Starting Young Dogs on Wild Boar
  • Hey everyone, I know that this won't necessarily apply to all of the forums members but hopefully it becomes at least an interesting thread :) .

    So I'm living in Italy now, and this Friday I'll be picking up two European Boar piglets to see if my American Akita has any hunt in her, and to see what my other Malinois/Curr dog does around boar.

    I'm pretty excited and looking forward to it since I've never attempted to train a boar dog before. When I get some pictures of the piglets on Friday I'll post a comment updating the thread with the pictures.

    Anyways, I have a separate pig pen built for them and am constructing a baying pen this week for the practice sessions. There's a few questions that I was hoping that some members of the forum who might have experience with this would be able to answer.

    How did you introduce your dogs to boar? I figure that using a crate, and only doing short sessions would be a pretty good way. Since I have experience with upland bird hunting dogs, and with building prey in schutzhund I have an idea of how to approach it but I wasn't sure if there was anything specific to boar hunting that would be suggested.

    How did you train your dog to not chase other game when you're running after boar? Do your dogs focus solely on the boar while ignoring the deer, squirrel, fox, rabbit, etc?

    What would you suggest I feed the boar while they grow up? I do plan to butcher the boar, so I would be more than willing to put in the extra care of selecting a diet that would best compliment the flavor of the meat.

  • T_DogT_Dog
    Posts: 331
    Don't know much about it. But it could be like training a coon dog, you would hafta obviously teach it to sent them out then reward them for finding it.
  • @T_Dog yea I guess I was just wondering how, since NK already have such difficult recall, you would work on ensuring the dog only hunted boar without being heavy handed or using a shock collar when they go off after something else.

    @WrylyBrindle have you had an issue with your Kai going off the deer trail and tracking other animals?
  • T_DogT_Dog
    Posts: 331

    I can't see my Akita doing this, because I think they might decide to tell other dogs that it's their boar. I think they might fight over it. It sure looks like these dogs are enjoying themselves. The boat is not so much. Lol

    I suppose the owner would need a good recall otherwise their dog might chase a bore for miles. Leaving the owner to search for his dog.

    I suppose other Akita have good recall. But none of mine ever have been good at it, especially under distraction.

    Did you see that one dog get hurt? Boars are tuff...
  • @TreySmith417
    On deer tracks she is on leash (that's what our state law allows) so No, but also Yes, because on our very first live call she did veer off once from a cold, rained out track after we lost blood and stopped to talk with a property owner who's land we thought it might have crossed (so after significant loss of tracking momentum) when she detected fresh turkey action and chose to follow that instead. She was super hot- wagging, whining and pulling! and led us to a spot full of disturbed leaves: turkey scratching after acorns. This is why we mark last blood so if we do go off on an inspired turkey trot, I can get her back on mission again.

    I don't blame her, since she is a bird dog first and a blood tracking dog second, but as her handler it is my job to know her indications of birds vs blood. When blood sign or deer tracks, hair etc are on track for her, she is very good at staying on track. She threw herself right in the river after a buck on one track. She's coming along well.

    For boar, you want to hang on for @TheWalrus or @shishiinu to advise you- they are the real hog hunters here!
    Post edited by WrylyBrindle at 2017-02-28 21:56:41
  • @T_Dog I think I've seen that video before from my searching around for what other people have pushed out in regards to training the pups. And yea right now my recall is pretty decent but I have to coax her into it by carrying food on me and making sure that I do the recall before she spots something more interesting. I have her pull a 30 foot tracking lead when we're going through the fields and what not just in case. I know she's not ready for an actual hunt, we still have a lot of training to do.

    I hadn't really thought of her being aggressive to other dogs instead of working as a team. She is pretty dog selective so that would be something I would have to watch out for.

    @wrylybrindle ahh I wasn't sure if you ran them on leash or not when you were tracking the deer. And that makes sense why coming across birds would slight throw the pup off. How did you correct? Did you just let her finish the trail then double back to the last blood scent you had? I assume you didn't want to do any form of "punishment" since she was looking for birds.

