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Wild mushroom hunting

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Gethyn, Oct 7, 2020.


  1. Gethyn

    Gethyn PetForums Junior

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    Hello all. This one is probably coming from pretty far left field.

    I have an 8 month old pointer/bodeguero andaluz Cross who is developing into a fine dog and a wonderful companion, thanks in part to advice received from this very forum.

    Anyway, its almost wild mushroom season here in catalonia. We love going out to find them in autumn and would love to involve the dog in the process.

    I know that in Italy trained dogs and pigs are used to hunt for truffles. I was thinking of trying it with Bonny.

    I imagined him sniffing them out, and barking to alert us to his finds. No idea how to go about this though. No idea how to make him bark either as he very seldom does so and am wary of encouraging that particular behaviour out of this context.

    It's a bit pie in the sky but I thought I might throw it out there...

    Thanks in advance for any tips
     
  2. Sarah H

    Sarah H Grand Empress of the Universe

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    Usually for this sort of thing you want to train using something the dog does more naturally. So the usual one for a find is a freeze indication (this could be a sit, down or stand and freeze). As a pointer I'd have thought a nice standing freeze with nose on target would be good, rather than a bark which will be hard to teach if it's not natural to him.
    You need to teach several things separately before even thinking about getting him searching for the mushrooms.
    1) the indication (teaching a freeze on target)
    2) the search (actually using their nose in a methodical way)
    3) positive association with each different odour you want him to find (each mushroom will smell different)
    Once you have all 3 things then you start to build the search with the odour, then once they are clearly looking for the right thing you build the indication into it, adding distractions along the way.
    This won't take a few days with a novice dog, this is months of training usually, so maybe train him for next year rather than this year? You can get him involved in the process this year by showing him the mushrooms and rewarding him when he sniffs them, that sort of thing, but a true scent dog will need a bit more training to get to a good level! Mind you, he might be a natural and help you out easily!
     
    Gethyn and Torin. like this.
  3. Gethyn

    Gethyn PetForums Junior

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    Hi Sarah. Thanks for the thoughtful reply.

    You know I hadn't even thought it, but it would make much more sense to train him to point rather than bark. As I mentioned he's not a full blooded pointer but he has that instinct to lift a paw and point. He does it when he's sensing the presence of prey (or maybe hoping for it).

    I figure it will take time to join all the dots, as you say a multi step approach is the only way here. He's a bright boy though so if there's an abundance of mushrooms he may get there in a year or two.

    I guess I should get on YouTube for videos on training the point. Thanks a good place to start.

    Again, thanks for the advice!
     
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