First time dog training tips...Wisconsin


April 25, 2009, 02:52 PM
greetings, my wife an i got a Peagle (pekingese/beagle....mostly beagle) last fall. he is now just over a year old.

my first question is am i too late to make a hunting dog out of him?

i am thinking he might be best suited for rabbits and squirrels as he is only about 35lbs and might be a bit short to be an all out bird dog but correct me if i am wrong. he has a great nose and is ALWAYS sniffing out birds, rabbits and other dogs.we have been continually working on the basics like come and sit and stay but any time he sees and another animal that all seems to go out the window. we have a training collar that has been used to break him from barking every time someone walks past the window, can this/should this be used for field training also?

i have never been around a hunting dog much less trained one so am not really sure how they should behave in the field. if we actually take him rabbit hunting would he go chase and capture the rabbit or is he merely supposed to find it so i can kill it?

like i said im way new to this and im not even sure if he would be a good hunting dog.

lay on the advise!
i can post a picture soon.

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April 25, 2009, 06:40 PM
the beagle, while independent is a fine hunting dog. my advise for training a beagle is praise when it does something you like and disipline when he is doing something you don't like. since you don't know what your dogs natural instincts are get a book about hunting with beagles and read every page. some of the things you are doing will ruin a beagle. a beagle's trails the rabbit with nose, barking as he trails. the rabbit runs in a circle staying ahead of the beagle. your job is to find a position where you can see rabbit clearly on the circuit and shoot the rabbit without hitting dog. if you miss and rabbit does not run in a hole or loose the beagle, the oppurtunity for a second shot exists. should be several rabbit hunters in your area who hunt with beagles.

April 25, 2009, 07:38 PM
Hey, I know nothing about hunting dogs but I do know 99% of people don't need, and do misuse, their training collars! It should not be the first go-to device for training. 75% of the effort you put into the dog should be establishing authority. Here are two great resources that will come in handy regardless of whether you go the bird dog route, but doubtless will if you do also.

Everything on Leerburg is absolutely worth reading! They have dozens of free articles/PDFs.

April 26, 2009, 10:15 AM
+1 conwict, i should have elaborated on this in my post. i can not stand to see a person with a training collar who has no idea how to use a collar.

April 26, 2009, 10:49 AM
First, Tritronics collars are the way to go because they have the range and they are durable. Don't bother with the cheaper brands found at the pet store...just pay the $300 and get it over with. I read several reviews on those cheaper brands...the ranges were far less than advertised, zaps didn't work and the batteries were garbage. Don't buy twice!

Second, use the collar as a sort of "love tap" to indicate "do it now" when you issue a command. It should be used sparingly. Beagles have to process and decide to do a command. They want to perform to expectations; they just need some time to make the decision. If your dog performs just as well without the collar as with it, then you're doing it right. If the dog starts to get reluctant when you take him out, then you're zapping too frequently and for trivial reasons.

My dog was almost one year old when I started him on rabbits. It's not a big deal to start late. The key is to make sure the dog will sit/stand, stay, heel and return to you in a reliable way BEFORE starting. That means two fifteen minute sessions per day until he has those skills. This should be started with a leash and finished with the collar. I use the collar's beeper as "Return" frequently...since there's no zap, it's just a remote command.

Once he's good at the basics, put the collar on him and go for a walk. He should behave. Use the beeper to get him to return to you. He should do this reliably...but also let the dog roam. Let him get out 50 yards and beep him back. If you beep for awhile (there's a limit...something like 10 seconds) and the dog doesn't respond, pause, do a short "warning" beep. If his body doesn't start turning toward you (or if he doesn't look at you), then give him a very short level 1 zap. Follow it up with a beep as he returns. Use your voice too (though I recommend a whistle--see Gun Dog or Water Dog by Wolters.) Make sure to NOT fall into a pattern (so don't always do the warning beep...use that at the beginning). Otherwise, he'll ignore the beep and continue chowing down on "deer chocolate" until the last warning beep. Ask me how I know :)

Zap Levels: beagles are wimpy. Level 2 on the Tritronics is pretty strong for regular commands. If the dog verbally yelps and is jumping around, that's probably too much zappage. I've only used Level 3 twice: once to stop a fight and once when Level 2 didn't work. I used Level 4 ONCE to stop a deer chase...that's REALLY important to do since deer will run for miles and you will lose your dog. FYI: Tritronics now makes a GPS unit, but it's expensive. You will need to experiment with your dog to see what level is required to get him to leave the trail...some need more and some need less. Generally, my beagle just needs a level 2 zap to stop chasing a rabbit.

At some point, your dog will find a rabbit. Let him take off after it. Say your verbal hunting command...whatever that is. Let him know that he's doing the right thing. It doesn't take much for a beagle with hunting instinct to fall right into a rabbit chase. After the first few chases, he'll just start barking and singing. Try to do this in a field rather than a'll feel more comfortable with the dog running a few hundred yards away from you. Remember, the rabbit will circle back.

Books mentioned:

Gun Dog by Richard A. Wolters
Water Dog by Richard A. Wolters
Rabbit Hunting: Secrets of a Master Cottontail Hunter by Dave Fisher

I have used Wolters' training method on every dog I have owned since reading it. It works very well at taming labs, catahoulas (which I thought was impossible) and even beagles. Labs take right to it. Beagles need a bit more patience, but take advantage of the beagles' inherent desire to please and placid nature. Catahoulas...well...sometimes you have to show your teeth after (gently) knocking them down. They'll know who's "boss" after that, though puppies will still destroy the house (how those pictures on the wall were knocked down--I have no idea).

Finally, I really do recommend you take your dog rabbit chasing or hunting with an experienced pack at least once. They need to learn how to be a dog. The dog will run with the pack and just fall right in line. He knows what to do. While he will fool around quite a bit (especially at 1 year of age), he'll get better as he learns the game. My dog came back from that first hunt a much more confident animal (he literally wouldn't step off the path in the woods by himself). He understood that rabbits were the quarry and that he has 100% permission at all times to chase them.

The best thing is that day you forget your Tritronics collar...and the dog performs perfectly with only voice and/or whistle commands.

April 26, 2009, 07:53 PM
Lots of love and praise goes a long ways.

April 26, 2009, 09:23 PM
A really effective technique during training is to withhold all affection/praise until the dog does what you want it to do, THEN pour it on heavy. People honestly overlook the use of affection as positive reinforcement, and it also strengthens the owner/dog bond. Conversely, never give the dog affection if it's in a mental state it shouldn't be in (excessive excitement, aggression, fear, dominance).

April 27, 2009, 08:40 AM
thaks for all the great tips, keep'em coming. i cant wait to start trying some of these and the books sound really good.

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