English springer spaniel originally was used to flush out
game, mostly waterfowl, that was often then pursued by the
smaller, closely related
cocker spaniel. Today, English springer spaniels are known
as waterfowl hunters, but they can be enthusiastic and skilled
rabbit hunters as well. With some basic obedience and field training in
place, English springer spaniels can learn to hunt rabbits
effectively and quickly.
Start training your English Springer spaniel early. Rabbit
hunting requires a type of training that is more advanced than
basic obedience. Basic obedience training should come first, so
that the dog has a basic knowledge of following commands before
learning rabbit-hunting commands. Start obedience with your puppy at around 2 to
3 months of age. The English Springer Spaniel Field Trial
Association also recommends that dogs undergo some basic field
training prior to working as hunting dogs, saying "A springer
with basic obedience training and some introductory field
training will be able to fulfill most hunters’ desires."
Teach the 'Hup' Command
The "Hup" command is important for the English springer spaniel
to learn, because it teaches the dog control. While the natural
exuberance of the breed might push the dog to bound ahead too
early in pursuit of the prey, the well-trained English springer
spaniel should know how to hold a position until given the
release command. "Hup" is a hunting command that simply tells
the dog to sit in place and hold the sit until released.
Learn with Rabbits
Your English springer spaniel may never have seen a rabbit
before, so it is important to educate the dog about how a
rabbit looks, smells and behaves. Introduce your dog to rabbits
in a non-hunting situation: If possible, in an area where there
are wild rabbits similar to those you will be hunting. Allow
your English springer spaniel to chase the rabbits. This
exercise will be valuable in the future, because the dog will
know exactly what to hunt.
Follow Experienced Dogs
Your English springer spaniel can learn a lot about hunting
rabbits by following the best teachers of all: experienced
rabbit-hunting dogs. Prior to your young dog's solo
rabbit-hunting debut, take the dog along on a hunt with
experienced dogs. The more experienced dogs don't necessarily
have to be older English springer spaniels: Beagles are often
used in rabbit hunting, and other breeds such as greyhounds and
Weimaraners also are skilled rabbit hunters. When your English
springer spaniel follows the experienced dogs, newly learned
hunting skills will become easier and more instinctive.
Taking Care of Your Gun Dog
For an avid hunter, a dog is both a hunting companion and a
trusted family member. Hunting dogs require additional training
and care. It is crucial that you take a healthy dog to a hunt.
It is your responsibility to keep the dog safe before, during,
and after the hunting trip. A healthy and well-kept dog leads
to a successful hunt and plenty of game.
It is vital that you schedule periodic appointments with your
veterinarian. Most canines must have one checkup every year.
Hunting dogs must visit the veterinarian at least twice a year.
These dogs encounter multiple hostile elements like injury
prone terrain and insects. It is vital to keep a lookout so
that accidents and untoward events do not happen. It is vital
that the dog is vaccinated and if possible, secure the animal
against Lyme disease too. Do give the canine its monthly
medication to keep tick and fleas at bay. Same goes for
heartworm medication. Consult your veterinarian on this issue.
Periodic checkups are a must if you own a senior dog. Many
health problems like kidney ailments, diabetes, and thyroid
problems develop swiftly over time. Older dogs may suffer from
painful arthritis. These pains in their joints will need extra
Diet and exercise
A proper diet is a must for any hunting dog. The canine
requires a nutritious diet which will fill him with energy. It
means you should give it food rich in calories which the dog
can burn to be active when hunting and also stay warm. Feed
your gun dog nutrient dense food to maximize dairy intake. The
food should have a high-fat content. Experts recommend that
hunting dogs be given foods with 20 percent fat content. Ideal
fat content must balance the Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.
Hunting dogs must be given a rich animal protein diet and not a
diet full of grains and starches. Ensure that your dog drinks
adequate amounts of water. Hunting is a tedious activity and
the dog will be thirsty. Carry water with you.
As an owner, it is important that you regularly exercise the
dog. It is specifically vital for hunting dogs. This exercise
is above and beyond the standard exercise regimen which other
dogs follow. Your dog must be sufficiently fit to hunt in the
wild. In case your hunting dog becomes fat, it is important to
put the canine into an accelerated training program so that the
canine gets into shape. An obese dog cannot hunt properly. The
dog loses its ability to control breathe while it sniffs for
the needed animal scent. An obese dog will be out of breath and
will have a much tougher time keeping on to the tracks of the
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