When nature comes back to life outside and the young wild animals frolic across the meadows, then it’s time for anti-hunting training! For owners of hunting-motivated dogs, this time is a horror. The daily freewheel becomes a gauntlet run and so when in doubt the flexile line has to be used so that you have as little trouble as possible. One thing is clear, it is impossible to get the hunting instinct out of the way, especially with dog breeds that have been specially bred for hunting. But you can counteract a bit and that’s why I’m giving you a few tips today that could make living together easier for you.
The goal of anti-hunting training
Attention and impulse control are the be-all and end-all. Your dog should always be accessible and accessible, no matter what is hoping or fluttering. So much for theory. Achieving this, however, requires a lot of training and some foresight on the part of the keeper. If you have a dog that is motivated for hunting, then anti-hunting training should be a regular part of your training plan. I’ll give you a few ideas for your training here.
Anti-hunting training rewards
There are many ways to reward dogs. If your dog likes food and you use food as a reward for anti-hunting training, you are welcome to use particularly high-quality rewards, especially at the beginning of the training. However, you should make sure that your dog is not over-supplied with energy to avoid being overweight. In addition to food and treats, there are many other reward options, such as toys, running together, verbal praise, petting and more.
Tips for anti-hunting training
An existing hunting instinct cannot simply be switched off, but it is possible to redirect it, to promote the dog’s attention and concentration as well as the orientation towards humans.
Tip 1: attention training
Your dog should always look at you when you speak to him. If you have practiced this well, you can catch his attention even in an emergency. However, you have to react early enough. If your dog has already started the chase, it is usually too late. There are several ways to get your dog’s attention. I will show you three examples here:
- Say your dog’s name or another word of attention
- A whistle from the dog whistle
- Let a target touch your nose, for example your palm
All of this has to be properly conditioned. If your dog shows the desired behavior, your praise or click of the clicker follows immediately. This is followed by the reward, that is, something your dog likes. The more you practice this, the easier it will be for you to draw your dog’s attention to you. Your dog will internalize the desired behavior in such a way that it will automatically execute it at some point when you give the signal.
Tip 2: General obedience
Every anti-hunting training also includes training a good basic obedience. Why? Training a basic obedience trains the dog for emergencies. Do you remember? Attention and impulse control. That has to be practiced! Your dog will learn the basis for this through a few very simple exercises. Seat, place, stay, recall, stop. That should be the minimum for your training.
Seat and place are resting positions. In combination with “stay” they cause your dog to learn patience. He must not move out of position until you give the signal. Your dog learns to restrain itself and to control its impulses. If your dog likes to come back to you voluntarily, the chances that he will do it when hunting are greater. The recall should therefore be well conditioned. Also keep in mind that your dog may consider what will be more worthwhile: hunting or returning to you. That is why it is important to show him at the dog place what exciting alternatives await him if he decides to come back to you.
Don’t expect too much, however. Just because it works in the dog place does not mean that it also works in an emergency. Dogs with less hunting instinct may be able to get out of the bait, but there are also candidates that you call for hours without them returning. Your dog’s genetic makeup plays a crucial role here. The stop signal should stop your dog when it is already running. The same applies here as for the callback. If your dog is already on the move, there is very little chance that you can make a difference. I would still give it a try though.
If your dog can execute these commands with little distraction, then try them at a distance or with greater distraction. This makes the exercises much more difficult.
And never forget: dogs learn locally. A trained behavior must be generalized. That means it has to be practiced in many different places before it can work reliably anywhere.
Tip 3: controlled game
Excessive and uncontrolled hunting games should be taboo for all motivated dogs. These include, for example, throwing games with balls, frisbee, etc. If you play with your dog without rules and limits, it may end up in a real ecstasy in which it is no longer accessible. Through the wild game, your dog will practice hunting and learn to follow its impulses even faster. But the opposite is desirable.
If the dog sees a hunting object, then we want him to contact us instead of rushing off. That is why hunting-motivated dogs should learn to control themselves and “ask for permission”. You can practice this by always waiting for your dog to contact you before you throw the ball, for example by looking at you.
If this works reliably, you can start to give the signal “stay” before the ball is thrown. If your dog looks at you, drop the ball. If he stays and looks at you, praise him and send him to catch the ball. Over time, you can throw the ball further away and your dog will no longer run after you, but will wait for your permission.
Transfer this exercise to other everyday situations in which your dog turns up and loses control. For example, when a visitor comes, or it is time for feeding. This is how he learns to curb himself in different situations.
Tip 4: set limits
The towline is probably your best friend for you as the owner of a hunting dog. So use it to your advantage!
Always try to catch your dog’s attention as soon as he has almost reached the end of the leash. This must absolutely happen before he jumps on the leash. Praise him when he pauses before the line is tensioned.
This is how your dog gets to know its scope of action. You have to practice this until it automatically maintains the radius. Give him in praise what he longs for. You have to find out for yourself whether it’s just a treat or a round of romp. Do something! No matter what other people think! Your dog has to learn that you are much more exciting than a bouncing rabbit or a deer.
If you take your dog for a walk on the towline, quick changes of direction can cause your dog to constantly pay attention to you. As soon as he takes your eyes off you, you move on in another direction. Now your dog knows that he cannot take his eyes off you, otherwise you will leave.
Tip 5: give your dog a job
If your dog gets bored on the daily excursions, he will be prone to picking up and tracking. Sure, his environment is much more exciting than you.
However, if your dog has a task to perform, it may happen that he takes it so seriously that he completely forgets about hunting. There are different jobs your dog can do. Here some examples:
- Carry objects in your mouth, such as your own leash, pulling toy or a feed dummy
- Pull a handcart or sled (with a pulling harness)
- Transport items with a dog backpack
- Find self-made tracks of people or food dummies
Maybe you can think of more yourself? It may take some practice to figure out what job your dog would like to do, but once you’ve found one, chances are good that you can distract your dog from hunting by doing this.
Accept the nature of your dog
Accepting the nature of your dog is probably my best tip to you, because completely changing the polarity is impossible. Either you are ready to meet his needs or not. It’s best to think about whether the chosen dog can be happy with you before you buy it.
If you feel overwhelmed, do not hesitate to find a suitable trainer who will respond to your dog’s very personal needs.
Your dog is what it is. But you can learn to appreciate the beauty of a hunting dog. You now have the chance to spend a lot of time with your dog and you can work together! Is there anything nicer than when dogs and humans work hand in hand? Or hand in paw?
I think that’s the best thing about dogs! Most of them feel like doing a task with their owner and you can use that wonderfully for yourself. I promise you, your relationship will change for the better as soon as you give yourself the chance!
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