Those of us who have gone shed antler hunting before know how challenging it can be. In many cases, finding any takes the ideal circumstances, a large number of friends or family members, and a significant amount of effort.
As a shed hunter, you can’t go wrong with the help of your best buddy! To find more shed antlers than you could ever find on your own, all it takes is a little training for your dog to become shed hunting dogs.
Learn more on how to train dog shed hunt by reading down below!
Best Dogs for Shed Hunting
Antler dog breeds are a frequently questioned question when it comes to shed hunting with a canine team. In the absence of a definitive response, it’s important to broaden your scope of inquiry.
The price, temperament, and space requirements of your antler dog breeds should also be taken into account before selecting a dog breed for shed hunting.
To put it bluntly, a shed hunting dog with a keen sense of smell and an eagerness to please would be an excellent companion. As it happens, this is a rather common trait among dogs.
If you’re looking for a dog that can perform a variety of things, including shed hunting, here are some excellent choices:
• English Pointer
• Golden Retrievers
Steps on Training Dog to Shed Hunt
There are a lot of people who are into shed hunting. But, not all of them are dog trainers, and there are even some who are not well equipped with knowledge to proceed with the training.
This is because training dogs to shed hunting can be quite difficult.
Although it is in the nature of their ancestors to hunt, the domesticated dog has to undergo a modified training routine in order to be a good hunting dog.
Thankfully, there are certain strategies that can be used as a backbone to make up your training routine. This makes it easier to proceed with training your dog, and you can even modify it based on the individuality of your canine companion.
The Anatomy Of Shed Hunting
So, for those who are not familiar, what exactly is shed hunting? The usual hunting involves a long waiting time for your game, even staying up on a tree stand or laying low on the ground.
Shed hunting is where you hunt for naturally shed antlers from deer, elk, moose, or caribous. They seem to shed antlers annually, in order to grow new ones after shedding. These shed antlers are the ones collected when shed hunting!
They can be used as decoration, and they are pretty much unique as there are no two same antlers. It can be enjoyable as the antlers provide a lot of behavioral information for these animals.
Also, it can be profitable as shed hunters can sell these for extra income.
Steps for Shed Hunting Dog Training
It is actually not surprising that dogs can be taught to shed hunt. If you already have a trained dog for shed hunting, you will notice that a lot of time and effort has been saved while hunting with them. Here are some helpful tips to start with your shed hunting.
1. Figure out your dog and your goals
If you already have a dog, then that is fine. But if you have a choice on a partner that you will pick for shed hunting, then try to figure out your goals first in shed hunting before picking a dog.
Try to do your research to pick a dog that is very suitable for hunting. Puppies are recommended, as you can bond as early as possible. Younger ones are much easier to train and nurture.
For hunting, Labrador Retrievers are popular recommendations, but there is no specific breed to get for shed hunting. As long as your canine companion is healthy, it is a green light for shed hunting.
2. Slowly but surely – a good start
It is much recommended to start off slow, but steady. Basically, you are teaching dogs to fetch or retrieve, but the ones that they are retrieving antlers.
Start in your own yard, and teach him to fetch sheds at shorter distances, slowly increasing them as the training goes by. Do not fully exhaust your dog at first. It is ideal to start at a much shorter duration, which ranges from 5 to 15 minutes.
As time goes by, you can increase the distance and the duration that your dog is going to fetch the shed for you.
At first, it is important to teach it as a game to your dog, so he will be excited for each training instance. Do this by promoting positive reinforcement, and you are good to go.
3. Make them learn how to identify and retrieve various shapes and smells
This is the tricky part, the retrieval training. Teach your dog how to recognize the smell of these antlers. You can let them have one as a toy, but make sure that there are no sharp edges on it.
As soon as your dog is proficient at retrieving, it is time to introduce the antler shape. First, buy some deer antlers for dog training.
We don’t simply toss a deer antler into the air and see what happens. Every time a dog interacts with an antler, we must ensure that it is a good one.
As a result, we’re going to use an antler dummy here. Using the antler dummy, the dog will learn to identify the antler’s form with positive experiences in the future.
In order to train your dog to retrieve hard antlers, you’ll need to get one of these goods, which are widely available on the internet.
If they start to enjoy playing on it, you can hide it in certain strategic spots like under the leaf litter, hidden near buttresses, and many more. Make sure that once the antler is retrieved, your canine companion gives it back to you.
After teaching your dog what the antler shape is, it’s time to start introducing Antler smell after your dog has mastered retrieving the antler dummy.
It is possible to buy antler fragrance online, and this is a helpful method for teaching your dog to link an antler’s form and smell with positive reinforcement.
