Shed dogs


Well-Known Member
Intrigued by Wayne's new years resolution to train Lab pup to be a shed dog

How have others done this and what breeds work well?


Dogs that like to retrieve are dogs that like to please their master. They retrieve for the praise and the positive reinforcement the human provides them. About 12 years ago, I got a mountain cur to train as a shed dog, but my job was demanding and I had no knowledge (YouTube was not the tool). I had a 10 day out of state hunting schedule and I got a new home for my mountain cur. A Mountain Cur has a hard hunting drive but they put their feet on everything. Now I am retired and time is on my side.

The breed you select has to be smart and capable of training to retrieve. Three challenges for me: obedience training, train dog to use eyes to find sheds and train dog to use nose to find sheds. Many people are taking an older trained bird dog and training them to the antler part. I want to start with a pup and develop my own training cues.

The resources are available on line to learn how. In a web browser type in "Train a Shed Dog" or "Shed Dog Training" and you will get web article and YouTube resources.

Unfortunately, the competitive field trials are north of Loiusville to the cold north. I will be going to my first trial in southern Indiana on Jan 28th to watch and bring my pup home. His name is Scotty (my mother's maiden name was Scott). I split my payment into thirds. I am getting an established blood line IMO.

In my 20's my dad gave me pick of a litter of bird dogs (English Setters). I had been his gunner on Saturday training sessions on his pups for years. My male dog had bad hips and we had to put him down. That was strike one, the mountain cur was strike two and the third time will be the charm (sound thinking I hope).

GSP and weimarar are two breeds that I think are well suited to be a shed dog. Golden retrievers are also a breed I think are well suited. There are other dogs well suited (intelligences, hunting drive, train to site and train to nose).

I did check on the internet for dog intelligence ratings. That was interesting reading.

Our retrieving introductions will be in a short hallway with closed doors and no exits. The pup will have only me as an option to come to and I will have the food treat as his reward. I will start with a tennis ball with a small antler inserted into the ball. The training info shows handlers how to avoid distractions in the beginning and then to train to overcome distractions later.

My pup will never to be trained for birds. I will keep it as simple and one track as possible.

I think for my situation 2017 is a training year and 2018 will be when I can expect to see the dog show his stuff. The pup's parents are both winners of shed dog trials.

Wish me luck. I am sure I will learn many things in this process.

Last edited:
I would add I have never seen how duck dogs are trained until now. DogDoc and others that duck hunt with labs are way ahead of an old deer guy like me.

Got a kick out of watching a trainer work a lab to a treestand about three feed up a tree in a backyard setting. "Place" was the cue.

Obedience training is about teaching a dog / pup an action that gets associated to a word or short command - "find a bone" or "leave it".

You guys more experienced this rookie are now given the right to laugh as long as you give some good advice. I am sure I will have things to laugh at. Got the hope to see a pup I started from scratch bring me a wild shed antler he finds. ;)
Labs are great dogs,The only toy mine had for first couple years was an antler.there will be a time when they cut their teeth that they won't pick one up until they heal.We go to a pasture starting out and flag where we hide antlers.Be sure and wear rubber gloves and we use food for a reward.Ours dogs have found them and they will even find them by site in wheat fields.They still find less tan half of what the human eye sees.

When you take them shed hunting are they successful at finding and retrieving wild shed antlers for you on a regular basis?

How many labs do you have?

They do find them and my dog isn't the best shed dog for sure so you watch for them to get birdy also.Labs have alot of energy until they get older.They are big time chewers also,nothing is safe