How to Hunt Rabbits With English Springer Spaniel

How to Hunt Rabbits With English Springer Spaniel

The English springer spaniel is an avid hunter, and with basic obedience and field training combined, they can learn to hunt rabbits quickly and effectively.

The 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.

Train Early

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 huntersโ€™ 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.

Regular veterinary appointments

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 medications.

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 hunted animal.

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