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Beginning Shed-Hunting Training

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March 17, 2011
Beginning Shed-Hunting Training - 8

If you're interested in training a dog to pick up and retrieve shed antlers, then you'll want to watch this video I shot of Tom Dokken working with a young dog named Tank. The appropriately named pooch belongs to Lee and Tiffany Lakosky from the Outdoor Channel's "The Crush."

Like all dog training, teaching a pup to pick up shed antlers begins simply -- with easy and encouraging retrieves and games of search-and-find indoors. As Dokken notes in the video, food rewards are used in the beginning phases to add importance to the antler -- there's no way a bone can compete with the scent of feathers (or fur, if you were training a hound).

Before you can get to this point in training, however, you have to teach the dog that the shed antler is what you want him to focus on. Playing fetch to begin with and then moving to the dog picking up an easily visible antler on his own and delivering it are starting points. After the dog understands that finding a shed is the object of the game and he eagerly seeks them out, then you can progress to hiding them throughout the room -- under pillows, behind doors, in a corner or up/down a couple of steps.

Addendum:

Watch (or rather, listen) to how Dokken encourages the dog to stick with picking up the antler and making the retrieve in the video. The antler is hidden behind some waders and the dog is a bit intimidated by swinging boots and is puzzling out exactly how best to pick up the antler.

Tank is only 9 months old in these videos and, like all puppy retrieves and introductions, lots of encouragement and positive reinforcement needs to be used. Listen to Dokken's voice and how he keeps Tank digging for the shed.

Comments (8)

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from montananative wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Thank you. I'll check it out and give it a try.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Brian Lynn wrote 3 years 16 weeks ago

Hey Montananative,
You're right, you need several sheds to train. It's not so much the need from a scent/familiarity standpoint, but you have to be able to teach him that more sheds are out there waiting for him! You can only do this by having lots of sheds and then placing them out where he can find them and getting him used to searching, finding, delivering and then returning to the field for others. Check out the videos of Tom Dokken in the other shed post "advanced pattern field" and listen as he releases Tank with a cue word. It's just like training a dog to release when upland hunting. Say it every time you're training and want him to quest out for a shed, and then have one that he will definitely find. He'll soon put 2 and 2 together and learn that the cue word means to go out...more sheds and play time is waiting!!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from montananative wrote 3 years 16 weeks ago

The problem i run into with my lab when we go shed hunting is that when I find a shed, he knows it and wont leave me. I can keep it in my pack and he still knows, he just wants to play with that horn. I think my problem was training him with only a couple of the same sheds instead of multiple ones.
One problem may be also that the kids throw balls and sticks for him. He's more of a play dog than a hunter.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Brian Lynn wrote 3 years 16 weeks ago

Good looking pup DJH! When you get him, do as it says and get into obedience training (sit, stay, heel, here) and start playing fetch with him using an antler. That will help teach him that antlers are part of a fun game and reward him with food treats for bringing it back, which will help cement that desire to retrieve antlers. It's happy and fun stuff that starts with a thrown antler and recall for a treat reward. Hopefully he enjoys it and retrieves the antlers...from there you can begin to move forward and leave antlers out in plain sight for him to pick up and return to you for a treat. Then you just progross from there to making them a little harder to find by, as you see in the video, hiding them behid things (pillows, home ornaments, in the corner, etc). Be sure to use a cue word (find it, get the bone, etc) to release him to start his search. Don't forget lots and lots of praise and positive reinforcement! Good luck!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from www.dropjhook.com wrote 3 years 16 weeks ago

Brian, thanks for the advice I will put it to good use. The pup is a shepherd/hound he's 9 months old,(here is a link with his photo & information) =--> http://www.montanapets.org/mvas/pictures/11-oscar.html My oldest son picked him out, we chose to adopt because my son watched one of those sad animal shelter commercials & I promised him when we get a dog we will adopt one. I cant wait, I'm probably just as excited as my kids :~)

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Brian Lynn wrote 3 years 17 weeks ago

Hey DJH,

I talked with Tom last night and he agreed with my suggestion of keeping solid eye contact with the dog (or using beeper/GPS) and then either teaching the dog to sit by the shed or to come and get you and take you back to it. Hope that helps!

