A well-trained rabbit hunting dog is very near to being worth its weight in gold. Having an animal that knows and does its job on a regular basis can make the difference between a hunting expedition that goes smoothly and one that leaves you frazzled and potentially unsuccessful. Because of this, many of us put great effort into training our dogs so that we can be greatly rewarded with the outcome in the field.
Training rabbit dogs is a serious matter, but training a dog should not begin and end exclusively in the woods. Even the best rabbit dogs need work outside of a hunt setting to be manageable overall. Even if you kennel your rabbit dogs and they live outdoors, it is still important to impart upon them certain acceptable behaviors. The goal of all dog owners, regardless of the purpose their dogs serve, should be to create good canine citizens. This is vital for the most basic of reasons, such as being able to provide care to these animals. If you have unruly dogs who do not cooperate or respond to basic commands, the most routine dog care tasks can become difficult for both parties.
Things such as clipping claws, bathing, and grooming should be done without much fuss on the part of your dog. It does not stop there, however, as it is also necessary that you can care for an injured dog or take that animal to the vet without worry that it will resist being treated. It is because of these needs that there are a basic set of ground rules with which every dog should be acquainted in order to get through life regardless of life purpose. Because of this, there are 5 basic obedience behaviors every rabbit dog should know:
1. Coming when called is necessary should your dog get off track and need to be reined back in to a point where he or she once again responds to you. Whether your dog loses focus on a hunt or escapes your yard and takes to running down a busy road, it should be possible to get your dog back on task and where he or she needs to be with the command of your choice. In order to achieve a solid come, your dog will need to be accustomed to being called by name and familiar with the command you give. It is a good plan to start this training while still on the leash.
2. Speaking of leashes, leash training is another vital practice your dog should understand. It may be possible that you will need to utilize this when going to the vet or in the presence of other people and animals. Some dogs will object to leash walking and will need acclimation training. While you're at it, incorporating stairs is a wise plan of action as well.
Photo: Beagle Happy
3. Staying on command is useful when you need your dog to wait in a certain area or position until an appropriate time to move arrives. By teaching your dog to stay, you have less worry that he will take it upon himself to disappear at an inopportune time to do as he pleases. This is particularly useful in exciting situations as it will give your dog time to calm down and focus.
4. Getting and staying down on command is the mark of a good canine citizen, especially in settings where strangers may be present. Not everyone you meet in life is going to be a fan of dogs and you do not want to allow your dog to impose upon their personal space. Whether it is another hunter in the field or simply a neighbor you see on the street, your dog should know not to jump on that person.
Photo: Windy Hill Beagles
5. Touch tolerance is something that may be necessary to reinforce with certain dogs. Some dogs will never object to being touched anywhere for any purpose, but others will have certain spots they object to being touched. For example, I have a dog that does not like his paws touched. Without proper training, this could lead to a big production when it comes time to clip claws, but after familiarizing him with touch the process is much easier on both of us.
Photo: Dog Obedience Training Review
There are other standard obedience behaviors you can and should incorporate into the lives of your rabbit dogs. I'm a believer in being able to ask for a specific front paw as if to shake because once that paw is given to me, it makes claw clipping a breeze. Laying down and rolling over are other helpful behaviors when it comes to things such as tick checks. Some helpful training tips can be found here.
Are there any obedience behaviors you require your dogs to learn? How do you train and reinforce those behaviors? Let us know in the comments.