Shed Hunting: Few things are as fun for me than being out in the woods with my dogs, and I’m sure nothing is more fun for them. Training your dog to shed hunt can be a great reason for this to happen, and it can certainly increase your chances of finding some sheds.
Lets talk first about the breeds a little. The obvious choice here are labs and retrievers, they are predisposed to this task and they should catch on pretty quick. The reality though is that any dog that listens to you and follows your instructions should be able to preform this task. Even the dogs with the worst noses are still capable of smelling a deer, it just might take them a little longer to catch on to the program.
Start The Training
Training a dog to shed hunt is going to be similar to other types of training you do. Get the dog to pay attention to you. Get them used to the antlers, get them used to looking for them, and getting them to bring it back.
The first part I can’t help you much with! I’ve had both kinds of dogs, dogs that are locked into me and want to work with me, and those that for the most part know that I’m there and for the most part don’t care! The only words of wisdom I’ll give you on this, is that affection triumphs over anger with dogs, and carry treats and you will eventually get them to stay focused.
If you have an old shed or small rack lying around let the dog get used to the sent. DON’T let them chew on it however. That will become a tricky habit to break especially if the first shed your dog finds with you turns into a game of keep away, hide and chew!
Work On Commands
Start small, work with retrieving, this can be done in the house even. Get your pup used to running across the floor picking up the shed and bringing it back. This is important, because you’re establishing the goal for the dog, as well as the working relationship that you will have with them.
Once you have the retrieving done it’s time to start the yard work. Start that first time with a little refresher on retrieving. Now that you’re warmed up start with the dog inside and place the antler in the yard, bring your pup back out, give the command you’ve been working on and let them find it in the yard. Start this at a short distance at first, expanding as you go. Once you and your dog are proficient in this area its time to start simulating shed hunting. Get them out of the yard and into an area with obstacles, tall grass, some trees, or some brush and see if your partner can work their way to the sheds. If you can get this test mastered you two are ready to hit the woods, have some fun shed hunting, and maybe even find some sheds if you hit the right places.
Need some shed hunting motivation? Check out these shed finds!
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