How to teach shed hunting to dogs?
Shed hunting is a great fun activity that many owners teach their dogs. To train your dog to hunt sheds, it’s essential to start with indoor training first. It can take 2-3 months to help your dog understand the basics of shed hunting.
Hundreds of articles talk about introducing shed hunting to dogs; however, majority of them do not explain the right ways to teach shed hunting to dogs in the perfect manner. Shed hunting is one of the popular outdoor activities amongst dog trainers. They love to spend time with their dogs in quest of finding deer antlers.
It’s a great experience for your dogs as they learn new hunting techniques and ways to enjoy wild nature. A well-trained shed hunter dog can prove to be a valuable asset for you for a long time. And the best part, any dog who is open to learning new skills can become the master of shed hunting. This activity makes them more strong and attentive, which is very helpful for dog owners to train them further.
So, gear yourselves as we’re going to discuss the proven ways to teach shed hunting to your dogs.
What Is Shed Hunting?
Many of us know already about the concept of deer Shed hunting, but to those who don’t know what shed hunting is, let’s explore further. Shed Hunting is finding and searching deer antlers that naturally fall off from the head of the deers. The deers usually shed their antlers in early springs and peaks before winters.
There are many reasons behind the falling of antlers from the deer heads. The major factors are:
- Change of hormone levels
- Testosterone drop
- Change in stress levels of animals
All these factors result in the drop of deer antlers. The majority of the drops are seen in mature and adult animals as they are more prone to the above factors. Many people search for sheds to sell them and make some good money. The old and vintage the shed is, the more money it will fetch. In comparison, others use beautiful antlers to decorate their homes and galleries.
5 Easy Ways To Teach Shed Hunting To Dogs
You’ll be glad to know that Shed hunting can be taught to almost any dog breed that has shown learning capabilities in the past. They need to be equipped with the right techniques and strategies to find as many sheds as they can. Below are the 5 ways to introduce Antler Shed hunting to your dogs:
1. Indoor Training Sessions
Start with indoor training sessions with your dog. The idea of training them indoors is to keep them away from any kind of distractions. It would be best if you work on to retrieve train them. A formal retrieve training consists of picking/holding/carrying, and walking with the objects. The end goal is to teach them to release the object in the trainer’s hand when pointed out.
Try to make this activity fun-loving for your canines. The more they will enjoy finding the objects, the faster they will upgrade their hunting senses.
2. Outdoor Training Sessions
Once your dog shows some searching skills at home, it’s time to unleash their outdoor hunting skills. Here, the goal is to make them familiar with different smells, sounds, objects, etc.
You can take them to woods, tree corridors, bedding areas, or public parks to train them. Let them sniff and smell different objects lying in the parks. Test their retrieving skills, which you’ve helped them build over time. Hide their favorite objects, toys, utilities in the parks and let them find them. Once done, don’t forget to reward them. They may not find them initially; however, their hunting senses will gradually become more powerful.
3. Introducing Dummy Antlers
Now that your dog has built some good hunting skills and senses, it’s time to show them the dummy Antlers. Here, you need to introduce them to the shape and smells of the antlers.
Don’t rush and present them with the real antler. You need to be careful to make sure they have a positive experience with the antler-shaped object. That’s why we’re introducing an antler dummy at this stage. There are many dummy antlers-shaped objects that you can purchase easily and are quite essential for their training purpose.
4. Introducing Shed Antler Scent
After they get introduced with dummy antlers, you should train them for sniffing and smelling the antler scents. Again, antler scents are very useful to shed train your dogs.
Let them sniff the antler scent first and then put that scent on the dummy antlers. Then, hide that object somewhere and let them find it. You can also throw that object far away and then command them to bring it back and hand it over to you. Please do not assume that your dog will find it every time you hide that object, and rather have some patience. It’s a time taking process, and your canine will gradually build their searching skills.
5. Introducing Real Antler Sheds
Your dog has practiced a lot and is on the verge of becoming a shed hunting machine. So, without waiting for more days, it’s time to make them familiar with the real deer shed antlers.
Borrow an antler shed from your colleagues or buy one and let your dog play with it. They have spent weeks or months playing with the dummy antlers, and now they deserve to see how an actual antler shed looks like. After they spend some good time with the real antlers, it’s time to take them to the battlefield grounds. Head over to the areas where possibilities are high to find many antler sheds.
