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How to Train a Dog to Squirrel Hunt: The Tail Chase

Need to learn how to train a dog to squirrel hunt?

Training a good squirrel dog to tree a squirrel the way you want it to is a challenge. This is especially true of hunters who have little experience with that kind of dog training. You can't just buy a purpose-bred dog and expect it to know how to trail and tree a squirrel on its own - it just doesn't work that way.

You can buy a dog that has an excellent treeing bloodline and his or her parents may be champions, but that doesn't mean you won't have to put in the time and effort to turn that eager little pup into a quality, working squirrel dog.

So, what do you do if you've never trained a squirrel dog but you're anxious to give it a shot?

Don't worry; it can be done. You can train a good squirrel dog even if you've never done it before. Once you know a few simple tricks and tips to training, it won't take long for you to tell if the pup you're working with is going to be a top hunting dog or just a family pet.

Good hunting dogs help you train them and by working together, the two of you can develop a relationship guaranteed to help you bag your limit of squirrels.

One method, which should be incorporated into a fuller training regimen, and not presumably used as the only method used, is the squirrel tail chase.

Puppies love to play chase. It is part of their nature to want to chase and attack (playfully, of course) whatever appears to be running from them. One of the first methods you should try when teaching a young pup about squirrel hunting is to use the squirrel tail chase method. This method refers to the act of tying a squirrel tail to a piece of sturdy string or rope and using it as a scent creator.

How It Works

How the idea works is that by dragging the tail along the ground and up a tree without the puppy being able to see the act, you are creating a scent trail for the pup to follow. Once you've pulled the tail along the ground (in a zigzag or random pattern), find a tree with a semi-low hanging limb. Tie the tail to the limb (high enough so the pup can't reach it). Afterwards, remove the pup from his holding area (out of sight of the drag trail and activities). Call him to the area where you used the drag and see what happens.

Ideally, he or she will find the scent trail left by the squirrel tail and follow it to the tree where you've tied the tail. A good pup will naturally find the trail and follow it. However, some need to be coached. Encourage the pup when he drops his head to the trail, whether he is just passing over it or becomes curious and starts to follow it.

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Be patient with him and when he makes his way to the tree where the tail is located, work with him on barking treed at the tail. You want him to be excited that he found the tail up a tree. If need be, reward the pup every few seconds as he focuses his attention on the tail up a tree. Every time he lunges for it or barks at it, reward him. If he starts to lose interest, call him back. You don't want a dog to think it is okay to leave a treed squirrel until he's given permission.

The methods and tips listed here are just the beginning. It takes a lot of time and effort to train a quality squirrel dog. However, it can be done regardless of your training experience level. Once you've found the right dog and commit to patient, thorough training, you're well on your way to one of the most fun, exciting hunts imaginable.

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How to Train a Dog to Squirrel Hunt: The Tail Chase