B

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Brian Lynn wrote 3 years 17 weeks ago

Hey DJH,
Congrats on the new pup! What breed are you getting (or what's predominant if he's mixed)? You would train the dog just the same for elk sheds as you would for deer sheds, but as you point out: the dog might not be able to carry them back. Let me ask Tom what he thinks. A couple of possiblities that come to mind right off the bat would be: to keep a visual on the pup as best as possible, or perhaps use a beer/GPS collar and train the dog to sit or bark when finding a shed. Not sure though, so let me think on it and ask.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from www.dropjhook.com wrote 3 years 17 weeks ago

Great stuff! Me & the family decided to adopt a pup from the animal shelter, but who would of thought adopting a dog now days is like waiting for acceptance from a college. We have to wait a couple weeks so they can determinate if we are suitable. then after all that we pay a $100 & he's ours. My ? is how would you train a dog to hunt elk sheds that might be to big to carry. Because locally we have alot of elk sheds along with the deer sheds.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)

from Brian Lynn wrote 3 years 17 weeks ago

Hey DJH,
Congrats on the new pup! What breed are you getting (or what's predominant if he's mixed)? You would train the dog just the same for elk sheds as you would for deer sheds, but as you point out: the dog might not be able to carry them back. Let me ask Tom what he thinks. A couple of possiblities that come to mind right off the bat would be: to keep a visual on the pup as best as possible, or perhaps use a beer/GPS collar and train the dog to sit or bark when finding a shed. Not sure though, so let me think on it and ask.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Brian Lynn wrote 3 years 17 weeks ago

Hey DJH,

I talked with Tom last night and he agreed with my suggestion of keeping solid eye contact with the dog (or using beeper/GPS) and then either teaching the dog to sit by the shed or to come and get you and take you back to it. Hope that helps!

B

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Brian Lynn wrote 3 years 16 weeks ago

Good looking pup DJH! When you get him, do as it says and get into obedience training (sit, stay, heel, here) and start playing fetch with him using an antler. That will help teach him that antlers are part of a fun game and reward him with food treats for bringing it back, which will help cement that desire to retrieve antlers. It's happy and fun stuff that starts with a thrown antler and recall for a treat reward. Hopefully he enjoys it and retrieves the antlers...from there you can begin to move forward and leave antlers out in plain sight for him to pick up and return to you for a treat. Then you just progross from there to making them a little harder to find by, as you see in the video, hiding them behid things (pillows, home ornaments, in the corner, etc). Be sure to use a cue word (find it, get the bone, etc) to release him to start his search. Don't forget lots and lots of praise and positive reinforcement! Good luck!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from www.dropjhook.com wrote 3 years 17 weeks ago

Great stuff! Me & the family decided to adopt a pup from the animal shelter, but who would of thought adopting a dog now days is like waiting for acceptance from a college. We have to wait a couple weeks so they can determinate if we are suitable. then after all that we pay a $100 & he's ours. My ? is how would you train a dog to hunt elk sheds that might be to big to carry. Because locally we have alot of elk sheds along with the deer sheds.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from www.dropjhook.com wrote 3 years 16 weeks ago

Brian, thanks for the advice I will put it to good use. The pup is a shepherd/hound he's 9 months old,(here is a link with his photo & information) =--> http://www.montanapets.org/mvas/pictures/11-oscar.html My oldest son picked him out, we chose to adopt because my son watched one of those sad animal shelter commercials & I promised him when we get a dog we will adopt one. I cant wait, I'm probably just as excited as my kids :~)

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from montananative wrote 3 years 16 weeks ago

The problem i run into with my lab when we go shed hunting is that when I find a shed, he knows it and wont leave me. I can keep it in my pack and he still knows, he just wants to play with that horn. I think my problem was training him with only a couple of the same sheds instead of multiple ones.
One problem may be also that the kids throw balls and sticks for him. He's more of a play dog than a hunter.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Brian Lynn wrote 3 years 16 weeks ago

Hey Montananative,
You're right, you need several sheds to train. It's not so much the need from a scent/familiarity standpoint, but you have to be able to teach him that more sheds are out there waiting for him! You can only do this by having lots of sheds and then placing them out where he can find them and getting him used to searching, finding, delivering and then returning to the field for others. Check out the videos of Tom Dokken in the other shed post "advanced pattern field" and listen as he releases Tank with a cue word. It's just like training a dog to release when upland hunting. Say it every time you're training and want him to quest out for a shed, and then have one that he will definitely find. He'll soon put 2 and 2 together and learn that the cue word means to go out...more sheds and play time is waiting!!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from montananative wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Thank you. I'll check it out and give it a try.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)

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