How to Train a Dog to Track Deer

If you’re a hunter, learning how to train a dog to track deer can be a real asset. Not only will it help you bag more games, but your dog will enjoy the experience as well. Deer have a fantastic sense of smell and hearing. But dogs are one level ahead. That’s why they can outsmart deer.

There are breeds of dogs specifically bred to track deer, such as the Russian Tracker or Hungarian Vizsla Hound.

If you want to start training your dog, especially if it’s not one of the hunting breeds mentioned above, I suggest starting with something smaller. For example, you can begin with rabbits or squirrels before moving on to a bigger game like deer. This will help build their confidence and make them successful hunters.

How to Train a Dog to Track Deer

What is a Game in Hunting?

From the perspective of hunting, “game” can refer to anything hunted down by people. This includes small creatures like rabbits as well as deer and other mammals. Games can also include insects like flies or even birds like chickens if they are intended for human consumption.

What is Hunting?

Hunting is different from poaching because it follows both traditional rules and ethical standards, depending on location. Traditionally speaking, hunting is the act of pursuing, killing or capturing wild animals for food, fur or sport.

Before we move on to the training part, there are a few things you need to understand both about dogs and deer.

Dogs Have Emotions, and They Understand Our Emotions Too

First, dogs are animals that like to please their owners. If you praise your dog for good behavior when tracking deer, they will be more inclined to follow commands in the future. Conversely, if you always scold your dog every time they make a mistake, then your dog may become depressed and lose confidence when it comes to hunting.

Second, dogs can sense when their owner is happy or sad, which means you should feel happy whenever your pet succeeds at finding its prey. These factors together mean that training your dog shouldn’t be stressful. Otherwise, your dog could experience anxiety which wouldn’t help anyone. So, yes, dogs have anxiety too!

Deer are Extra Sensitive Animals

Now that we know how dogs work, let’s talk about deer. Deer are extra sensitive to the environment around them. This means that if you’re making too much noise or if your dog is getting too close, the deer will sense it and run away.

The best way to avoid scaring away deer is by being as quiet as possible yourself and training your dog to be equally as quiet. Remember, they have an amazing sense of smell, so even if you can’t see the deer, they can sense you coming.  

How to Train a Dog to Track Deer

What Qualifies a Dog to be a Hound?

To successfully track deer, the dog needs to have three essential characteristics:

  1. They want to have a terrific experience of odor
  2. They need to be able to follow commands from their owner
  3. They need to be patient and not give up easily

If your dog has all of these qualities, then it’s on the way to becoming a successful deer hunter!

Join a Hunting Club to Familiarize Yourself with the Culture

If you want to become successful at tracking deer, then I suggest joining a hunting club. This way, you can learn more about the traditions of hunters and how you fit into them. Plus, it’s also important not to go out hunting without knowing what you’re doing.

What is the Best Dog Breed for Deer Tracking?

There is no one “best” breed of dog for deer tracks. However, a few breeds are higher suited for this interest than others. For example, hounds like the Russian Tracker or Hungarian Vizsla Hound were explicitly bred to track deer. These dogs have an excellent sense of smell and are very patient, making them perfect for this activity.

There are plenty of other dog breeds that can be trained to track deer, which is why you are here! So, let’s quickly hop into the training process.

How to Train a Dog to Track Deer

Now that you know what’s necessary for both the dog and deer, let’s start with some essential training tips.

Ensure Your canine is wholesome and fit

Before starting any training, make sure your dog is physically healthy. This means they should be up-to-date on all their shots and deworming treatments. In addition, your dog should also be physically fit for the activity. You don’t want them to get tired halfway through the hunt. For this purpose, you also need to ensure that you are feeding them the right type and amount of food. Their weight loss program have to be wealthy in protein and fats.

Scent Training

The first step in training your dog to track deer is teaching them how to follow a scent. You can do this by taking them on walks and hiding small pieces of meat or cheese around your neighborhood. As they get better at following the scent, gradually increase the distance. Once they are able to follow a scent from a long distance, start using deer scents. You can buy them at most hunting stores. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can even make your own deer scent by boiling down fresh deer blood. I wouldn’t recommend trying this if you’ve never done it before as it can be dangerous.  

Teaching Your Dog to Stay Quiet

The next step is teaching your dog to be quiet when hunting. This means no barking, whining or making any other noise. As they get better at it, gradually increase the difficulty by making them stay quiet in more and more challenging environments. You never know what challenges your dog might need to face during an actual hunt. That’s the reason it’s better to be extra cautious.  

Endurance Training

This means taking your dog on long walks. Starting with simple pastures and then increasing the difficulty of the terrains. Once they are able to go with you on all types of terrains, it’s time to increase the distances. As they get better at it, increase the difficulty by walking them through more challenging environments such as forests, swamps and other types of rough terrain.

