Master the Art of Shed Hunting Training With Your Dog

With hunting season over, most avid hunters look forward to the annual activity of shed hunting. This sport involves searching for shed antlers from deer, elk, and moose. While shed hunting can be a great way to spend time outdoors and get some exercise, it can be even more enjoyable when your canine companion joins the adventure. In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn how to train your dog to master the art of shed hunting.

Understanding Shed Hunting

Every year, antlered animals such as deer and elk shed their antlers between January and April. Hunters, nature lovers, and outdoor enthusiasts often pick up these shed antlers for crafting, decoration, and even training hunting dogs. It’s a practice that is heavily regulated in some areas to ensure the natural process is not disrupted.

Shed Hunting Dog Breeds

Just as different breeds excel at different sports, there are breeds that are naturally more equipped for shed hunting. The best shed hunting dog breeds include Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Bloodhounds, and German Shepherds. However, any dog breed that loves to exercise its nose and has a natural retrieving instinct can be a potential shed hunting star!

Training Your Dog for Shed Hunting

Start with Basic Training

Before you even introduce shed hunting to your dog, they should have a firm grasp of basic obedience skills, including sit, stay, come and fetch. These commands are crucial for the safety of your dog during training sessions and actual shed hunting.

Introduction to Sheds

Once your dog has mastered the basic commands, it’s time to introduce them to an antler. Let them become familiar with the look, smell, and texture of a shed. Remember, it’s crucial to ensure this introduction is a positive experience for your dog.

Begin the Retrieval Training

After your dog is well-acquainted with the antler, you can move on to training them to retrieve it. Start by throwing the antler a short distance and encourage your dog to fetch it. As they get better, gradually increase the distance.

Scent Training

In the wild, sheds will not be as easy to find as in your backyard, they will often be hidden among tall grass, trees, and bushes. That’s why it’s crucial to train your dogs to use their sense of smell to seek out the sheds. To do this, take advantage of commercial scents or natural bone marrow.

Important Tips on Shed Hunting Training

Patience is Key

Training a dog to master shed hunting takes time. Each dog learns at its own pace. The most crucial tip is to be patient, make the training sessions fun, and always reward good behavior.

Health Safety

Remind yourself that shed training and search can be physically demanding work for your dog. Therefore, always ensure your dog is in good health before starting any intense training session or hunt.

Don’t Overtrain

Overtraining your dog can lead to burnout and frustration, reducing their overall motivation and productivity. Therefore, incorporate regular breaks, and if your dog seems tired or bored, it may be best to resume training on another day.


Training your dog for shed hunting will not only turn your furry friend into an effective shed hunting companion but also strengthen the bond between the two of you. Remember, consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement are the key aspects that will expedite your dog’s learning process.

So, bundle up and start training your dog for your next shed hunting adventure. Happy shed hunting!

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