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Introducing Your Dog to Hunting

Lab Puppy On It's First RetreiveLab Puppy On It's First RetreiveHunting for the first time with your dog can be an exciting and somewhat unpredictable experience. To help ensure that your first live hunt goes smoothly, it’s crucial that you take a number of preparatory steps. With good preparation, the first live hunt can be less stressful and more fun for both the hunter and companion.

Regardless of the game you are hunting and what breed your dog, it should be expected that there will be a large amount of effort required to train it for hunting. Genetics only allow a dog the foundation to do better at other breeds at particular tasks. Only your consistent training effort will take your dog from a genetic hunter to a ready hunter.

Start As Early As Possible

Preparing a dog for hunting can take anywhere between a short to very long amount of time, so it is of the utmost importance to start as soon as your breed is at the proper age for hunting training. The starting age for hunting training varies depending on the breed, and the correct age can be found by consulting with a breeder or through a breed specific hunting guide.

Obedience Training Is Crucial


Basic obedience training for a hunting dog is crucial as a foundation for hunting training. The commands of “sit, stay, heel, and come” should be taught. Basic obedience training should begin at the earliest possible age. For you and your hunting dog’s safety, it is important that your dog responds consistently and reliably to basic obedience commands. If your dog can get the basic obedience training commands down, it will be able to handle hunting training.

Environment Acclimation

The environment you choose to train your dog in should be one that that is similar to a live hunt environment. If you live near a hunting preserve that you will hunt at once your dog is ready, it is best to take your dog there for hunting training.
Also, if your dog is going to be hunting in water, it is important to introduce it to different water environments throughout its life. The earliest experiences for water acclimation might be with water in a backyard pool or shallow pool. Later, your dog can be taken to rivers and lakes to swim and get used to deeper natural water.

Real vs. Artificial Game

When possible, you want to train your dog for hunting with real game at the environment you will be hunting at. For instance, if you are training your dog for bird hunting, taking it to a hunting preserve and training with live birds is the best preparation for a real hunt. If this is not possible because of the type of game you are hunting, there are artificial training aids that are available.

Avoid Making Your Dog Gun Shy

An important aspect to dog hunting training that many hunters get wrong is how they introduce their dog to gunfire. Although gunfire introduction for a dog requires detailed explanation, there are some steps you can take for your dog to avoid developing gun shyness.

You should:

  • Never shoot over a young dog’s head without a gradual introduction to loud noises.
  • Over time, gradually introduce loud sounds to your dog when it is a puppy.
  • Use gunfire training audios that play the sound of gunfire gradually to your dog.
  • Introduce a gun first by sight and scent, and eventually sund.

Hunting Training Takes Time, Patience, and Effort

These are only a few of the aspects of dog hunting training, and actual hunting training requires several drills and detailed training techniques. But, before you go on your first live hunt, adequate preparation is necessary. Hunting training is complicated and it requires a lot of effort over time, however the ultimate result is that your first hunting experience will be a lot less stressful.

By Sully Chaudry-  Sully Chaudry is an avid hunting enthusiast and a native of Central Illinois. He enjoys hunting as a past-time and cooking delicious recipes with made with fresh game meat.

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