Get Your Dog Trained to Hunt Shed Antlers

Discussion in 'Deer Tracking Dogs' started by wbpdeer, Feb 1, 2018.

  1. wbpdeer

    wbpdeer Well-Known Member

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    My dad trained bird dogs as a hobby at first and then made some $$ in the mid 1960s thru the early 1980s. I helped him more than my brothers. I was a teenager interested in what normal teens focus on. But when had successful quail hunts, I would clean the birds and mom would cook them. I got first pick on the platter and would look at my brothers as I got the best looking piece. I didn't know why daddy loved his dogs so much back then. My Scotty has taught me how easy it is to love a dog.

    I believe duck season is winding down - if not over in some areas. Don't jump on me 'cause this forum covered about 40 states or there abouts.

    A trained waterfowl dog is 2/3 of the way to a completed shed dog. Obedience and control are already established. Retrieving is not a question - that has already been solved.

    To get the waterfowl dog to hunt shed antlers we need to teach the dog what is the object. The antler is the object. We are going to teach the dog to ID the antler by sight first. Then we are going to teach the dog to ID the antler by smell. I personally believe the smell part is easy - nature took care of that when the good Lord gave the dog a large nose to smell better.

    I attended a Hunt Test in Owenton, KY on Jan 13th. We (host and participants) battled a winter snow to get that one completed. It was fun to see the dog work in the snow and cold.

    As I drove home I promised myself I would work hard at recruiting / assisting others make a shed dog out of their dog or help them train a pup. Now I am not a dog trainer that gets paid. I did learn to train my dogs on many of the important steps.

    The Kentucky Hunt Test was the first for that state. Mississippi is conducting a hunt test Feb 17th - that state's first. Tennessee has not yet but I am working on changing that. We had Iowa Shed Dogs form their club this week. A new club in Oregon this week. If anyone on here lives in the Oregon area, go to NASHDA.com and look up that club.

    I anticipate a new club will form in Missouri sometime this year.

    If you have a lab, golden retriever, GSP, GWP, beagle, Cocker Spaniel, German Shepherd or any other active dog you can get them to hunt shed antlers on your own efforts. YouTube has many resources to learn from and with.

    I have worked hard on five forums talking about shed hunting and hunt test: this one, TNDeer, KentuckyHuntingNet, Missouri Whitetails and Bowhunting.com. Had some luck but am still at it.

    I believe there are many people that would enjoy it if they know about it or got some encouragement.

    If you would like to know how to get your dog started on antlers, let me know on this thread or send me a private message.

    Wayne
     
  2. catscratch

    catscratch Well-Known Member

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    I'm in... I have a basset house with a great nose but she has no clue what do to. It would be great if I could point her in the right direction.
     
  3. wbpdeer

    wbpdeer Well-Known Member

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    Catscratch,

    How old is the dog? Does the dog has any interest in retrieving? Got a play drive? I have no experience with basset hounds but have heard amazing stories about them from dog owners.

    My questions are to gain some information about your dog. If you are in - then Wayne is in.

    We need to get the desire to retrieving going if it is not present. Short sessions work great - long sessions tend to defeat our purpose. If this dog loses interest in a particular session - WE STOP RIGHT THEN. We are going to build good habits - not bad habits.

    I have two labs: Scotty is the oldest and could care less about a tennis ball. He likes bumpers and antlers. Perry is the youngest lab - born May 2, 2017. That dog loves a tennis ball. He would have sit Derek Jeter on the bench if Perry was a baseball player. He like to face me at about 25 to 30 feet and allow me to throw toward him. His reaction and agility is fabulous. He likes bumper fine and antlers fine. But the movement of the tennis ball appealed to his eager - hard driving nature.

    I say that to point out - we have to find what works with a dog and get them working positively.

    I say get two tennis balls, two bumpers used in water fowl training one small diameter, one larger diameter and two rubber antlers.

    Dogs that are obedient are so much more enjoyable. Sit, here, stay, place, kennel, leave it, no-no, heel, fetch, find it are some of the commands you need to work toward and develop in the bassett hound.

    I say get two old tires and cut two round plywood tops so you have two places. A dog that is sitting on an elevated platform has better steadiness and is less likely to break.

