How To Hunt With And Take Care Of Your Hound

Your hound dog is like your right hand when you're out on the hunt. They are an essential component of a successful hunt. Whether it is rustling a pheasant out of the underbrush or chasing a coon up a tree, it's hard to imagine how you would fare without your dog handling these jobs.

Because of how helpful and loyal they are, you need to make sure that you are taking great care of your hound. You owe it to them to keep them safe and sound for all the work they reward you with.

It is likely that the dog that you've bought has been trained already for the hunt, but there are things that you should be teaching them that will help them to help you better out in the field. Besides the hunt, the way you take care of your dog will go a long way toward a happy, healthy hound that brings you joy for years to come.

In this article, we will go over some tips on hunting with your dog and how to best take care of them.

Prepare ahead
Being prepared and understanding what your dog will be going through the day of the hunt will go a long way to keep him safe and physically up to the task. You should always have a hunt plan in place and this should always include what you need for the dog to get through the day.

For instance, you should make sure that your dog has the gear that he needs to be safe and get the work done. Nite lite dog collars are essential when hunting at night for coons, for instance so they can easily be spotted.

In the offseason, you should also be regularly getting your dog active to stay in shape for the rigors of the hunt. For instance, swimming should be done on occasion so the hound is in the right shape in case they have to swim for any kind of distance. If the water is moving then strength is particularly important.

When it comes time for the day of the hunt, make sure that you are paying attention to the weather. A hot day can be terrible for a dog that needs to stay active. Remember that dogs can only get rid of excess body heat by panting. This makes them susceptible to overheating and can cause some serious issues. Try to plan your hunt for the coolest part of the day. If there is a body of water nearby, then encourage them to go for a dip to cool down. And provide plenty of water for them to stay hydrated.

If you are out for birds, make sure the dog has a buoyant vest to wear for their time in the water. If they end up going long distances then the vest can help them avoid a problem.

Get them used to the hunt
Either before you go out for your first hunt, or to keep them trained during the offseason, you should be doing things that replicate the hunt. First and foremost, they should be used to gunshot sounds so they don't get scared during the hunt.

Take the dog out somewhere that you can shoot your gun with your dog there. Start out by letting them run and shoot the gun around 100 yards away. Pay attention to their reaction to determine how spooked they get. Gradually move closer to the dog until they don't even seem to notice the noise.

Throw a decoy for them to retrieve as you shoot the gun to make it a more realistic experience.

If you have an AKC center nearby then you can also have them run hunting tests for you to help you understand how hunt ready your dog is.

Obedience training
The key to a successful hunt and the safety of your dog is that they are properly trained. And not just trained to do hunting maneuvers but general obedience. During the hunt, the adrenaline is running and an overexcited dog can lead to them getting in harm's way.

This means the dog should be able to heel or sit when told and to stay seated until they receive a new command. You want to make sure the dog doesn't run off into the field when the situation is not ready for it. Taking this further you should also train them to heel while standing in water since you may need to be knee deep in a body of water so you can maintain control while wading.

Basically, all obedience commands should be adhered to so make sure to continue this kind of training even in the offseason.

Retrieval training
Once again, recreating a hunting scenario is the key to making sure they are trained to retrieve game. And the training should be done in various terrains so that they are ready for any area where you will be hunting.

Use decoys to simulate the experience and use a helper. The way to do it is to have a person in the field with a decoy and bird caller. They can throw the decoy in the air while calling and then the dog should find it where it fell. This helps the dog look to the sky when a shot is fired and then trail the bird falling so they can go and retrieve it.

A more complicated training involves blind retrieving. You'll need to use some hand signals the dog understands to find a bird that they didn't see fall. It can take quite a long time to train your dog this way, however.

When everything is coordinated and things work together, it makes for a fun and successful hunt. And this goes for your dog too. They want to do well and be rewarded for their work so this training and care will help them enjoy it more and safely at the same time.

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