Cooperative hunting – naming triggers / behavior

Cooperative hunting – naming triggers / behavior

Note: “Cooperative hunting” is not the name of a method or a program or a dog school or training direction or or or. Is it really just the title for the article? ! I have the tools for this during my training with Dr. Ute Blaschke-Berthold learned.

Naming triggers and behavior is not the only element in training. List of needs, callback, stop signal etc. are also included!

I will use this article to document our training stand from time to time. So you will always find our latest video at the end.

When I decided to share my life with a Rhodesian Ridgeback in May last year, I clearly said YES to a hunter at the same time. Zuki is the fourth rider in our family. Mara and Tali had a lot of hunting talent, Shiwa was more like Zara and couldn’t do much with game.

The hound

With Zuki’s about the 5th month of life it was seen that rabbits sparked their brains in a special way, from the 8th month of life the deer in the forest were suddenly completely different animals than before. If Zuki were to decide whether she would rather go after a rabbit or a deer, she would still choose the rabbit. But are they both great? .

Zuki didn’t choose life by my side. Nor did she choose to be carted into the forest so that she could not run after the game. What is so simple for us humans – to stop at sighting game and to enjoy the sight – is very hard work for Zuki!

I like to watch dogs when they get their senses to the max and dive into their world. So much is visible in the forest with a hunter by his side!

Cooperation course

Since I can’t undo her hunting behavior – it is inevitably in her genes – I try to get involved in her world. The moment I am on a cooperation course with her, I have an influence on her hunting talent and can control it.

Hunting behavior consists of several sequences / movement patterns:

  • Orientation – Was there something? Where is it?
  • Fix it – there it is!
  • Sneak up
  • Rushing
  • Pack – the prey is packed and kept
  • Kill – the prey is killed
  • Disassemble / eat

Not all dogs show all sequences and not all dogs show all sequences equally pronounced. Zuki, for example, quickly jumps from orienting to rushing. If she could, as she wanted, there would be a split second between perceiving a trigger and rushing.

However, I need more time until my brain can respond adequately! So I try to strengthen the “fixation” sequence through the training. If Zuki looks at a trigger longer before she starts, I have more time to get involved in the action.

It also makes a big difference for the dog whether he voluntarily offers a different behavior, or whether I tell him to look at deer and make a seat or something similar.

Since fixation is genetically anchored, living out is rewarding. No question, rushing would be more rewarding, but it’s up to me to give her rewards that match her motivation. Our reward list is long. I brought her into this situation, so it is also my job to make her life in the area as pleasant and satisfying as possible.

Some herding dog owners train with their dogs on sheep. Our hunters really pulled the butt card … I can’t offer my magic mouse a “roe park” and I don’t want to think about it for ethical reasons. But when we penetrate the game habitat, I try to handle contacts for both sides as best as possible.

Name triggers / behavior

If I call triggers like deer and rabbit, I opened three nuts with a cracker:

1st reward

By giving the animals a name, I can use watching them as a reward.


I saw the deer in front of Zuki (it is quite common among hunting dog owners, because our eyes are also very well trained). Then I can query a behavior such as sitting, lying down, hand-touch, walking a distance on the side or something and then giving the reward “Where are the Bambis?” After the marker. Searching, orienting for a trigger – and I’ll even tell her what she can search for – is very rewarding and worth more than a treat in such a situation. And I don’t have to worry that if she found the trigger, take off …

  1. Stop and fix

… the name has been reinforced by me at the same time as standing still and fixing!

  1. Query behavior

If Zuki has noticed a movement in the forest and it jerks through, then I can stop and fix it with “BAMBI”. It becomes a waiting game.

Side effect:

If Zuki finds deer in the forest, she often shows them to me clearly. The phase between perception and loss printing has lengthened significantly and I have the time I need to get involved.

And I can ask her “Where are the Bambis?” And if she finds nothing, can the leash be removed? !

It goes without saying that Zuki is secured on a leash in game-rich areas, as long as the behavior is not shown safe enough for me. Leashes are mandatory in many areas. And, just in case, their recall is pretty good.

Training cutout and amplifier

Since the situations in the forest do not occur in a planned manner, it is sometimes very difficult with videos. But today I was lucky and I started the naming phase. My rewards after their reorientation could have been nicer, but with a camera in front of my eyes it is unfortunately always a compromise – mostly to the disadvantage of Zuki.

When naming, of course, you don’t start with the quickly fleeing game, but choose a distance where the dog still has a chance to stop!

When naming, the marker is followed by verbal praise for support. The real reward is being able to keep looking! Important! If the dog can release itself from the trigger, a reward should follow that corresponds to the dog’s current need – e.g. a little racing game, a string on a string or a biscuit!

I find this form of impulse control training directly on the trigger for hunting behavior more effective than training, for example, on a stimulus rod.

Rabbits are very strong triggers for Zuki. In contrast to rabbits, which quickly dissolve in air when you get closer, very similar to birds, rabbits dash for a very long time and are therefore in the field of view for a very long time.

Our training level with rabbits is not very far because we meet far too few. In addition, the rabbits often let you get very close until they sprint out of their socks in a flash. Zuki activates this rapid movement immediately.

In these cases, our current training status (and / or) remains:

  • Securing in rabbit areas by towing
  • stop signal
  • call back
  • Zuki starts, slows down and starts scanning

The situation like here in the video is very rare. It would have been a nice way to name rabbits, but I thought about getting the phone out of my pocket.

If Zuki was able to scan the rabbits beforehand, it would be much easier for them to endure if they whiz away.

In the meantime, Zuki has become pretty safe when it comes to displaying and stopping at the game. So can we build our freewheeling project? !

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