View Full Version : Games to help a pup learn to hunt
10-11-2010, 02:04 PM
I am trying to find games that I can use to help my puppy (4 months old) learn to use his nose as well as improve his sense of smell. I live in town, so its hard to find ways to work on hunting skills at the park or in the yard on a daily basis.
I have tried trowing a couple pieces of kibble into the grass where there are a ton of leaves and let him go find them. Is that smart? Any other ideas?
10-11-2010, 02:44 PM
No, making him hunt for food is not a good idea. It has been said, they then think they are hunting the birds to eat them. I use a scented canvas covered dummy. With what ever bird scent you want to hunt on it. If you cannot find canvas dummies. I make them by stuffing a bunch of old socks and rags into a sock and tie it off. You can make more than one for different birds. Also use the same dummies and teach the dog to retrieve at the same time.......Bob
10-11-2010, 02:48 PM
What do you do with the dummy to practice in the park or backyard?
10-11-2010, 03:04 PM
Just throw it out and let the dog find it and bring it to you. It is a great game to them. Some hunters teach the obedience commands while playing the game. I for one like to do that way. It is easy and not pressuring the dog. If the dog does not respond the way you want, give up for the day. You don't want to lose your cool at this point. Dogs can think and reason things out and they can remember better than you think. Just take it slow and easy and above all keep it fun for dog..........Bob
10-11-2010, 05:22 PM
What sort of dog is it?
In addition to what Bob mentions, you can drag the sock/dummy along the ground when the pup isn't around, leaving a scent trail. Then bring the pup out, point him to the start of the scent trail and let the pup follow it to the dummy. As he gets better at it, you can make it tougher by doing more twists and turns or doing it in harder cover if you have some available.
As a general comment, I think hunting and smelling are pretty much innate abilities that your dog is born with, and will come out naturally when your dog is exposed to birds. I don't think there is much you'll be able to teach him that will make him a more skilled hunter when he's older. I would concentrate on obedience training now, as that's something you can work on wherever you are, and will make a huge difference in how your experience is likely to go when you eventually get the pup out to the field and on birds.
Can you find a trainer or training group to get the dog introduced to birds and guns? Even if you can only do it every once in a while, that would be a good step.
As a general comment, I think hunting and smelling are pretty much innate abilities that your dog is born with, and will come out naturally when your dog is exposed to birds.
I'd definitely agree on this from what I've seen. Dogs use their nose for everything. Using the nose to find something hidden in cover is a bit more 'advanced' on the training scale versus, say tossing bumpers onto mowed lawn. One thing we did early with our pup was hide a favorite toy in the living room. Behind a pillow. Under a sweatshirt. wherever, if she wanted it, she'd find it.;)
My cousin has a fun game he does with his lab in the house - takes a duck wing, has the dog leave the room/area, then hides it. He let's the dog back in and plays 'find the bird'. Dog works the room and comes up successful every time. Granted he's a bit older (year and a half), but it's a simple game to play at home.
for me, at the park (we don't have a back yard), I toss bumpers, a dokken trainer, or tennis balls. Once she was retrieving consistenly, I'd make a toss into some light cover where she'd have to use her nose. then gradually build up the difficulty level. keep it fun. best of luck.
10-12-2010, 09:09 AM
It's a Brittany,
I do get him out into some CRP on the weekends and we have already moved up to shooting a 20 gauge behind him when I throw a bumper, now I am trying to teach him to use his nose more.
His sense of smell is still developing and I would just like to have ways for him to practice using his nose to find things. I throw a tennis ball, but he doesn't seem to find it with his nose, more his eyes... We play hide and seek in the house, but he doesn't seem to use his nose, he just looks for me.... I just got a Dokken trainer and plan to get some Pheasant scent to put on it, but was afraid that might be the wrong message in a yard and maybe I should only use that in taller grasses?
Would I rub some other scent on the socks or bumper I drag through the grass or should I buy pheasant scent?
Thanks for the responses, you've been very helpful
I wouldn't sweat it too much at this stage. He'll figure his nose out and what all those wonderful smells mean. Is there one toy he loves more than his others? remove all the others, tease him with the favorite, when he's not looking, hide it. behind your back, under a pillow, etc. If you need to, rub it on your leg or on him to pick up some extra scent. it'll come. When you're playing hide and seek, he very well may be using his nose to help with the eyes too.
10-12-2010, 09:45 PM
I'm sure your dog can smell fine, and if he comes from hunting stock most likely he will know what to do in the field, but yes you can help that. The example of hiding in your house and pup just looking for you instead of smelling for you shouldn't be an indicator. Your scent is all over the house and he is used to locating you by movement not by scent. At 4 months get him around some live birds. Hold a piegon or quail by the legs and let him get a good whiff, wings flapping in his face, the whole deal, something he can get excited about. Tease him with the live birds and let him watch you plant some and he will run right over to them. After that, plant some without him watching and let him go find them on his own and then praise him lavishly. I realize you won't be able to do this much, but that is the smell that is bred into them for hundreds of years, they won't forget it either. Leave pup wanting more and more.
10-13-2010, 03:46 AM
I like to exercise the dogs and drop frozen pigeons in the field as i go or canvas dummies with pheasant scent. As i bring the dog back through the field using the wind to their advantage, I am always amazed to see the light bulb go off in their head thats says" hey that was bird scent better go check that out." My point is you do not have to have ideal conditions like a crp field, I use a hay field. I have used mowed brome grass fields, wooded areas just so the the bird isn't on a golf course so they are smelling vs sighting. I have done this with all of my dogs as soon as I feel I can trust them off lead to return on command.
At just over 5 mos old my pups went to SoDa last year and had 2 retrieves and a heck of a lot of fun learnin the hunt game. I debated on taking them and thought what the heck they will be sittin in the kennel at home not learning anything so why not. i won't tell you everything they did was perfect but I did feel they got benefit from it.
10-21-2010, 01:46 PM
Play fetch in the dark with just the porch light on. It wasn't planned, but when my pup was younger there were a couple nights I got home late (after dark) and she still wanted to play. I would throw her kong a couple times and she was able to see it in the dark with the porch light on. Then she lost sight one time and her nose went to the ground and she covered the whole yard until she found it. Do this every once in awhile and it seems to help them "hunt" for it. -Charlie
10-25-2010, 11:09 AM
I have just been throwing the tennis ball in the park, His eyes must not be fully developed yet because he can't seem to see the ball until he is 20 feet from it, but he smells for it, uses the wind, and pretty soon finds it.
You've never seen a father more proud
I guess I'll keep that up, we have been out in the field and he seems to be catching on even though he hasn't been on a live pheasant, he finds a hidden bumper like a pro, and we have shot the 20ga when he's fetching a bumper in the field and he doesn't skip a beat. I'm thinking we'll try pigeons or maybe even a pheasant in a week or so, I'd like to train him by getting him on a ton of birds.
I'll get a pic on here when I do
10-25-2010, 06:37 PM
A friend and I run our dogs on his uncle's farm. When we go out I take a chuck it and an orange tennis ball covered with pheasant or duck scent. As we let the dogs run the field I will either throw it when he is at heel or most the time I like to throw it when he is not looking. I started off easy but now I throw it into the thickest cover I can find. Made a big difference in a very short amount of time.
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