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How to Train a Squirrel Dog!
Many squirrel dog enthusiasts have various ideas about how to train a squirrel dog. It is my opinion that you should first start with good hunting bloodlines. This will increase your puppy’s chances of becoming a squirrel dog. The following should give you some hints…
Step 1: Socialize the puppy early. Whether you get the puppy at 6 weeks or 12 weeks old, give it as much human interaction as possible. If you have children allow them to play with puppies as much as possible. This is really the fastest method of socializing a puppy.
Step 3: Next around 8 to 12 weeks old work on basic obedience and by all means get the puppy used to wearing a collar and work on breaking it walking on a leash. If you do this early you will save yourself a lot of headaches in the future while hunting in the woods!
Step 4: Around the age of 12 to 14 weeks, start taking the puppy on small walks in the woods for 10 to 30 minutes at a time. This allows the puppy to get what I call “Woods Wise”. Woods Wise is nothing more than getting familiar and comfortable with all the different sights, sounds, and smells the woods have to offer. It also makes a big difference in the pup’s overall maturity.
Step 5: Around the age of 3 to 6 months begin to drag and trick with the pup and squirrel tail, hide or dead squirrel. Use this time to get the pup to look at the tail tree, hide or dead squirrel. Once the pup starts barking at the tree they move on to the next step. There are many different methods that can be used to get the puppy “raised”…
Step 6: Caged Squirrel. This step can be skipped if the puppy has already barked at a wild squirrel. I personally don’t like using cage toys as a training method, but it can be useful if you have limited resources such as getting the pup in an area where there are squirrels. Either way, trap and cage a live squirrel and cage the squirrel in a high place such as a stump, picnic table, brush, etc…. Casually walk your pup near the area where the squirrel is cage is This will allow the pup to find the squirrel in the cage on its own. As the pups curiosity gets the better of it, it will move closer to check it out! At this moment the sight and smell of the squirrel will excite the pup. Once the pup starts barking at the squirrel in the cage, then pet him and encourage him. You can also do this with squirrels in cages that have a rope tied to them. The rope will allow you to lift the squirrel up a tree so you can get the barking pup. Once the pup is still barking tree on a squirrel cage hanging a tree move on to the next step. Please be careful not to overcrowd the squirrel in the cage! Once or twice is a lot!!
Step 7: Catch and Release! Turn a squirrel into a loose cage in an area where the squirrel’s choice of trees is limited and let the pup chase it and LESPEREZ its tree. If it makes trees, then reward the pup with treats and praise. Be careful and never release a squirrel from the cage more than a couple of times!
Step 8: From the age of 5 to 6 months there is nothing but “Woods Time”. Woods Time is nothing more than actually hunting the pup! This is the key ingredient in making a squirrel dog. Everything else is just tips and tricks to speed up the training process… Good luck!!
Please note: All of the above ages can vary greatly, depending on your pup’s progress. Always keep in mind you are basically dealing with a child so don’t put too much on them too soon. Allow the puppy to be a puppy. If it is in him he will come out… I have told him before and I will tell him again, “I have never been able to teach a dog to hunt or to tree. I can only give him the opportunity to do what he was. Handling, obedience, and bad habits I can work on, but the pup’s instincts and bloodline will take care of the rest.” Again this is all my personal opinion and nothing else. This is just what works for me… Hope this helps.
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