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According to a survey conducted by fw.ky.gov, in 2015-16 hunters used 4,899 rabbit dogs to hunt 1,198 rabbits. We’re hoping to increase that! As this is a fantastic way of hunting and so much fun. So lets have a look into how you best get to hunting rabbits with your dog.
Ok so lets start with the obvious – how to choose the best rabbit hunting dog and train them the right way. Hunting for rabbits with dogs is just one exciting part of this ravishing sport. However, choosing the right rabbit dog that meets your needs is definitely not a job you should take lightly. From specific breeds to size to hunting styles, there are numerous intricate factors that you may need to consider before you incorporate a pup buddy in your hunting sessions.
In a nutshell, it’s best to choose a dog whose breed and upbringing are well-suited to hunting. As not all reputable hunting breeders meet a dog that will do well in your case. It takes years of training and patience to get your dog on the right track.
How much Does a Rabbit Dog Cost?
A really safe pick is going for Beagles as they really are the ideal dogs when it comes to rabbit hunting. Therefore, a normal hunting beagle would cost you in the range of $200 to $300..
What are the Best Rabbit Hunting Dogs
Generally, beagles are 13 – 16 inches long and weigh around 25 pounds which gives them a sense of dominance while they hunt. These intelligent dog breeds have a unique hunting style where they wobble around and manipulate the rabbit as the rabbit circles back home. In addition to that, beagles are highly bright, affectionate and friendly dogs which makes them an epitome of a family pet.
This short-legged hound stands 15 inches tall and weighs around 40 to 60 pounds. What differentiates them from the rest is their long floppy ears, droopy jowls and laid-back personality. Moreover, their high sense of smell and the ability to ground scent proves that they are originally bred for hunting purposes. They take a steady hunt approach where they move slowly enough that rabbits just jump forward, hardly keeping on. However, bassets are quite independent which makes it challenging to train them. But over time, with continued proper dog obedience training, you can get these hounds on the field for hunting.
According to the American Kennel Club, Redbones are kind at home but a vigorous tiger in the trail. They are 22 to 25 inches tall and 45 to pounds who are proven to be your great hunting companies with incredible noses. Not only do they hunt rabbits but coins at night as well. In short, they are the only all-rounder option that you could go for. All in all, with a little bit of investment in the beginning and training, you can have a multi-purpose hunting dog for the rest of your life.
Can I Train My Older Dog For Rabbit Hunting?
Yes, you can teach an older dog new advanced tricks, especially if they are motivated and physically fit to do so. However, it is inevitably a timely process which will require a lot of patience on your end. In order to teach an older dog how to hunt rabbits for you, and as part of a team you need to make sure they are free from any sickness and whether you see potential in them or not.
It’s important to bear in mind, as dogs age they develop certain health problems that can be triggered by severe physical activity. Hence, it might be wise to contact a veterinarian before you start training.
And once you have done all the necessary check-ups and your dog turns out just fine, you can start your training with baby steps then gradually increase the intensity level.
How to Train Your Rabbit Dogs For Hunting
As mentioned earlier, the key to excelling at rabbit hunting is to have the right hunting dog with the right training. As we have covered everything about choosing the right dog, it’s time we talk about giving the appropriate rabbit hunting training to your dogs.
So follow along!
Train Your Dog With Basic Commands
According to a well-known site for hunting Outdoor Life you should start training your puppy for hunting when it’s about 8-11 weeks old. Once your pup has reached that age, start off by teaching your dog some basic commands like “stay”, “sit” and “bark” to gain a sense of dominance over your dog.
Use Rabbit Skin
As soon as your puppy learns the basics, you can begin with your rabbit hunting seasons. You can make them get aware of the rabbit’s smell and fur by letting them play with rabbit skin or a piece of rabbit that you killed in your last hunt. Later, you can get creative and include other games that involve them to follow the trail of the rabbits’ scent.
Practice With An Actual Rabbit
Once your pup takes an interest in the scent of a rabbit, you can make them practice with actual rabbits around the neighborhood. During this stage, make sure your dog first sees the rabbit first to make it easier for them to search and chase. Gradually, you can increase the level by solely relying on the rabbit’s scent and leave your puppy to chase them only by their nose. However, this process may take several tries before your puppy can properly keep track of the rabbit. It’s important to make sure that you frequently treat your puppy to improve its motivation throughout the training.
Short Practice Sessions in the Bush
After several weeks of basic training, your puppy is good to go on its own. The safest way to do this is to only hunt a small area where you know rabbits are abundant and other animals are not. We usually ensure a good search area by seeing a rabbit dive into the brush and releasing our puppy nearby. At this point, the puppy should be able to run a rabbit for several minutes at a time.
Take your Dog to The Hunting Field
Once your dog is eventually made this habit you can take it on the actual field for around 10-20 minutes and begin to run your pup with other rabbit hunting dogs. However, assure that you are giving plenty of solo time for your puppy to enjoy and to avoid potential burn out in the future.
To make the most out of your rabbit hunting, bear in mind that no dog breeds are born perfect hunting dogs. Where some need practice in abundance others are relatively easy to train. Best tip we can give you is to go for one of the listed breeds and go visit the breeder and make sure the parents are really good hunting dogs for rabbits, then with the right training you will have a fantastic dog! best of luck.
For more reading we have an in-depth guide in how to hunt squirrels with dogs.
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36 years old, been hunting and fishing my entire life – love the outdoors, family, and all kinds of hunting and fishing! I have spent thousands of hours hunting hogs and training hunting dogs, but I’m always learning new stuff and really happy to be sharing them with you! hit me up with an email in the contact form if you have any questions.