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So I was lucky enough to get 2 rabbits on the day before the season ended (no dog just walking a Christmas tree farm with the boys) I kept the legs off one of the rabbits zip tied them together and attached a long piece of rope. My beagle is now almost 5 months old, I've been working with him in the yard just dragging the legs around. I started with real close trails and now I've been going around almost the whole yard (I have an acre) and he follows the scent pretty well. He still loses it from time to time but he does the circle and always ends up back on it. He has not opened up yet, and I've been walking him to where I started the scent to make sure he gets on it. Is it time for me to just let him lose and have him find it on his own? I usually keep him in the garage until I'm done and then I walk him to the area I started, should I just let him walk on his own as if we were hunting? Also, at what point do you guys start getting your dog used to gun shots? Mine has not heard on yet, he seems ok with noises he hears in the house. I had read about dropping books on the floor when the dog isn't paying attention and things like that, I don't want to over do it and end up scaring him. Any other training tips would be greatly appreciated!!
 

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I got a bird dog ten years ago. I am not an expert but here is how I introduced the dog to gunshots. I picked this up from a book by Jerome Robinson who was the gun dog editor for Field & Stream.

Every time I fed the dog, I clapped my hands or banged pots together. I started at a distance so the dog heard it, but had no reaction. I kept getting closer. I made sure that she keep eating when I made the noise. Then I got a cap gun and did the same thing: fired the gun at a distance and got closer making sure the dog never left her food. The purpose of this is to train the dog that a sudden loud noise is to be associated with something good.

When the dog is older and out training, take along a gun. A 20 gauge shotgun or a 22 pistol would be best. You don't want a very loud gun. Let the dog start trailing a rabbit. When it is far off, fire the gun. If the dog ever reacts to the shot, back off the next time. You never want the dog to get scared at a gunshot. Once a dog becomes afraid of a gunshot, you have a major problem because it is harder to fix a learned behavior. If the dog is concentrating on the rabbit scent, it is less likely to be affected by the gunshot.

Good luck.
 

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Just another method from the peanut gallery.

When I got Tessa we walked the secluded area near home along the Delaware River with my .22 revolver. I let her get out ahead of me and fired a CB cap when she wasn,t looking. She spun at the sound of the report to gauge my reaction, (very important), and I acted like nothing happened.

The first day was three well spaced CB shots into the ground, and a few days later we returned with .22shorts, then flollowed that trip with longs, then lr....
Three years later, and a whole bunch of groundhogs, Tessa lays alongside me on the edge of a hedgerow anxiously awaiting the rifle report and the command to retrieve the hog.

A little at a time, and dont show a negative reaction.
 

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I'm no expert either but your pup sounds old enough to take on some walks where you will encounter some live rabbits. He sounds like he really uses his nose which is great. I'm lucky to have a nice tree line in my back yard with some rabbits. I take the pup to a spot where I just saw a rabbit and see what the pup does. Usually instincts take over and they get excited start wagging their tail and even give excited yips or start opening up. To me its all about getting them out a lot chasing rabbits and keeping it fun for the pup. My last pup started opening up right about 5 months but I had a great dog that really didn't start until he was about 8 months. They will start when they are ready.
 

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A tame rabbit would work to start him. I break mine to gun shots at 8 weeks or before. When that young pups have little fear. Being yours is older I would go slow, everything is based on their reaction to the shot, as how to proceed.
 

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You could also work on his retrieving skills, if he has any. Tease him with a rabbit head, and throw it a short distance, if he picks it up try to call him to you with it. Then keep repeating. Some dogs will retrieve, some will not. Some retrieve when they are a pup, and then while rabbit hunting will not. A retrieving beagle will find some rabbits that you think were missed.
 

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When training my Lab for the gun. I would take to a place she liked to retrieve dummies, throw a couple into the lake to get her going, have a buddy shoot for a distance with a 20 gauge from maybe 50 yds while the bird was in the air. She only took her eyes off the bird for the first shot. Don't shock or scare them, have them doing something fun and start from a distance. Now deer and beagles are another story, a old beagle guy had a trick he found that was a one time deal. he would hang a couple deer legs, wired together over a electric fence and let the pups loose. when they found them, they never ran a deer the rest of their life. 12 years or so.
 