Obedience Training

This is the training where you teach your dog to obey your commands. The most basic commands are sit, stay, come and heel. You can start teaching these commands by using positive reinforcement such as treats and praises.

Command#1: Watch Me

The primary goal of this command is to get your dog to focus on you and look in your direction. It also helps train your dog to avoid any distractions and be all ears. Eye touch is the important thing to this command. When your dog looks at you, say “good” and give them a treat. The goal is to have your dog look at you every time you give them this command.  

Command#2: Sit

You want to teach your dog how to sit on command when going deer hunting. You can start by teaching them to sit on small objects such as logs or rocks if they’re having trouble. Start by using the command and then placing a treat in front of their nose. The object you use should be low enough so that it’s easy for your dog to sit down. As quickly as your dog sits down, deliver them the treat and praise them.

Command#3: Stay

This is one of the most important commands for hunting dogs. Once they can stay sitting, you can teach them how to stay put sitting behind deer tracks even if there’s another movement around them. This is necessary because you might need to send your dog to track a specific deer at any moment during a deer hunt. That’s why learning to stay until you give them the okay is vital. To do this, make sure they are sitting and not moving. Next, use the command and then walk away from them. As soon as they don’t follow, tell them “stay.” At first, it might take a few minutes before they start staying for more extended periods. Once your dog starts doing it gradually, increase the difficulty by walking around more around them while still using the command.

If you’ve tried all these methods and none of them seem to work, there’s always another way: positive reinforcement! This means finding things that motivate your dog to sit and stay. You can use interactive toys for this purpose, such as puzzle feeder toys.  

Command#4: Come

This is another important command you want to teach your dog. You don’t want it to run after deer and other prey while you’re busy tracking the ones that interest you. To start, make sure your dog can sit and stay on command before teaching this one. Then, when walking them through forests and other thick areas, use the “come” command when they’ve started moving around or investigating things around them. This way, they’ll learn that whenever you say “come,” it means leave whatever they were doing and come back to your side.

Command#5: Heel

The final step in canine obedience training is teaching your dog how to heel while hunting with them. This training aims to get your dog to walk alongside you. Start by walking a few steps before your dog and then call them. Once they reach you, give them a treat and praise them. As soon as your dog starts getting it, start adding the “stay” command while you’re walking around. This way, when you call them after tracking a deer or two, they’ll come back to your side right away without wandering too far from you.

Command#6: Take It or Drop It

Training your dog to take or drop things on command is a good idea. This way, you can teach them to pick up objects such as small deer tracks and drop them in front of you. To do this, get a few treats and then place one of them under a cup that’s upside down. Next, instruct your dog how to take or pick up the treat quickly without biting the cup by using the “take it” command when they’re going for it and “drop it” when they’re picking something else instead of a treat. Once your dog starts getting it, add more cups, so they have to choose between several different objects.

Command#7: Leave It

The “leave it” command teaches your dog to ignore whatever they’re interested in at the moment and instead focus on you. This is helpful when going hunting because this command can be used if your dog is trying to investigate or follow a deer track that’s not the one you want them to pursue. To start teaching this command, use an object your dog likes, such as a toy or a chew. Then, hold the object in front of them and wait until they try to grab it before pulling it away from them. In doing so, you’ll make them let go of the object on their own. Once they let go because you won’t give it back to them, tell them “good” and then give the object back to them along with a treat. This way, they’ll learn that when you say “leave it,” they need to drop whatever they’re holding even if they want it.

Command#8: Settle Down

The last command you should train your dog to follow is “settle down.” This command instructs them how to calm down while tracking deer. If your dog barks, it can scare the prey away, which means you won’t be able to track it anymore. To start teaching this command, use the “sit” and “stay” commands by themselves first before adding on top of them. Once they get these two down pat, combine them with the “settle down” command so that when you give all three at once, they know what to do.

Command#9: Wait

Training your dog to wait patiently on hunting trips might not seem necessary, but it’s an important part of obedience training anyway. It allows your dog to understand that you’re the one in charge, and they should wait for your instructions before acting. This way, you won’t have to worry about them scaring away deer or moving around too much. To start teaching this command, use the “sit” command. Once they’re sitting, give them a treat and praise them before telling them to wait. Then, walk away from your dog before telling them to follow again. By doing it this way, your dog will learn that whenever you say “wait,” they have to sit down first before being able to move around again.

Once the obedience training is complete, you and your dog will be ready to hit the deer hunting trails. Just make sure to always bring plenty of treats and rewards as positive reinforcement for a job well done.

How to Train a Dog to Track Deer

Final Thoughts

Training your dog to track deer is a fun and challenging experience that can lead to great outdoor adventures. By following the obedience commands listed in this article, you and your dog will be able to work as a team while pursuing deer. Just make sure to always stay safe in the wild.

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