    Sit the dog, show them the bumper, toss it and say fetch. If the dog goes to get it - that is a great sign. If they go get it and bring it back - that is a super sign. Work with getting the dog to naturally retrieve. We will worry about retrieve to hand latter. Never allow a dog to chew on the object we want them to retrieve. That to me is developing a bad habit.

    If you are successful early getting the dog interested in fetching the rubber antler, tennis ballot or bumper ALWAYS STOP while they are excited. You want to jack up their interest and leave them wanting more. If you show your teenagers how to do this, you can get more sessions but it is not a competition. If they see the dog put it together, they will enjoy hunting shed antlers with the dog.

    So my original post for your dog is about retrieving. If we get that and the dog has a nose, we just need hunt drive and teach the dog to know an antler by sight.

    Wayne
     
  4. catscratch

    catscratch Well-Known Member

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    Lol, she has zero interest in retrieving. You throw a ball and she looks at ya like you're crazy. What she loves to do is go on walks and track things. She is content to walk right next to me until she crosses a scent that interests her, and then she wants to follow it. Sometimes it's a squirrel, sometimes it's quail, lot's of times I have no clue. I usually tag along with her for a short track and then go on with our walk. Whenever she happens to find an antler I give her tons of praise and she falls all over herself. I'll study your post a little closer and see what I can do with her that takes advantage of her personality and strengths.

    Thanks.
     
  5. wbpdeer

    wbpdeer Well-Known Member

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    What does she do when she finds an antler? Does she run around with it in her mouth? Does she bring it to you or close to you?

    Does she just sit down where it is and chew on it?

    Trying to assess her level of activity.

    Wayne
     
  6. catscratch

    catscratch Well-Known Member

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    She sits and wiggles around. Happy as can be... no desire to pick it up.

    Sent from my SM-N910V using Tapatalk
     
  7. wbpdeer

    wbpdeer Well-Known Member

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    Full-time trainers call it table work & hold conditioning. You need a strong table to put the dog upon so they are about your chest height. They have a good collar on the dog. They attached ropes or leads to that collar so the dog can't move their head around much.

    1. Get the dog accustomed to being up on the table with you in front of them. You need a gentle calm voice. You make eye contact with the dog. It may take 4 to 8 sessions to get the dog calmed down and trust in the location and situation.

    2. Many trainers use gloves on their hand and put their hand in the dogs mouth as step two. They will be saying hold - they don't want the dog to bite them but to hold down on their hand without fighting the leads that hold their head up via the collar. Eye contact is important and we use a gentle voice. This dog has to trust you and you better be able to trust a dog that you place your hand inside their mouth.

    3. After progress on #1 and #2, you move to a paint roller and get the dog to take that into their mouth. Get eye contact, present the roller cover in front of the mouth and say hold.

    Jeremy Moore - Dog Bone has excellent YouTube videos showing his slow deliberate approach to working a dog on hold conditioning.

    I have not taken either of my dogs thru "hold conditioning" but the full time dog trainer did this with them. Patience matters.

    If you did a search on YouTube for Hold Conditioning you will see many excellent videos to watch that will help you understand better than my written attempt to paint the picture.

    I do hold conditioning with my dog but I was not the person that introduced it and trained the dog - I am reinforce it with a bumper and with an antler.

    Wayne
     
  8. wbpdeer

    wbpdeer Well-Known Member

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    Jeremy Moore's video are good but long. I did a search just now and found a shorter version you can watch to get a good idea.

    Ryglen Gundogs and you can put in "Homer Hold Conditioning Part 1"

    Homer is an English Cocker Spaniel. The length is much shorter. You can watch about 4 videos on the progression.

    Your dog has no interest in fetching or retrieving an antler or a tennis ball. This type of training is how people that know - train / develop these habits in a dog.

    Check it out and let me know what you think. To become a shed dog - we have got to learn to retrieve antlers.

    Wayne
     
  9. lablover

    lablover New Member

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    Hi all, new member here.
    I have a four year old black lab that I would like to start working with for a shed dog. He loves to retrieve a tennis ball or a stick and we'll do it all day long. He is very obedient and listens well. Today I took a small shed and tried throwing it for him. He would go to it every time and even chew on it but would not pick it up and bring it back.
    Any suggestions?

