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Author Topic: Squirrell Dog Training by Bogo  (Read 543 times)

Offline TalkHunting Mag

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  • Join Date: Mar 2013
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Squirrell Dog Training by Bogo
« on: March 03, 2013, 04:35:55 PM »
Let me start off by saying I am no professional dog trainer by far, but I have been doing this since I was old enough to remember. Everyone has their own personal training methods and I am sure all of them work just fine. These are just simple things I have been taught and handed down over the years that work and so far has proven to make some dang good tree dogs. I hope you enjoy reading this article and maybe it just might help you out at some point.

I started training dogs with my dad at the young age of 6. I have always been a dog nut and also nuts about hunting. So in my mind there were not two things that could go together any better. Just like most hunters I started out hunting small game, tagging along with my dad up and down the hills and hollers of North Alabama. As I got a little older I wanted to go more but my dad was working and could not go with me and momma was not having any part of me going along. So my dad said we will get you a dog to go with you and that is when it all started.

My dad had always told me a good dog will look out for you and try to keep you from harm if it is around; it is just up to you to respect them and pay attention to them. So I was raised to see that a good hunting dog is more that just a dog or an animal, it is a friend that I knew I can count on. It’s an extra set of eyes to watch for snakes or big cats not to mention it will help me put some meat on the table. I have been told many times that I treat my dogs just like a person; well I believe they kind of are. They have feelings and that they can understand just about what ever you are saying to them, so I believe that’s the way they should be treated. Who ever came up with the saying “A dog is man's best friend” hit the nail right on the head. They never complain or talk back and when you leave the house with out them they still remain loyal to you.

To get a dog trained to do what ever you would like it to do you got to earn his/her respect first. You have got to let them know you are also a friend they can count on as well as the boss. You have got to let them know they can trust you and that you will be thankful to them no matter what, even when they do not do exactly what you wanted them to do. A dog lives to be patted on the head and hear “Good Boy/Girl”. All of this starts when they are a puppy and I do not think it is ever too early to start this. No doubt this does come with a lot of patient, discipline and a lot of hard work for you and your K-9.  Every dog is different, some just a simple point of the finger and a sharp tone of the voice breaks their little heart and others it may take more. I raise Jack Russell’s and Jack Fist, They are somewhat a timid dog but also rather hyper. Usually a point of the finger and a sharp tone works well for them. I start them off before they are even weaned. I will talk to them and play with them with squirrel tails while they are still in the box. Some show interest right off the bat and some don’t.

With that type of breed it is somewhat bred into them to hunt small game, mainly squirrels so they usually catch on pretty fast. It does not matter how good your blood line may be, you are not always going to get a litter full of hunters. Some just are not interested in it, they just want to be pets and that is just fine once again kind of like children.  You raise them to hunt or fish but they may just want to stay home and play video games. As much as this hurts us…..well we all know as hunters it’s just got to be in your blood and sometimes this will come later on in life for us but in most dogs this happens right off the bat. They are rather in or out and you will know this within the first 6 months. I personally have had good luck with the runts and the ones that are very vocal and high tempered in the box.

I will start them off by dragging squirrels or squirrel tails around the yard and around trees and hang them up and let the puppy try and find it. I know what your thinking “What if Squirrel season is closed? Were on earth am I going to get a squirrel?” Well I have been known to pick up dead ones in the road and cut their tails off. If they are not run over to bad I get the whole thing and that is always a plus. Just a little hint, a good quiet subdivision is always good for a few of those squirrels. People don’t drive as fast through them. ”LoL….I know what your thinking “Gross”……..Yea probably so but it works. When you start dragging the squirrel around always keep your dog at a point were it can not see you so you know he/she is using their nose not just their sight. If it is legal were you are I would prefer to use the most affective way to train your pup. Which is to live trap a squirrel “if you can” they are smart little critters, but I have done it.

If you do choose to go with the trapping method be sure and check your traps ever 3 to 4 hours or as often as possible. Squirrels will not live long in a small area such as a small live trap. They will go into shock and die. Let your pup smell the trap real good with the squirrel in it. Let your dog bark at it and get him/her as excited as possible, try to encourage your dog to GET THAT SQUIRREL or BARK AT BOY/GIRL or even a little WATCH IT NOW helps! Try and back the trap away from the nearest tree at least 70 to 80 yards. Hold your puppy let the squirrel out and give him about a 50 yard head start then turn your dog loose just so he/she can just about catch the squirrel before it gets on the tree. This will allow your pup to know were to look and find the squirrel and will also get him/her to start rearing up on the tree barking at the squirrel.