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I used to box trap a rabbit and release it into the basement. bring the pup down and let him find it. when puppy started chasing it good, i'd open the basement door and let them run. of course I was single then, don't know if the wife would put up with that now!
 

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I'm a member of a beagle club so we have rabbits on our grounds.Mine either started in our starting pen or out on wild rabbits.Try a live trapped wild rabbit.Let it close when you release it.It should get them excited enough to open up.We have a beagle trial this weekend Saturday and Sunday.Norther Lancaster Co.Fish and Game right on 897 before Middlecreek .Visitors are welcome!
 

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I do not think your dog will open up on cold scent, he is ready to chase live rabbits. Find a place where it is safe to let the dog loose and has rabbits sitting on the edge of the woods, show him as many rabbits as you can, let him sight chase them, he will naturally put his head down when he looses the sight. You can also walk him in the brush and when you jump a rabbit call him over and say rabbit, rabbit, rabbit and put his nose where the rabbit was, his instincts will take over. My last dog broke at 4 months and she was circling rabbits at 6 months.

use the hallway in your house to teach retrieving, sit at the one end where the pup has to come back out, take a rolled up sock and throw it down the other end, the dog will pick it up and bring it back. keep doing this a bunch of times. I only did this with my last dog and she does retrieve for me... not sure if it works or I got lucky with her, but worth a try.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I was thinking about trying to get him a sight chase and still working with the legs for a bit yet. Once this snow melts anyway. I like the cap gun idea to for inside the house my kids have around 600 cap guns. I don't have a 22 pistol but I do have a 22lr that I can take along for a walk to shoot while he is chasing.

410-er I just recently moved to Womelsdorf so I am not all that far from where your trial is, maybe if time and wife allows it I will be able to check it out this weekend!

Thanks everyone for the tips!! I will keep you guys updated on my progress!!
 

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I would like to offer a couple suggestions about your training.

(1) - I personally never liked just shooting, even a cap gun, unless the dog was busy working on rabbit scent. I always wanted them to associate a gun shot with chasing game, which is something they enjoy. Random shooting or noise making doesn't accomplish that. If you shoot when they eat they will start to associate shooting with eating or whatever the activity and not hunting. When we are hunting rabbits and fire a shot my dog goes into overdrive because she knows that means game is nearby. This is just my preference.

(2) You also said you don't have a pistol and was planning to carry a rifle to shoot on your walks. I don't believe that is legal to do in Pa. This is right from the dog training regs: "A person may not carry a rifle, shotgun or bow and arrows
while training dogs."


Good luck training your pup! I think it's about as much fun training as the actual hunting.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks Zeke I think I will give that a try next time I am working with him in the yard. That definitely makes sense about having them associate the gun shot with the actual chase!
 

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Years back we would box trap rabbits and drop them into the dog kennel with the beagle, never knew a rabbit could squeeze thru that small of an opening! Also the neighbor had a pile of old drainage pipes that the rabbits would set in during the day and we would pickup 1 end and slide the rabbit right out in front of the pup. Also tried dragging a fresh road kill that wasn't tore up too bad on the end of a rope.
 

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A good hound not only has to learn the cultivation of hunting courage, but also to receive a series of training techniques for hunting skills. This will be a systematic project.
 

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There is a big difference when they are all fired up running a rabbit vs just hanging out when a loud noise happens. Just get him around loud noises but don't scare him...

As far as gun shots ...you ARE NOT shooting toward the dog or jump shooting when hunting...most of the time the dog is 20 - 40 yards behind the rabbit and you CHOOSE to shoot the rabbit when its not between you and the dog or someone else....which 9 times out of 10 is a passing shot

I do what another pilgrim suggests "every time I fed the dog, I clapped my hands or banged pots together. I started at a distance so the dog heard it, but had no reaction. I kept getting closer. I made sure that she keep eating when I made the noise."

I find the best way to train is to drop them down with mature dogs. Solo training works.. but young dogs pick it up quicker learning from older dogs.
I live in Leesport and run my beagles at blue marsh often... hit me up if you want to meet up
 
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