    And yea I've talked with @Shishiinu about some of what he went through a few years ago training his dogs.

    I would love any more tips or information from
    Him or Shigeru though :P

  • WrylyBrindleWrylyBrindle
    Posts: 3289
    I didn't know what she was after till we arrived at the turkey scraping/feeding marks, and then I just said in a boring way "Oh, turkeys are gone." then excitedly "HEY! Let's go look at that blood again! COOL!!!" and took her back.

    I don't really do "punishment" with them, I do however make a note of her body language on track and on birds. In time you figure it out and can intercept and re-align sooner and more subtlety. (Kai are so subtle) Like when I learned to tell if the dogs were excited about a grouse nearby or goofing off after squirrels. It looks different. On birds the tail really goes, and the path they trace with the nose - if you imagine it being a line- LOOKS like the way grouse forage: all noodles and ducking under low balsam boughs. Whereas on blood tracks, the tail is calmer, her nose is down, the line is less twirly and more direct and I can tell from doing it that when she stops and lifts her head she has overshot a turn on the track and I can give her cheerful encouragement, ("Let's Find it!") or walk her back to last known blood and make a little circle to try to pick up the track again.

    Mostly I try hard to stay out of her way and not Over=handle her. To stay back and let her work and figure it out, be patient and not try to do it for her (because Its foolish to think I can- she's the one with the nose!) It's difficult to give the dog room and not overhand because you have the pressure of the hunter with you and want to look like you are *doing* something and making progress and using the magic nose to find their deer, when we are still developing at this work and its not a race.
  • PoetikDragonPoetikDragon
    Posts: 2949
    I would definitely avoid punitive methods (shock collar, even scolding) when trying to get NK to work. The fact is they're not going to work unless they want to, and any pain or fear associated with the task is just going to shut them down.

    And since we're discussing recall as well, its worth noting that if you want to build a strong drive you shouldn't ever call the dog off whatever its supposed to be following. You will only confuse the dog and send it mixed messages, and the next time it detects the boar it might not follow it at all. When you call a dog off you're telling it "that's the wrong thing to do, you're not supposed to follow boar." Much better to redirect the dog back onto something else its supposed to do, without telling the dog that following boar was wrong.

    Chrystal's null reward for following turkey and positive redirection to following blood trail is a great example, as it incorporates both of my points -- no punishment for the wrong thing and redirection to the right thing.
    「怪獣荘秋田犬」Kaiju Kennels Japanese Akita and Hokkaido, Claire Matthews
    Post edited by PoetikDragon at 2017-03-01 19:50:36
  • @PoetikDragon right I completely agree and am on the same page as you. Which was why I put "punishment" in the quotes. I guess a better phrasing would've been redirected. The only "punishment" I've done with my AA is the lack of reward itself if she does something incorrectly.

    From my understanding building drive is pretty similar across the boards for all dog sports. The dog has to have fun and enjoy. No schutzhund dog that's trained heavy in "defensive" drive will ever be as successful as the one that is naturally built up through prey and having fun.

    For your barn hunts how did you start introducing your JA's to the "game"?

    @WrylyBrindle thanks so much for your detailed response Chrystal! It really does help, I can definitely see myself in the future being tempted to want to "over-handle." You using that phrasing made me think about things a little clearer :)
  • PoetikDragonPoetikDragon
    Posts: 2949
    @TreySmith417 Barn Hunt is actually hunt drive (the desire to root out vermin in their dens) rather than prey drive (the desire to chase down something running). Many dogs with strong prey drive just aren't interested in Barn Hunt because the rats aren't moving and exciting. With breeds that aren't naturally inclined to do it like terriers, introduction involves trying to engage their prey drive.... by showing them a rat in a small, open cage, moving the cage around so they can "chase" it, and rewarding them for sticking to the cage or coming straight to it when brought close. But for some dogs that wont be enough, and really, there's not much you can do about it.

