Training for rabbit hunting!

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Training for rabbit hunting!

This is a discussion on Training for rabbit hunting! within the Dog Performance Sports forums, part of the Dog Shows and Performance category; One of my friends is a hunter..i asked him what he hunted..he hunts venison..but i asked him if i got zoe ready to hunt rabbits ...

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Old 10-10-2013, 07:52 PM
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Training for rabbit hunting!

One of my friends is a hunter..i asked him what he hunted..he hunts venison..but i asked him if i got zoe ready to hunt rabbits if he'd do rabbits too..he said yea for sure.

So what would u recommend i get to train her..any tips u guys can give me about training hunting dogs?

Thankx in advance!
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Old 10-11-2013, 01:21 PM
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One of my friends is a hunter..i asked him what he hunted..he hunts venison..but i asked him if i got zoe ready to hunt rabbits if he'd do rabbits too..he said yea for sure.

So what would u recommend i get to train her..any tips u guys can give me about training hunting dogs?

Thankx in advance!
Awesome! The kind of post I always want to see on here If you notice my avatar picture, I very much enjoy rabbit hunting, and beagling especially. All hunting dogs are definitely not created equal. I've had experience with beagles but more experience with the versatile hunting breeds like Weimaraners, GSPs and retrievers-mostly Labs out of that group. Training a bird dog is a lot harder than a hound in my book. Hounds are about 90% instinct, 10% training when it comes to their work in the field. Bird dogs are more like 65-70% instinct, so the training is more involved and important. With hounds, usually by the first few times out, you know if you've got a good one or not.

With beagles, getting them to open up on the trail is the most important thing you can do. It's also probably one of the only aspects of beagling that requires a lot of human intervention. A silent beagle is like a solar powered flashlight. You need to know where the dog is at, how close the rabbit is, etc and all that is determined by his howling/crying. You are essentially making the dog rabbit-reactive (behaviorists, is that a real thing? lol) on purpose. Take your dog on walks in rabbit infested areas, and when she sees one, rile her up, get her to howl and bay and generally cause a ruckus. Rabbit scent can be bought at most sporting goods places in the dog section. Expose your dog to rabbit scent, lay drags in the yard with a paper towel or something similar with rabbit scent. A real pelt is WAY better if you can get your hands on one.

Live rabbits are awesome. If you can find someone to give a couple to you or catch some for you, great. They don't even have to be wild for a beginning dog. Some hybrid meat breeds are pretty darn quick, especially young ones. Find a fenced in area, like a soccer park or baseball field if your yard isnt fenced. Put the rabbit inside the fence, and leave the dog out. By now, the dog should be getting more and more agitated, and when she starts howling, reward her by letting her in. She will chase the rabbit around, but the rabbit is so fast it will gradually gain ground, and get far enough away to either go through or under the fence. Ideally, your dog should reach the escape spot and go nuts. You want this.

Later, get a friend to help you, set up some brush or stick piles somewhere, and your friend stands by one and holds the rabbit. When the dog hits the brush pile, set the rabbit loose. Also, walks in the woods are great, throw treats and hot dogs in thick briars and brush to let your dog associate thorns and sticks with goodies. I only have a little bit of time but I'll post again on this thread later, promise!
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Old 10-11-2013, 03:11 PM
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Ok back!

I guess where I left off I was talking about getting the dog used to briars and thorns. You can do this practice anywhere, a park, your yard, hedge rows on public streets, just toss little tidbits in there. Your dog will be conditioned to bust thickets when you go out in the field, and once she finds that first rabbit in there, its on!

Beagles all have different styles. The rating system is usually on a 10 point system. Speed, nose, mouth, handling. I like a medium dog, medium-hot nosed, deep bawl mouth, and handling I am flexible on, supposing the other attributes are solid. Medium hot nosed means the dog will search for scent but ignore the old ones. Bloodhounds and the like are cold nosed, they will run a trail hours or days old. Rabbits move a lot-I like my dogs to pick up on a relevant track where the rabbit JUST WAS, not where he woke up this morning. Chief has a deep bawl mouth on the trail, some of the smaller beagles have a higher steady chop, the real small ones and some females squeal more than howl or bark.

If you've never had your beagle hunting, be ready for sounds you've never heard. Chief, like most beagles, is very vocal even around the house and has a wide range of sounds. But some of the crazier ones I've only heard in the field on the trail of something. It's really pretty cool.

Put a bell on your dog if you're running in coyote country. For the most part they fear bells or any unnatural sound. It wouldn't hurt to carry a sidearm just in case of an encounter, especially if you are running only one dog that day. Coyotes will stand their ground and fight an 80 pound Walker hound and win, a beagle is a snack.