The blind retrieve may be introduced if your dog is consistently retrieving scented antler dummies.
The trick is to reward generously each time the antler is located and retrieved. If you are consistent, your fur baby will recognize that it is important to retrieve it for you.
Basically, you just have to introduce the same smell and shapes for the shed that he is going to retrieve, and you are good to go. Take note that you do not use the same antler as the one you are using fetch with.
They might get confused with the system and ruin the training. For beginners, you can always use non-toxic antler scent and coat the base of the shed antlers that you are going to use.
4. Blind Antler Retrieving
Make things exciting for your dog now that he or she knows what an antler is based on its form and scent. Every step of the way, they’ve been observing how you either threw the item or walked out and laid it down where they could still see it.
Sit your dog down as soon as you can in a safe place like your home. Make sure the antler dummy is out of their line of sight, either by throwing it or walking out and placing it there.
The only difference is that they don’t know precisely where the antler dummy is, which is the same as the retrieving they’ve already been doing.
Make hiding spots increasingly difficult and go outside after they comprehend what is expected of them over a period of time. At this stage, your dog is almost shed hunting! From this point on, the key to success is setting them up.
Do not assign your dog a duty that is above their capabilities. Having greater success means more enjoyment for them and more shed antlers for you!
Using a genuine antler will be the next step after we have reached this stage. Once your dog has mastered the concept of the antler dummy and the actual thing, you may introduce the real thing into your training schedule.
We’ll eventually get rid of the shed dummy and only actual shed antlers will be on his thoughts at all times.
5. Training a dog to shed hunt should be short but regular sessions
More than 15 minutes of training time every day, three times a week, is ideal. Your dog will be able to master shed-antler hunting skills in short, frequent training sessions, avoiding the dread of lengthy, overworked sessions.
Keeping a positive frame of mind is critical throughout the process. Let go of whatever preconceptions you may have about how quickly your dog will learn to identify antlers, and instead enjoy the training process.
6. Reward your dog for good behavior by training in an exciting manner.
Field hunting and introduce the antlers
If your dog is familiar with the scent of the antler, it is time to introduce him to field hunting. Real antlers have similar scent to what you have used during training, so be confident in what you have taught your dog.
It might take a while for your dog to fully master shed hunting, so be patient and calm.
The last phases of shed hunting dog training and shed hunting with a dog are almost identical. However, there may not really be a shed antler in the area for the dog to locate. As a result, it’s wise to begin in regions with a high possibility of success.
Similarly, hunting is pointless if there is nothing to hunt. Keep a close eye on your dog’s confidence in shed hunting until you’re sure there are sheds on the ground.
Your dog’s chances of success and enthusiasm in the search will be greatly increased if you shed hunt in high-probability locations when the timing is appropriate!
Your dog will always utilize his nose and his eyes, so keep that in mind. Try to shed hunt on the downwind side of any terrain feature and he’ll likely pick up the smell long before he finds the antlers!
It is much more recommended to ensure that the first hunts are always easy, so your canine companion would feel happy and successful.
Take note that for every successful hunt, you are to reward your dog properly. This reinforces the behavior, and it will lead to even more successful hunts in the future.
7. Raise and level up your training
If you and your canine companion are confident enough for shed hunting, then move out! Train him even more in the fields. You can hide antlers in tougher and hard to reach areas.
During shedding season, take your dog with you so that he will be more familiar with the terrain and with what to do on the field itself. This is a good way to steadily develop his skills and even provide you with a great find.
A good hunting dog ensures an even more successful hunt, and that never fails especially with a well-bonded canine companion.
Takeaways from Shed Dog Training
A lot was discussed in this article, but here are a few key points on how to train a dog to find shed antlers.
• Make your dog’s life easier by preparing him or her for success. They learn from their successes, not their mistakes!
• Keep your dog away from antlers. Only use it during training and lavish praise on your dog when he recovers it for you.
• You can’t shed hunt with a dog that won’t listen to you. Prioritize basic obedience training over hunting with a shed dog.
• Be patient; it will all work out in the end. A change like this doesn’t come about in a day or two.
• Hiring a skilled shed hunting dog trainer might cost anything from $500 to $1000+ each month.
In order to get the most out of a hunting or competition training program, it is common for it to endure at least six months.
The cost of training is substantial. Shed dog training kit may also be required to teach your dog, which may increase the expense of training.
Keeping your dog in shape and sharp all winter long may be accomplished by teaching him to shed hunt. Everyone benefits from your dog’s shed hunting skills as he becomes better.
Dogs love to retrieve and please their owners, and you get to go home with a whole lot more sheds. For those of you who haven’t tried it before, shed hunting with dogs is a terrific method to prolong your hunting season.
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