Your dog will be high on confidence, and when they sniff the smell of the hidden antlers, they’ll become more excited and aware of that object. Remember that your dog will use their EYES and NOSE more prominently to find the antler sheds.
Do not expect the best results from your dog from their first-ever hunting test. They will take their own time in searching and hunting down the valuable antlers. Once they become the master of it, they’ll pay dividends continuously for a long time.
Also Read: How often should I take my dog to the vet?
How Long Does Shed Hunting Dog Training Take?
Every dog breed is different and possesses their own skill sets. Some breeds find it quite easy to learn new things, while some find it difficult to become familiar with new experiences. Generally, dogs take somewhere around 3-4 months to understand the basic concepts of shed hunting, and mastery depends totally on their frequency of training sessions.
You can start training them for a maximum of 15-20 minutes per day and not more than 3-4 times a week. Short training sessions give your dog plenty of time to learn antler hunting skills while preventing them from overload and excessive training stress. Always reward your dog with proper treats when they show proper behavior, making them more excited for the training process.
Where To Find Deer Sheds?
Deer Antlers are found mostly in their wild habitat areas. The common places to find a lot of antler sheds are:
- Bedding Areas: Areas where animals spend most of their day relaxing and spending their time. These areas consist of heavy grasses, timber pockets, brushy grounds, etc.
- Travel Corridors: Areas that are far away from feeding and public locations. They are usually trail grounds where animals jump and run over the fences.
- Cedar Beds: Another good place to find several deer antlers. Here deers go to sleep and drop off their sheds.
- Standing Crops: Properties having large swaths of corn or bean crops are great areas to find countless antler sheds. Deers used to visit these places frequently in search of food and hence shed more drops.
- Mating Areas: Deers also have special places where they enjoy the mating process. It’s one of the best places to find the shed antlers as mating involves a high amount of body movement, which can cause antler shedding.
Which Deer Species Sheds Antlers The Most?
There is no common deer breed that is known to shed the most antlers. However, some of them shed their antlers frequently. The deers, elk, moose, and reindeers almost shed their antlers regularly, depending on the season and the environmental factors.
Shed Hunting Laws – Is It Ethical And Legal
Shed hunting is trending and gaining popularity amongst many parts of the world, mainly in the US, UK, and other western countries.
Many countries have their own regulated laws when it comes to shed hunting and selling them. Head over to local laws and regulations to know the legality of shed hunting in your country and state. For the United States, read on to the ethics of shed hunting and regulations. Also, check out why Shed hunting is Illegal in some US states.
Keeping Expectations Realistic
Well, here things can go haywire and out of control.
What if we can tell you that even after training your dog for months, not all dogs can guarantee you great results. So, you need to see and measure the performance of your dog from time to time. If they are not showing any good hunting signs even after frequent training sessions, it’s time to stop your desires. And that doesn’t mean that your dog is not meant for hunting.
Some breeds are good swimmers, runners, hunters, eaters, etc., and one should not expect them to be perfect in all things.
Key Takeaways And Precautions
You need to be aware of some precautions and factors while going to Antler Shed Hunting with your dog. Here they are:
- Shed hunting season lasts for 2-3 months only starting from early spring. So it’s important to prepare your canine in those remaining 8-9 months to master shed hunting.
- You need to know that deers are most vulnerable in winters, so it’s better to leave them undisturbed to get them the chance to survive in those harsh and difficult months.
- If you’re unable to find any sheds, then try changing your strategy. Most of the people search on the ridgeline, and it’s hard to find sheds there. It’s better to search in those areas where chances are high to find the antlers.
- Owners need to understand that not all dogs show interest in learning new things, and that’s perfectly okay. And a good owner knows when to STOP! Don’t force them to learn shed hunting if you have a disobedient dog who is hard to train on.
- Never rush the shed training process with your dogs. Have patience and let your dogs build those hunting skills naturally. The often they’ll fail, the sooner they’ll succeed.
Shed hunting is a great activity both for dogs and their owners. Once your dog becomes the master of shed hunting, you’ll be glad to see their searching speed and skills. Just remember that your dog won’t find sheds overnight and will build their own pace. And as a dog owner, you should let them enjoy the process.
Let us know in the comments if you’re also seeking to train your dog for shed hunting and what steps you’re following!
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