Hunting season is over. Winter is in full swing. Cabin fever has set in. Ever wonder how you’ll survive the rest of a long, cold, gloomy winter? Do you and your four legged friend crave some crisp Winter air? If you can relate to any of these statements, shed hunting might just be for you!
I started shed training and hunting with my Labs about 2 years ago. We were all feeling cooped up and needed to burn off some energy. What better way to do that, than a walk in the woods!
Shed hunting, in my opinion, is pretty simple. I believe you can train any breed of dog to find sheds for you. From Retrievers, to Poodles, and Border Collies, and everything in between, it can be done!
Here are some easy tips for you to get started:
- Make it fun for your pooch! I reccomend using a shed you already have, or you can purchase one online, or at most outdoor retail stores. Start by introducing the antler shed to your dog. Let him sniff it out, and hold it in his mouth. Praise your dog and get them amped up as if they just did the best thing imaginable.
- Start in your yard and play some good old fashioned fetch with Fido. I always associate a word or phrase with the antler. Some people use, “hunt it up”, “find it”, “shed”, or “bone”. You can use any phrase or word you want. This just helps the dog associate the phrase with what task you want him to go out and do for you.
- Once your dog gets the hang of it, start hiding, or planting a shed when hes not looking. Use your word or phrase and put Fido to the test! I wouldnt recommend planting a shed in a crazy spot. Think of where a big whitetail goes. Sometimes antlers drop in the middle of a field, bottom of a tree, along a fence line, even on the edge of a trail, just for some ideas. Don’t make it complicated, and most importantly, don’t forget to praise your pooch for every time they find a shed.
- Lastly, hit the woods, stay consistent, and have fun! It’s as simple as that. Oh, and dress warm! You wont always go out and find sheds, but you’ll never know what you’ll find or see by sitting on the couch. I usually take a shed out with me and plant it for my dogs as a reward for them. This will keep them interested and motivated to keep hunting for more.
I have really enjoyed introducing this sport to my furry friends, and they love it too. Since I started 2 years ago, we have been actively competing in both N.A.S.H.D.A. and UKC Elite Shed Dog Trials. It’s fun for the whole family, and what better way to take in the great outdoors, and stay conditioned during the off season.