Hunting dogs primarily consist of hound dogs (sighthounds and scent hounds) and gun dogs (retrievers, setters, spaniels, pointers, and water dogs).
Lots of other dog breeds also fall under the Sporting Group and make great hunting dogs.
Each has its own unique way of hunting and capturing prey.
If your dog is one of the breeds that’s good at hunting and you’re thinking of training your dog to hunt with you, following are some basic tips to point you in the right direction.
Socialization Is Key
If you think that you will eventually want your dog to be a hunting dog, then be sure to spend a lot of time socializing your dog while he is still a puppy.
That simply means taking him out a lot where there are other people and other dogs.
The more comfortable your dog is in the presence of “new” things, the better he will be as a hunting dog.
Obedience Training Enhances A Dog’s Ability To ‘Focus’
Next, while your dog is still young, enroll him in dog obedience classes. One of the first things you will learn is how to get your dog’s attention. This is the underlying key to your dog’s success as a hunting dog.
Group classes are okay (and may be a good first step), but ideally you want lots of one-on-one attention with a professional dog trainer. That way, your dog will learn more quickly, and the dog’s training will be more consistent.
Professional dog training will go a long way toward fine-tuning your dog’s skills as a hunting dog.
Basic Hunting Dog Training Commands
Hunting dog training is just like training any other dog. It takes a lot of time and practice, and it will probably take several tries before your dog gets it right.
Here are the pros & cons of using a remote training collar.
Three of the most important tasks that a hunting dog must do with accuracy stem from these very basic 101-level dog training commands:
Here’s why those 3 basic commands are so important in a hunting situation:
#1 Your hunting dog retrieves the bird but doesn’t bring it back.
You’ll be in the middle of hunting, shoot a bird, your dog goes out to retrieve it, and while bringing the bird back something catches his eye and he drops the bird. The dog needs a refresher course in how to properly retrieve.
#2 Your hunting dog will not come when called.
This can be a major problem for hunting dogs since there are so many distractions when you’re away from the dog’s home. If your dog will not come when called, your hunting expedition could be in vain. The dog simply needs to be trained to come straight back.
#3 Your hunting dog takes off as soon as he hears the gun fire.
You don’t want your dog going out to retrieve a bird when other people in your hunting group are still shooting at birds. If he does, then he has a good chance of being shot himself. The best way to correct this is to throw out a bird and have someone else fire a gun while teaching your dog how to stay steady to shot.
Check out these 10 common mistakes when training a hunting dog.
It’s Never Too Late For Hunting Dog Training
If it’s been awhile since you went hunting with your dog and he’s a little rusty on his commands, then you will need to start from ground zero and retrain him on the basic hunting commands.
Willow Creek Kennels has put together a series of excellent hunting dog training videos. I recommend sorting the list of videos by date, then starting at the bottom with the oldest and working your way up to the newest ones. (Here’s another good series of videos for training hunting dogs.)
Don’t miss these archived articles from Gun Dogs Online. You’ll find tons of great hunting dog training tips!
More About Training Hunting Dogs
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- Hunting Dog Training Articles
- A Collection Of Shooting & Hunting Dog Tips
- Hunting Dog Training Blog
- Etiquette Of The Duck Hunt: Things Your Daddy Shoulda Told You