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Discussion Starter #1
So I'm looking for some advice from the houndspeople (wanna be correct here ;) ) who keep rabbits for training. What breed of rabbits are you using, and what do you do with the bunnies when you aren't training a pup? I have a pup right now who hasn't started yet and I just haven't been able to get him in front of any wild cottontails. Now with the weather and work... it isn't looking good for time for me. So I am thinking about using my garden as a training pen and getting a bunny or two to train with, but I have the problem of not being sure what type to use or what to do with them afterward! Advice?
 

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First off I am not a professional trainer so I may not know the best method, but I can tell you what worked for me with the beagle I have now. I watched pennswoods.com and craigslist for someone wanting to get rid of their rabbits. I was lucky enough to find someone who had two they wanted to give away with pen included. I went and got them. They were lops (I don't think the breed really matters that much, IMO). At home I fenced in a small area only 8' x 12' in my garden. I would put the rabbits in the fence and walk the pup around the outside. She could see and smell them and really want to get to them....barking, etc. I never put her in with the rabbits, only around the perimeter. After I put them back in their pen I would let her inside the fence to smell the fresh scent.

The second phase was putting a collar on a rabbit. I would use a long pole with leash on one end and me holding the other. I would lead the rabbit around my yard (out of sight of the pup). I used the pole so I could tell if the pup was tracking the rabbit or me. They like to cheat. I put the rabbit in a wire box trap at the end of the trail. Then let the pup loose to follow the trail and find the bunny. After just a few of these sessions she was opening up and it was a smooth transition into chasing the wild bunnies.

As far as what to do with the rabbits when you're done with them do like I did. Find a relative or friend who has kids and ask the kids if they want a rabbit. Then they bug the parents until they give in. That's what I did and now my sister's kids are proud owners of two lops. My sister and brother-in-law weren't too happy, but they still have them.

Another tip: If you go this route, place your rabbit pen in your garden, too. That way you get free fertilizer. Rabbits make a bunch of it. That was one of the selling points I used to get my sister to take them. :D
 

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I bought some at a local livestock auction. Cost about 6 bucks each. They didn't seem to run too well until they were in the starting pen for a few days.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Eight months :( He does at least try to chase the bunnies on our yard, but he won't open on a trail and the few times I've gotten him out he's been kind of lazy. I think it is inexperience; all the other pups out of his litter that went as hunting dogs seem to be running well, so I'm hoping I didn't just get a bad pup. I see the potential there, I am just worried I'm not going to be able to get the training time in and it will soon be too late for him to become an excellent dog.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
My dad said the same thing lol. Plus with the enclosed garden... I have plenty of friendly 'neighborhood' bunnies probably looking for a nice meal about now. As long as I let him go when I'm done that's not a problem, right?
 

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i have a started pup now ,he"s 1yr and 3 months What i do is shoot a rabbit on the jump and take it home and let pup smell and mess with it,then my son will hold him out of site and i drag the rabbit with a rope to a brush pile and hide it and we let him go and he "ll trail it to the brush pile its in. We repeat this for a couple weeks of course you have to freeze the rabbit toward the end of a couple weeks mine start opening up on the scent. I take him out in the field and try to jump bunnies and put him on them. I like to train him in summmer when all the rabbits are out in yard,easy to get him a chase. This method has worked for me, my pup opened up at 4months and brought his first one around at 6months
 

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Collierdeerhunter, good way to get a citation, I hope no one even thinks about what you posted. It would be an expensive training rabbit.
 

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Not sure but I believe if he has a trap set, properly name tagged, and not in some ones safety zone, a rabbit could be an incidental catch. Could have been skunk trapping or coon trapping. What he did with the rabbit after he caught it may be a problem , if someone saw him doing something wrong. I believe you can train on rabbits all year long, so if he released the rabbit and then he trained his dog with the same rabbit, I think it would be a stretch for a fine. As long as the rabbit was an incidental catch. Not sure though, if the rabbit is causing damage, he may be able to trap it anytime if it is causing damage. Not positive on any of it, may be a grey area.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Best to call the PGC on that one I suppose. Either way... I took him out on some fresh tracks this morning and he followed them a bit, so he is getting the general idea. I just need to get some consistent time in with him, get him really excited over the bunnies so he will want to chase them.
 

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bpottorff, those are the words of someone with no ethics looking for loopholes.
 

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Says the former GC employee always looking for a pinch instead of promoting our sport.
 

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Really don't have to look hard. I don't consider illegal activities promoting the sport.
 

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bpottorff, those are the words of someone with no ethics looking for loopholes.
Maybe you can quote the laws, and exactly what is illegal, and how the law would work. As for loop holes, if its not illegal, why try to call it a loophole? Surely if their were problems the game commission, would close such loop holes. I believe the game commission, back in the day, use to give out traps to catch and release rabbits from around homes. I thought it was so they could take them to more rural areas. I guess areas where you could hunt and train dogs. Has the law changed? At one time the game commission also put more focus on small game. I am asking because I do not know. I would imagine that with your past experience you could explain the law, instead of just talking of prosecution. There use to be a retired game warden on here named John S, not sure what happened to him, but he use to go into detail about laws, but sometimes he was not up to date on law changes. Some detail and guidance may help some one be more ethical, by your standards.
 

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There is a rabbit trapping permit from the PGC that is good from Jan through March The permits are to trap and release rabbits, not trap and run your dogs on them. Sportsmen's clubs and scout troops used to do a lot of winter trapping and releasing. There also are beagle clubs that have a permit from the PGC to have large fenced area and they could put a certain number of cottontails in the enclosures that were trapped under a permit to train their dogs, some propagate cottontails as well. The key word here is permit from the PGC. Lancaster Co is down to one permitted beagle club and I just heard they are talking abut selling their property. The OP may want to contact the PGC and see if there are any Beagle clubs in the Johnstown area. bpottorff, the op asked about the breed of domestic rabbits others used to train their dogs, not about trapping wild rabbits to use.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Yeah except they won't let me in cuz my pups aren't registered dogs; I'd love the opportunity to take them to a club, just won't happen! Oh well, I'll figure it out, even if I have to just wait for the bunny across the street to show up and hold the pup while he tries to chase.
 
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