This method works better that any other simply because you are using a real live squirrel. Once you get your pup to rear up on the tree encourage it once more to BARK AT THE SQUIRREL! WATCH HIM! And to GET HIM! Let your pup know what his/her job is. Once you get your pup on the tree and it knows what’s going on just walk away. If the pup follows, walk back to the tree and repeat the encouragement. Try walking away again and give it a minute. If your pup trys to follow just keep walking. Walk a little ways from the tree and stop. Just wait and see if your pup returns to the tree on it’s own. If so, just watch its actions and start the encouragement again.

After a little bit of this, shoot the squirrel out on your pup. This will fulfill the job to let your pup get the squirrel as soon as it hits the ground, with any luck the squirrel will bite him/her, if that happens this will sure enough make your pup want to go after them. Always let your pup know you’re proud of him/her. They live to be praised by us and just like us they like to be congratulated for a job well done. I would suggest letting your pup have the squirrel to play with and roll on. Before doing so ALWAYS cut the feet off the squirrel before giving it to your pup or even a mature dog. The feet are very dangerous for a dog to eat and this also will allow for a little blood to come out of the squirrel for the dog to smell. This will allow him to get very acquainted with the smell.

This will be your opportunity to make it fun for your pup. Play with him/her with the squirrel, throw it around and drag it up to trees or somewhere high so they have to jump or rear up on it to try and get it down and always encourage them. All of these steps will make your pup want to go again soon and the more the better while you’re training. The older your dog gets the better hunter he/she will become. Just let them hunt as much as possible because after all you have trained them and that is what they are going to love to do. Just like us, as hunters, they will think about it 24/7. Your dog will know when it’s a good day to hunt, just like you. Then on other days they just lay around. My top dog is named Jake. I can let him in the house and ask him if he wants to go get a squirrel and he will go into my hunting room and sit in front of my gun cabinet and bark, he knows exactly what I am saying.

Between me and my dad we have 7 squirrel dogs 4 of the seven are top notch hunting dogs the other are just a good set of eyes but that comes in helpful a whole lot. What the other dogs miss they see, so sometimes when a squirrel crosses out to another tree the other dogs will stay at that tree barking but the other ones will know were he went. Hunting dogs are fun but require a lot of work and attention. I do not think any child should ever grow up with out a good squirrel dog or any hunting dog. It will teach them understanding, responsibility, and respect for the outdoors.
                 “A Few Helpful Hints”

•   Never let your dog eat the feet of a squirrel!!!!
--- A lot of good squirrel dogs have been lost due to this. The feet of a squirrel have very sharp claws. The claws will hang on the dog’s intestines and when they try to digest them it will rip them open. This will cause bowel to get into the blood stream and kill the dog. He or she will bleed to death internally.

•   Socialize your dog with as many other dogs as possible at a young age.
--- This will save you a lot of heartach in the future. This will allow you to hunt with friends and their dogs without a fight going on. You will be able to put your dog in a dog box with just about any other dog with out a fight. Also this will make your dog not so aggressive at the tree. In other words if another dog tries to tree with your dog on the same tree they will not fight over it. No good dog hunter wants a tree hogging dog. This will cause major aggression toward other dogs and can ruin a young dog your maybe trying to train. It will make them tree shy and they will not tree in fear of being beat up on.

•   How to pick a puppy that you may want to train!
--- Well everyone has their own way of picking out a dog. Well in my book, looks are not going to put food on my table. I like a pretty dog but an ugly one will be just fine if he hunts well. I like a pup that is active in the box. Very playful, high strung and vocal, I always try an get the runt if possible. They seem to make the better dogs in my book. My dad clams that females make better hunters than males simply because they are easier to train and listen better. Which may be true but I prefer males. I like the aggressiveness in a male; they will not give up no matter what.

•   Never Doubt or give up on your dog.
--- You have got to have faith in your hound. If you don’t they will pick up on it and will slack. If your dog barks up a tree and you feel there is nothing there well search it out anyway, they are doing what they think will please you. It might be a cold scent but your dog is doing its job so you got to do yours. Never doubt your dog if your going to do that, you might as well stay at home. Hunting is a job to your dog and they take it just as serious as you do your job at work. So let them know when they do well they are just trying to please you.
--- Don’t give up on your hunting friend too soon. If they are not picking up on it as fast as you would like, just stay at it. As long as they are showing interest they are trying to figure everything out, but it will come. Your dog will not give up on you so you can’t them. Nothing good comes easy to you or them.

•   Stick to the Deal
--- The deal that is made between you and your hunting dog is made at the very beginning of all of this training. The deal is you do your part and your dog will do his/hers. So if your dog tree's, do everything in your power to harvest what your dog has worked for. It has done its part now it is time for you to do yours. Your reward is meat on the table, your dog's reward is a pat on the head and seeing its master smile because of a job well done and that my friend is what your dog lives for and a few scraps from the table never hurt.

I hope this will help you all some were along the way. If you do not have any dogs or hunting dogs I encourage you to get one. They are the most loyal friend anyone can have here on earth. I would not take a farm in Texas for any of mine.



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