How to Train a Bear Hunting Dog

There are two types of hunters in the world. Those that want to conquer nature in all its ferocity and those who settle for less. If you are one of those people who wish to face the wilderness head on, there is no more exhilarating hunt than a bear hunt.

They may look furious on the outside, but bears are mean killing machines. For hunters who are serious about tracking bears, there is no better way than with a well-trained obedient bear hunting dog.

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Choosing a breed

First off is to understand that certain dog breeds work best when hunting certain game. When it comes to bear hunting dogs, there are a number of good options. Though some hunters prefer to use Beagles, your best are the hunting hounds like Rhodesian ridgeback, English Coon Hounds, Plott Hounds, and others.

When choosing the best bear hunting dog, you need to take into account a dog’s stamina, ability to swim, aggressiveness, obedience, etc. If you want to turn your dog into a true hunting companion, you will need to train him. Here are some ideas on how to do it properly.

Basic Obedience

Now, first thing’s first. If you’re taking your dog out to hunt bears, you will need to make sure it doesn’t get hurt or wander away. He needs to be able to follow your command at all times, so that he would know when to chase, when to stop and when to move out of the way. Use the simple rewarding system to mark good behavior, but also don’t be afraid to use punishment to signify bad behavior. It might seem wrong to you, but your dog’s life may depend on his ability to follow commands.

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Nature Introduction

It is essential to let the dog get acquainted with the hunting area. Let him get a feel of it: the type of terrain, the smell of the trees and wildlife, lakes, ponds and whatever else is there. If he knows the environment, or at least recognizes some of its main features, he will be able to track down the game easier. However, this requires great dedication on your part. You will need to take him out to the area on a daily basis, which will also increase his stamina.

Other Dogs

When it comes to bear hunting dogs, according to the law, you are required to use a pack of six dogs. This is done so that dogs would be less likely to get hurt. When there are half a dozen of them, however aggressive the bear is, he will yield once he realizes he’s outnumbered. So in order for the dogs to function like a true pack, you need to let them socialize outside the hunt as well. If you’re set on training all of them, remember not to separate them. It is important for them to learn to work like a team.

Smaller Game

Training a bear hunting dog requires time. You can’t do it all at once and expect your little helper to know what’s what immediately. Some experts suggest taking your dog out to hunt smaller game first. The idea is to introduce him first to the very concept of hunting and tracking various animals. As he becomes better and better, change the game and let him improve at his own pace. Most of the professional bear hunting hounds have been carefully bred and trained for generations. We know you don’t have time for that, but do take it slow.

Trial Run

Finally, before letting your dog try the real thing, have a trial run. Take him with you on a hunting trip with other hunters who have more experienced bear hunting dogs. Keep your dog a little back from the pack on a leash so that he would get the feel of the actual hunting mechanism. Let him see the process from placing the baits, tracking the scent to cornering the bear or chasing him up a tree. Be careful not to let your dog slip away as he may be hurt by the cornered bear.

Training a bear hunting dog is no easy task. You have to show a great deal of dedication and your dog will follow. As they say, most dogs are reflections of their owners. So, set a good example for your hunting companion and you will get a powerful ally in your quest to conquer nature.

Photo credit: Plott Hound Wikimedia