Some clay shooting or bird shooting before rabbit season is a good idea. Nothing is worse than when your dog gets a good trail, circles a rabbit beautifully, and you miss and the rabbit holes up. It's crucial in the training phase to get a few kills for the dog. If you aren't a big shooter of game, find someone who is and knock a few bunnies down for the dog's sake. Let him rough one up, you can eat more later. Beagles aren't retrievers anyway so no need to worry about being soft mouthed or not. Beagles are just like little toddlers, they key is to just get them excited as hell about everything and make it positive. My cousin has twin 4 year olds starting soccer now and I've seen their coach and the parents interact almost the same way-make it fun, make it simple, when it gets hard or boring, try and change something up to make it more tolerable.

If you have ANY questions feel free to PM me! I can also direct you to some websites to check out, and depending where you're from, I know a LOT of people in the rabbit hunting/beagling community. I'm glad you started this thread, and welcome to the forum! I'm not the most well versed on the science of behavior or training methods and compared to some here I'm practically a bumpkin when it comes to dog psychology. But if there's one thing I know and know WELL its hunting dogs and hounds. Feels good to be able to offer some worthwhile advice once in a while! Good luck with your dog and this season, take some pictures!
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Old 10-11-2013, 03:13 PM
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Here is me and Chief last year :
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Old 10-11-2013, 03:41 PM
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OP, I hope you don't mind if I ask here..

What is the dog's exact role in the hunt? I get the flushing of the rabbit but is there anything beyond that? (Pardon my ignorance!)
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Old 10-11-2013, 03:44 PM
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If you've never had your beagle hunting, be ready for sounds you've never heard. Chief, like most beagles, is very vocal even around the house and has a wide range of sounds. But some of the crazier ones I've only heard in the field on the trail of something. It's really pretty cool.
This is so true. Before I brought Jayne up north, I thought I heard every sound she could make. Well, when she caught the scent of a rabbit she proved me dead wrong.
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Old 10-11-2013, 04:04 PM
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OP, I hope you don't mind if I ask here..

What is the dog's exact role in the hunt? I get the flushing of the rabbit but is there anything beyond that? (Pardon my ignorance!)
The rabbit is jumped only if it is bolted from its nest. If the dog gets on the track and gets warmer and warmer until the rabbit bolts, that is called "bumped."

Once the rabbit is either jumped or bumped, the dog immediately loses ground. Even the best beagles get their butt kicked in a footrace by a rabbit. The rabbit is about 1/15th the weight of a beagle, and knows every twist and turn in the thicket, the dog will not catch the rabbit 99.999999999% of the time. Never say never, I've seen it happen before. But what happens is rabbits by nature are cautious, and homebodies. Once they think they have the dog beat, they will swing out in a wide arc and attempt to return to their nest. This is where the dog swings out even wider and gets behind the rabbit, circling him to you, and in most cases, a gun.

This is why some people don't get why hounds and especially beagles need to be so independent. In a rabbit hunt, most of the time you stand and wait where it was jumped, and just listen to the "hound music"! When you hear the bawling get louder and more frantic, get a finger on the trigger, and keep your head up!
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Old 10-11-2013, 04:11 PM
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The rabbit is jumped only if it is bolted from its nest. If the dog gets on the track and gets warmer and warmer until the rabbit bolts, that is called "bumped."

Once the rabbit is either jumped or bumped, the dog immediately loses ground. Even the best beagles get their butt kicked in a footrace by a rabbit. The rabbit is about 1/15th the weight of a beagle, and knows every twist and turn in the thicket, the dog will not catch the rabbit 99.999999999% of the time. Never say never, I've seen it happen before. But what happens is rabbits by nature are cautious, and homebodies. Once they think they have the dog beat, they will swing out in a wide arc and attempt to return to their nest. This is where the dog swings out even wider and gets behind the rabbit, circling him to you, and in most cases, a gun.

This is why some people don't get why hounds and especially beagles need to be so independent. In a rabbit hunt, most of the time you stand and wait where it was jumped, and just listen to the "hound music"! When you hear the bawling get louder and more frantic, get a finger on the trigger, and keep your head up!
Another likely stupid question...But what do you do to keep from accidentally shooting the dog?
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Old 10-11-2013, 04:17 PM
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Another likely stupid question...But what do you do to keep from accidentally shooting the dog?
LOL I was wondering this too.. I'm guessing the rabbit is so far ahead of the dog its not a huge concern?
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Old 10-11-2013, 04:57 PM
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LOL I was wondering this too.. I'm guessing the rabbit is so far ahead of the dog its not a huge concern?
Yup! Like bigC said, the rabbit is MUCH faster than the dog and will be a lot further ahead. Plus, you're probably going to be able to hear the dog baying (and if not, you'll hear the bells) and will be able to make a judgement call if it sounds too close.
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