While it might be getting too late in the year for finding sheds, it’s not too late to spend some time with your dog in the backyard teaching him what to do for next year. Although there were a lot of deer dropping antlers late this year, and there’s a chance that the legion of turkey hunters could have missed a shed or two, so it might not be a bad idea to get back out there. You could even find some mushrooms while you’re at it.
But if you want to search for sheds with your favorite four-legged-friend, here are a few tips from Tom Dokken at Dokken’s Shed Dog Trainer that he shared with us during a recent episode of Northland Outdoors Radio. (www.ShedDogTrainer.com)
AGE DOESN’T MATTER
“The younger you do it, the easier it is to do,” Tom Dokken said. While it may be easier to teach young dogs new tricks, it doesn’t mean that the older dogs can’t figure it out. “My first dogs that I trained to do it were 5 and 6 years old. These were dogs that already had some hunting dog training for birds and we just kinda started the process. It’s really easier than most people think.” Just like any training, if you spend enough time with your dog and do it the right way, you should be able to teach him to find bone.
BREED DOESN’T MATTER
“Have a dog with good retrieving desire,” Dokken added. “It doesn’t have to be a retriever breed, in fact there are dogs that run the North American Shed Hunting Dog Association trials series that aren’t retrievers, but a dog with a strong retriever instinct is important. When a dog does find a shed out there, they’re going to pick it up and come back with it, otherwise a lot of times you won’t even see a dog find something. ” As long as Fido knows that you want him to bring something to you, antlers should come naturally.
“Just think of that antler as a training dummy or a tennis ball,” Dokken explained. “All it is, is an object for your dog to pick and retrieve. As a fun play game, I’ll take a piece of antler around six inches long, I’ll cut the tines off so there’s no sharp points on it and we’ll just play some fetch. So instead of taking the dummy out, we’ll just start them retrieving that antler. ”
Once your dog is an shed hunting champ, you can take it to the competitive level if you want with NASHDA, the North American Shed Hunting Dog Association. Trials are starting up May 21st, with qualifying events taking place all over the Northland up until next spring, with the World Championship at Oak Ridge Kennels in Northfield next April. To learn more, visit www.sheddogtrainer.com.
To hear more tips from Tom Dokken, including breaking some bad habits from last fall so your dog will be ready to go this year, click here.