Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Puppy Introduction to Quarry

Wooden bars are better on teeth than metal. 

This little fellow was released unharmed.

At some point the puppies have to see, smell, and learn to bay a live critter in a controlled situation.

I normally use squirrels for this as they are easy to catch, and if they are a little freaked out by the experience of being so close to a dog, I am more than OK with that, as my yard squirrels need to learn to lay off my bird feeders at least a little bit.

I set the box trap Sunday night, as I often catch squirrels early in the morning, but in this case it was a possum. We don't get a lot of possums, probably because we have so many fox, plus neighborhood dogs are hard on them. In any case this guy was easily transferred to a pet carrier, given a meal of grapes, sunflower seeds, and raw peanuts, and set aside for a little after-work dog training before he was let go right where he was caught. He was very inanimate quarry - I much prefer squirrels. Maybe tomorrow with them.

The dogs did about as expected for their first time seeing quarry -- they sniffed, walked around the crate, and then began to bark, quickly building up confidence as they came to understand that this was OK in this situation.

Two or three more practice runs with squirrels, and the penny should drop enough that they will be ready to start digging through mulch and dirt in the tunnel in order to get to the squirrel at the other end of the pipe.

Slowly, slowly, we give experience and build confidence and brain power. These are very young dogs. No one ever ruined a dog by entering them too slowly, or a month late.

Below, the pups can be seen messing about in a hollow tree on our daily walks.

A little kibble tossed into hollow logs, trees, and holes teaches them to explore to find rewards. Soon the scent of quarry will be all the reward they will ever want or need.


jeffrey thurston said...

I used to catch squirrels and let my dogs mess with the cage or use it for tunnel training but they get so excited that even after the squirrel's released they mess with the empty cage for what seems like hours. The scruffy wire-haired bloodied his mouth gnawing on the steel cage with his vice-grip-of-death mouth. He's a hard-mouthed killer type. My little smoothie acts like a JRTs supposed to- he makes a lot of noise and is relentless but smart enough to know when the squirrel's gone. He willingly goes down any culvert or tunnel now and digs like crazy for rats. Your little male is beautiful BTW.

5string said...

I was trying to trap a destructive armadillo but ended up with a rabbit. I thought it would be great to spark the prey drive in my young male Ratty.
Now I know baiting is controversial but I was going to kill the rabbit anyway, so I unloaded the rabbit into the dog's pen with him in there already. A little chase, some slow, light bites around the rib cage, it was a slow death compared to how fast they kill them now. Lots of sniffing of the fresh kill, then he started humping the thing... well, in his defense it was a female!