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How to Train a Squirrel Dog!

How to Train a Squirrel Dog!

Many squirrel dog enthusiasts have various ideas as to how to train a squirrel dog. It is my opinion that you should first start with good hunting bloodlines. This will increase your puppy’s chances in making a squirrel dog. The following should give you a few suggestions…

Step 1: Socialize the puppy early. Whether you pick the pup up at 6 weeks or 12 weeks old, give it as much human interaction as possible. If you have children allow them to play with the puppy as much as possible. This is truly the fastest method to socializing a puppy.

Step 3: Next around 8 to 12 weeks old work on basic obedience and by all means get the puppy used to wearing a collar and work on breaking it to walk on a leash. If you do this early you will save yourself many future headaches while in the woods hunting!

Step 4: Around the age of 12 to 14 weeks old start taking the puppy on short walks through the woods 10 to 30 minutes tops. This allows the puppy to get what I call “Woods Wise”. Woods Wise is nothing more than becoming familiar and comfortable with all the different sights, sounds, and smells the woods has to offer. It also makes a huge difference in the pup’s overall maturity.

Step 5: Around the age of 3 to 6 months old start laying drags and fooling with the pup with squirrel tails, hides or dead squirrels. Utilize this time to get the pup looking up trees at the tail, hide or dead squirrel. Once the pup starts barking treed on these move on to the next step. There are many different methods that can be used to get the puppy “looking up”…

Step 6: Caged squirrel. This step can be skipped if the puppy has already barked up at a wild squirrel. I personally do not like using caged game as a training method, but it can be useful if you have limited resources as to getting the pup into an area where there is squirrels. Anyway, trap and place a live squirrel in a cage and set the caged squirrel in an elevated location like a stump, picnic table, brush, etc…. Casually walk your pup near the area where the caged squirrel is located. This will allow the pup to locate the caged squirrel on it’s own. As the pups curiosity gets the best of it it will move in closer to check it out! At this time the sight and smell of the squirrel will excite the pup. Once the pup starts barking at the caged squirrel, then pet on him and encourage him. You can also do this with the caged squirrel having a rope tied to it. The rope will allow you to raise the squirrel up a tree so you can get the pup barking up. Once the pup consistently barks treed on a caged squirrel hung up a tree move on to the next step. Please be careful to never overdo the caged squirrel! Once or twice is plenty!!

Step 7: Catch and Release! Turn a caged squirrel loose in an area where the squirrels choices of trees are limited and let the pup chase it and HOPEFULLY tree it. If it does tree, then reward the pup with treats and praises. Be careful and never release a caged squirrel more than a couple of times!

Step 8: From the ages of 5 to 6 months on it is nothing but “Woods Time”. Woods Time is nothing more than actually hunting the pup! This is the key ingredient to making a squirrel dog. Everything else is just tips and tricks to expedite the training process… Good Luck!!

Please note: All of the ages above can vary a great deal, depending on the progress of your pup. Always keep in mind you are basically dealing with a child so don’t place too much on them too early. Allow the puppy to be a puppy. If it’s in him it will come out…I have said it before and I will say it again, “I have never been able to teach a dog to hunt or tree. I can only give it the opportunity to do what it was bred to do. Handling, obedience, and bad habits I can work on, but the pup’s instincts and bloodline will take care of the rest”. There again this is all my personal opinions and nothing else. This is just what works for me… Hope this helps.

HAPPY Hunting!