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  10. wbpdeer

    wbpdeer Well-Known Member

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    I assume you were outside throwing the shed. So does he retrieve the tennis ball to you when you throw it? Two methods to try.

    Method One. Put him on a short check cord (maybe 10 or 12 feet long). I would buy a couple of different size bumpers that trainers use to train duck dogs. I would sit him in a heel position beside me and throw a bumper maybe 6 feet in front of him. I would expect him to stay in the sit heel position beside me. Once that is done, I would call his name at the same time I put my hand in front of his nose and say FETCH and point to the bumper. I would use the check cord to get him to bring it back to me. If he does that - give him/her the greatest praise ever!!!

    Method Two. Put him in a closed hallway inside the house (no open doors). Throw bumper short with the check cord. Same process - make him stay and then send him with Name Hand and FETCH. We must get him to love the praise when he brings it back.

    To me very obedient means he will sit on command, stay on command, heel on command, place on command. A full time trainer will do hold conditioning and force fetch. Those are very valuable but cost you money. I have one lab that was force fetched and other one is finishing up right now.

    Get on YouTube and watch videos to see what others do successfully. That don't cost you.

    Get the bumper work done and then move to the small antlers.

    Right now he likes chewing on the antlers - he is possessive. We want him to learn the bumper and then the antler. Some people use a paint roller fresh out of the bag.

    Good Luck.

    Wayne
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2018
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  11. lablover

    lablover New Member

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    I tried it inside and out.
    He will set, stay, heel and fetch a ball or a stick.
    He doesn't act afraid of the antler, he just won't carry it.
    Could he be intimidated by the points or just doesn't like the texture?

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    Last edited: Apr 3, 2018
  12. wbpdeer

    wbpdeer Well-Known Member

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    He just won't carry it Then we need to work on hold conditioning. Most trainers will sit the dog up on a table top (gives them more control) and they use a lead tied above to hold the dog's head up. They will put a bumper or paint roller in the dog's mouth and work hold conditioning. They move thru that and them move to an antler. They go out of the way to make sure the dog's gums don't get pinched.

    Get on YouTube and search hold conditioning - you can see some videos that show the process very well. They get the dog to hold an antler on the table first. The second step is to get the dog to hold the antler in their mouth as it sits in the heel position on the ground and third they get the dog to hold the antler and walk in the heel position on a lead.

    Is the dog motivated by food or treats? If so, I would use that to reward the dog for small improvements when he does it right.

    Once you get the dog comfortable with the antler in their mouth moving then the retrieve process will likely come together.

    My oldest dog is force fetched and he loves retrieving a bumper. I have a large one and one that is smaller in diameter. I get better antler retrieves when I work bumpers 2 or 3 days a week. Our command for me taking the bumper or antler from Scotty's mouth is GIVE.

    Be patient and study up on hold conditioning on YouTube then get to work with the dog. Table work can be done inside (rain or shine) and can be done at night.

    I work hold conditioning some inside my living room at night. When the dog has the bumper or antler in their mouth we are saying good dog in the voice that makes their tail wag because they are doing good. As a dog trainer trainee, you watch experienced trainers and you will soon understand that their voice, tone of voice and consistent commands are the foundation of their success when moving a dog thru a new habit.

    Good luck.

    Wayne
     
  13. wbpdeer

    wbpdeer Well-Known Member

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    How many times will you have to say HOLD with the bumper or antler in the dog's mouth before he gets it - this master wants me to hold this in my mouth and bring (give) it to him? Depends on the dog. This question sums up your challenge and task. It can be done.

    You need to know your dog and what motivates him. Also, we get better results if we stop while he is doing well. If you go to long in a particular session - then you are increasing the length of time to get the habit develop. A situation where "Less is Better" or "Less is More Effective".

    Short sessions maybe twice a day can be very effective especially if you find what motivates the dog. Eye contact, a steady head, a wagging tail, a relaxed dog are all part of an effective session and effective process.

    Wayne
     

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