sheds. Shed hunting is a popular, fun and healthy activity to keep your dog physically active and out of boredom.
So, it is beneficial for both owners and the dogs. If you are a new dog owner and want to train your dog for shed hunting, then you are at the right place. In this article, I will explain how to train a dog to Shed hunt.
Shed hunting training is similar to playing fetch. The only difference here is that dogs have to find the antlers and bring them to their owners.
So, it is a win-win situation for owners who are looking for new adventures but also want to keep their dogs active. So, are you ready to train your dog for shed hunting? Continue reading.
Training a Dog to Shed Hunt
A shed dog is a dog that has been trained to find antlers that have been shed by deer or other animals. Shed dogs are trained to use their sense of smell to locate antlers that are hidden in the woods or fields.
Shed hunting can be a fun and exciting activity for dog owners, and it can also be a useful skill for hunters who want to find antlers as a way to track deer movement. Shed dog training is not complicated and can be done by following a few simple steps:
1. Choosing a Dog
When choosing a dog for shed hunting, it is important to consider the breed and their natural abilities. If you have never owned a dog before, the German Shepherd and the Bloodhound are the 2 best options for shed hunting.
However, it is more important to find a dog that fits your lifestyle and personality than it is to pick one based on whether or not you think it will be a good shed-hunting dog.
2. Start with Basic Commands
Before you start training your dog to shed hunt, you need to make sure that they have a good foundation of basic commands. Such as "sit," "stay," "come," and "heel". These commands will be important when you start training your dog to find antlers.
3. Teach Fetch
Now, start teaching your dog how to fetch. I would recommend you have them play fetch with a ball, a favorite toy, or with a rolled-up towel. The object of this game is to teach your dog how to Find and return an object to you. As your dog plays fetch more, he learns. When your dog returns items to you, reward him with praise and treats.
4. Introduce Antlers to Your Dog
To get your dog ready to find shed antlers, you need to make sure they know what antlers are. Start by showing your dog an antler in a safe place, like your backyard or a nearby park. Let your dog sniff the antler and get used to its smell.
5. Use Scented Antlers
Once your dog is comfortable with antlers, you can start using scented antlers to train them to find sheds. You can purchase antler scents from a hunting supply store or make your own by boiling antlers in water.
Once the antlers are scented, hide them in an area where your dog can find them. If your dog is capable of finding easy hiding spots, gradually increase the difficulty as he or she becomes more proficient.
6. Use Commands
You can also play fetch with an antler to get your dog used to the idea of picking it up and bringing it back to you. When you start hiding the scented antlers, use a command that is different from other commands you use for other activities.
This will help your dog understand that they are looking for something different. You can use a command like "find the bone" or "find the antler."
7. Reward Your Dog
When your dog successfully finds antlers and returns them to you, it's important to reward them with praise and treats. This positive reinforcement will encourage your dog to continue seeking out antlers and strengthen the desired behavior. By consistently rewarding your dog for their efforts, you'll help them associate finding antlers with positive outcomes, motivating them to continue the activity.
8. Increase Difficulty
As your dog becomes more proficient at finding antlers, it's important to gradually increase the difficulty of the task to keep them engaged and challenged. Here are some ways to do this:
- Hide Antlers in More Challenging Spots: Start hiding the antlers in more difficult locations. This could include places with more cover or higher up off the ground.
- Hide Multiple Antlers: Introduce multiple antlers into the same area. This will challenge your dog to find more than one antler at a time, enhancing their searching skills.
Remember, the goal is to gradually increase the difficulty level. Don't make the task too hard too quickly, as this could discourage your dog. Always reward your dog for their efforts, even if they don't find all the antlers.
This will keep them motivated and eager to continue the activity. By progressively increasing the difficulty of the task, you'll help your dog improve their antler-finding skills and keep the activity interesting and engaging for them.
9. Practice Regularly
To keep your dog's skills sharp, it is important to practice regularly. You can do this by hiding antlers in different areas and using different scents. You can also practice in different weather conditions to help your dog learn to find antlers in different environments.
To maintain and improve your dog's antler-finding skills, it's important to practice regularly. Here are some ways to keep your dog engaged and challenged during practice sessions:
- Vary the Hiding Locations: Hide antlers in different areas to expose your dog to various environments and terrains.
- Use Different Scents: Introduce different scents to the antlers to help your dog become more adept at detecting various smells.
- Practice in Different Weather Conditions: Train your dog in various weather conditions, such as rain or snow, to help them adapt to finding antlers in different environments.
By incorporating these strategies into your practice sessions, you'll help your dog stay sharp and continue to develop their antler-finding skills. Regular practice will ensure that your dog remains engaged and excited about the activity, ultimately leading to greater success in locating antlers.
10. Short Training Session
Expert trainers recommend limiting training sessions to no more than 15 minutes per day and no more than three times per week. Dogs learn more effectively when sessions are short and frequent. During training, it is important to maintain a positive attitude.
You should understand that your dog may take a while to find antlers. Be enthusiastic when training your dog and reward them when they achieve success. Your attitude will affect how well your dog learns.
How long does it take to train a dog to shed hunt?
Teaching a dog to hunt for shed antlers can take a different amount of time (from several weeks to months), depending on the dog's age, breed, temperament, and how committed the owner is to training. Let's go over these factors:
1. Age: Puppies younger than five months may find it hard to pay attention and do the physical activities needed for shed hunting training. Older dogs, around two years or more, can be stubborn and challenging to train.
2. Breed: Some dog types are naturally better at shed hunting than others. Breeds like Labrador Retrievers, German Shorthaired Pointers, and Vizslas are often used because they have a strong sense of smell and a hunting instinct.
3. Temperament: Dogs that get easily distracted or lack motivation might need more time to learn compared to dogs that are focused and eager.
4. Owner's Effort: Staying consistent and patient is very important in shed dog training. Owners who regularly train their dogs and use positive methods tend to see results more quickly.
Training your dog to hunt sheds can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience for both you and your canine companion. It is not only a great way to keep your dog active and engaged but also a valuable skill for those interested in finding shed antlers.
Remember to choose the right breed for shed hunting, establish a strong foundation of basic commands, and introduce your dog to antlers gradually.
Be patient, use positive reinforcement, and practice regularly. While the time it takes to train your dog can vary, with dedication and effort, you and your canine companion can embark on exciting shed-hunting adventures together. Happy hunting!