Spring training for a young hunting dog

Dominique and Sébastien, experts in hunting small game with pointers and hunting salesmen in the Decathlon Dax store, share their training experiences with you in this article. How to train a young puppy to hunt And how to make it progress for future hunting seasons The steps to be observed in the process Backed by their many years of practice, here they give you the key steps, with some tips and advice.

Spring training for a young hunting dog


You've just had a puppy: how to start
its training

Training your young dog

"When the puppy arrives after weaning, give it a nice place in the house (transport box or / and assigned mat) or kennel (with mat, blanket, straw): it will be its place, because you want to make your dog happy.

Give it a suitable diet for its age so that it can develop and grow properly. The goal? So it has a healthy lifestyle, to ensure its health in the future. The idea is to provide your animal with a balanced diet that is not too rich, but sufficient in calcium for the development of its bones.

On the work side, at that age (from 2 months to 1 year), make it take regular exercise, at least one daily 15-minute walk to create moments of sharing and familiarisation. The puppy will recognise the hand which puts the collar on it to go and explore the forest and go hunting with it later. These are moments of play and moments of cuddling, because dogs love being petted!    

A tip:to get the puppy used to being on a leash, have it wear the leash and collar at several times of the day freely (without contact with your hand) in the house, in a park or in an enclosed garden.

This way, during future outings outside, the puppy will not feel embarrassed by wearing the collar and the leash: it will be more attentive to you about forthcoming exercise or simply a nice walk.

For exercise, buy it playthings (rubber ball, biscuit toy, small dummy…) to play with and slowly begin to awaken the notion of retrieval.

In order to awaken its pointing instinct, using a fine bamboo cane or quite simply a cane fitted with a fishing line and game feathers, give it a pointing exercise on sight by moving the feather duster until the puppy points. If it stops pointing to try to catch the feather duster, move the feather duster until it points again. Be careful, however, not to overuse this exercise: the purpose of this is only to awaken the dog's natural instinct to point, sight never being more important than the dog's sense of smell.

Training your young dog

In terms of safety, take it out with a suitable leash and collar: let it meet other dogs and people in order to make it a sociable animal and appreciated by all. It will only be better balanced in adulthood.

For surroundings, prefer an open field if you want your helper to be fast and seek later at a long distance or even very far, or covered ground, with branches, if you want a shorter seek. This depends on the surroundings in which you hunt".

How to have your dog make progress out of season

In answer to this issue, Sébastien and Dominique give us some ideas on how to work on the dog's training more efficiently and faster.

Training your young dog

"Recall is a basic order. This is the first exercise that your faithful companion must learn, and is the most important at this stage. To do so, go to a forest and use a whistle. If necessary, hide so that the dog uses its nose to find you: the idea is that the animal keeps contact and always comes back to its master.

Then, on learning how to actually hunt, do what is called breaking-in. Breaking-in is the first step in training to hunt that begins before the first effective season, so that it is as successful as possible. Training to hunt, strictly speaking, will start if necessary the following year.

Specifically, breaking-in is done with a perched bird in order to make the dog point, scent it, point again and run after the game to excite your companion. After, or during the hunting season, do not hesitate to repeat the operation".

Dominique, 47, has been hunting since he was 16, and has been training dogs for 10 years.

He has 3 pointers, is a woodcock hunting specialist (in particular in the Landes region), is a member of the Club National des Bécassiers 40, the Amicale Saint Hubert des Landes, and is a Field-Trial guide.

Sébastien, 43, has been hunting since he was 20, and has been training dogs for 5 years.

He has 2 pointers, is a specialist in small game birds and hunts in the woods and on the plains. He is a member of the National Club of Bécassiers 40, as well as of the Amicale Saint Hubert des Landes.

Training your young dog

Train your dog for hunting competitions and trials

Where to train it

As part of competitions or trials, training in France can only take place inside hunting enclosures in accordance with article L.424-3 of the French Environment Code of Law. That is to say, on land adjoining a house and surrounded by a continuous and constant fence preventing any communication with the property of neighbours and completely preventing the passage of game and of human beings. In this case, training sessions are possible, except:

- if the density per hectare is greater than 1 animal (for large game), in which case the place is considered that of a breeder.

- if the circumstances confirm the animal is owned, this means its status of res nullius (res nullius means "nobody's property": therefore having no owner but which can nevertheless be owned) to that of res propria (res propria means "a person's property": therefore having an owner).

In these situations, training, competition or trials are prohibited.

When you should train it

The rules are different according to the breeds of dogs authorised to hunt and the periods of training.

For hounds,training, competitions and trials are authorised: ~- either all year round for walking dogs kept on a bloodhound leash on artificial tracks ~- either between the general opening of the hunting season and March 31 in other cases ~

For pointers, spaniels and retrievers, training is possible: ~- or every day between June 30 and April 15, no shooting being carried out on game; the shooting intended to assess the behaviour of the dogs is carried out using only primed ammunition ~- either during the hunting period and on the opening days of the hunting for the game in question, in other cases ~

For blood dogs, they take place: ~- all year round if the dogs are on leash on an artificial track or on a healthy and cold track ~- during the hunting period and on the opening days of the hunting for the game in question, in other cases ~

For terrier dogs: ~- every day between June 30 and April 15 for trials on wild boar and hunting for hares (no shooting is carried out on game); the shooting intended to assess the behaviour of the dogs is carried out with primed ammunition. ~- during the hunting period and on the opening days of the hunting for the game in question on a natural burrow or all year round on an artificial burrow