By Irby C. Edwards III
Now that I have trained my young Labrador Retriever to find sheds, I look forward to my time in the woods at the end of deer season.
Remi’s nose comes in handy here in Georgia where ground cover is thick. Sheds are much harder to find in the forests of the Deep South, unlike the giant fields and open ground in the Midwest.
It was easier to train Remi than I thought it would be. It only took him a couple of days to grasp the concept of retrieving sheds.
Here are the steps I used to train my dog:
First, I used a fresh, natural-smelling shed antler to get Remi interested in playing fetch. Once he showed excitement, I rewarded him with a small dog treat after each retrieval.
From the yard, I progressed to throwing the shed into the bushes for Remi to find. When he got good at that, we tried it in the woods.
As he searched for hidden sheds, I used the phrases “Hunt it up, Remi!” and “Shed . . . Remi . . . find shed!”
Once he mastered finding the single shed, I scattered my entire stash of sheds across the yard until he got the idea that sheds come in multiples.
After he figured that out, we moved deep into the woods where I made it increasingly difficult for Remi to locate the hidden antlers.
Not only did he master shed hunting quickly, I even taught him to put the shed in the bag!
If we don’t find sheds, it’s still a great way to spend a post-season day in the woods with a good friend.
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– Puppy photo courtesy of Jody Fuller
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