How to Train a Hunting Dog: First-Year Training Tips
Training your hunting dog can be a daunting task, especially when starting in the puppy years, but with time and money invested properly, you’ll have a well-trained hunting dog in no time. But this task does require patience and hard work to ensure success, which is why doing the right things in the dog’s first year of training is essential. Not only will you have an obedient hunting dog, but a well-mannered hound is good for the family and home too!
A few of the things you’ll want to consider when training a puppy in their first year is socialization, housebreaking, crate training, obedience, training collars, gun obedience training, and more.
So, let’s get started.
One of the first things you’re going to want to do is socialize your hound in training with people and other dogs. Getting them groomed, taking them to the vet, and bringing them to the dog park will help them socialize with others. More importantly, introducing your hound to open hunting grounds and new terrain, no matter the weather or conditions, will help them in the long run.
The more time you spend with your hound, the stronger the bond will be between you two, which will greatly affect the success of your hunts. This also relates to the family and time spent with the puppy. Keeping a hunting puppy outside while the family is inside only isolates the dog and prevents socialization and bonding.
Letting your young hound in training explore the open fields and hunting grounds is a great way to build their confidence and comfortability. At this stage, staying close is always a good idea; however, if you want to give them more freedom, getting a tracking collar will give you peace of mind while they explore. You can also devote some play time during this period.
Remember, at a young age, puppies are not built for long or arduous exercise. Doing so can damage muscle and growth.
Part of the process is housebreaking and crate training to ensure that they’re not only a good hunting dog, but a good house dog as well. When a dog understands where to go and where not to go indoors, it’s extremely helpful. In terms of crate training, keeping your hound in training in the crate at night or when you’re not around will eventually lead them to use the crate when it’s time to sleep without your assistance.
Instilling the word “no” at a young age is vital to your hound’s obedience training. This will keep your puppy from getting into things they shouldn’t, prevent them from jumping onto things/people, stop them from licking and biting, and will eventually help them listen to your commands out in the field. Working on this as young as possible is especially important. You can also introduce commands one at a time to ensure your hound doesn’t get confused. Basic commands could be “come”, “sit”, “heel”, or “stay”. Starting with one of these at a time will ensure success.
Gun Obedience Training
Introducing gunfire to your hunting puppy can be tricky, but with hard work it’s worth it in the end. Having a hunting dog that isn’t gun-shy will make your life so much easier; however, finding the right time to introduce gunfire is important. It may not have to do with the dog’s age, but rather their behavior in other disciplines. Are they receptive to new situations and environments? How easily do they adapt to what’s around them?
First introduction of gunfire should also be limited in terms of the gun’s power, distance, and the setting. A lower caliber firearm at a further distance from the hound in training will start them off slowly, but with incremental changes to caliber and distance, they’ll eventually be used to gunfire with no issues.
Buying a set of small dummies to throw for your dog will build up that excitement for the hunt. You can mix a few items and methods together here, including dog whistles. After you’ve thrown the dummy and they’ve retrieved it and are heading back, blow the whistle and run away from them. If they don’t drop the dummy by the time they’ve reached you, praise them for hanging onto it.
Referring back to the note about exercise, too many throws and retrieves can wear on a puppy physically and could hurt them.
One of the most important parts of hunting dog training is the introduction of collars. Getting them used to wearing one as early as possible will help you at the later stages. At first, your hound in training may seem uncomfortable or irritated by the collar, but this is normal. Don’t remove the collar. Using a leash at the earlier stages is also a great idea, but don’t tug or yank them at first. They’ll naturally get familiar with the feel of it and your control over it. A wide selection of collars, trackers, and dummies can be found at Double U Hunting Supply, a reputable resource for hound hunting supplies and informational articles.
Remember, training your hunting dog at the puppy stage can be hard work, but it’s well worth the effort and discipline. Don’t be discouraged or frustrated by any backtrack in progress. It may just mean a change in training is needed. Enjoy the journey and the process with your hound in training.