    I have two JAs that have their RATI title and they're both different. One of them has very strong avoidance of the rat, so we were able to pass her instinct test by seeing which tube she avoided. However, it would be impossible to use that same logic at higher levels of competition so we wont do Barn Hunt with her anymore (even though she loves doing the tunnel haha). The other one isn't really interested in the rat or hunt drive, but she is trained in nose work and very obeisant so she understands the point of the game and wants to please us. She has successfully found the rat in multiple runs, however, either didn't do the obstacles or ran out of time doing them or the handler didn't call the rat correctly -- so we don't have any Q's yet but hopefully soon. I'm sure it would be a lot easier if she had strong hunt drive and really enjoyed the game instead of just doing it because she knows we want her to.

    On the other hand she absolutely loves doing nose work. We have an excellent instructor who has been really helpful with regards to training dogs on scent. We apply many of the concepts learned in that class to other areas of training as well. It's especially useful for anything where the human handler doesn't know the "right" answer because the rat tube is hidden, the cocaine is in one of many lockers, or the wild game left a track to follow, etc. Some of those tenants include:

    - Always reward as close to the source as possible

    - Always reward continuously while the dog is at source (do NOT stop praising except to inhale!) and stop rewarding the nanosecond that the dog leaves the source; if he goes back, resume rewarding every single time

    - Never call, pull, or force the dog off the source

    - Never reward for leaving the source (see #1)

    - Never give an obedience command while the dog is working (the dog is in command and making decisions, your job is just to follow and interpret what he tells you).

    - Be patient when a dog does not appear to be working, he may need time to think it over or the scent was thrown far by air currents and he's following it back (see #1 and #5)

    - It is better to take the source away from the dog than take the dog away from the source (see #3)

    - Use luring and redirection when the source cannot be taken away (but don't reward, see #4)

    - Work completely off leash if you are able, removing the temptation to try to control the dog or accidentally pull away from the source (see #3 and #5)

    - Treats, toys, and clickers alone are not ideal rewards because they're not "continuous" and cannot be stopped the second the dog leaves the source; verbal praise and petting are the strongest reinforcers in this case and should be used in combination with treats

    - Use your body to direct the dog nonverbally:
    * Move to the general area you want the dog to go
    * If you stop the dog will stop; keep moving even if just a little bit
    * Point your entire body at what you want the dog to check out
    * Do NOT get too close or lean over, crowding will "push" a dog away
    「怪獣荘秋田犬」Kaiju Kennels Japanese Akita and Hokkaido, Claire Matthews
  • TheWalrusTheWalrus
    Posts: 1624
    Boar are different than a lot of prey animals in that they apply a lot of pressure on a hunting dog. There's a fine dance between fight/flight going on between the boar and dog the entire time.

    ""How did you introduce your dogs to boar?

    -I usually start with a pelt or smaller dead boar. Main reason being that boar can be pretty scary with their bluffing and charging, and at this point in time you don't want the dog getting scared of the boar. If they're interested and playing with the pelt, that's good.
    -The first time I introduce a dog to a live boar will depend on the pup. As small a boar as you can find is a good idea, and there should be fence or something separating them. If the pup shows interest, a healthy wariness, that's good. If he barks, even better.
    -Don't let training sessions drag on too long. Take the dog away while he's still excited. This builds drive for the next time it sees a boar. Don't push a pup past its comfort threshold either. Patience is key, most dogs take time.
    -I don't give any commands or do much talking at this stage other than to let the pup know I am aware of the boar too, and a bit of low key encouragement when he does something I like. The dog needs to be focused on the boar, not you, and I've seen novice dogs get roasted looking at their owner instead of the boar.

    ""How did you train your dog to not chase other game when you're running after boar? Do your dogs focus solely on the boar while ignoring the deer, squirrel, fox, rabbit, etc?

    -Focus solely on boar. I never shoot anything else they flush, try to get them on boar and only boar as much as possible, in areas that have high numbers of boar. I've never used an e-collar. Once a dog is started, the key is to get it on as many boar as possible, and for you as a hunter to shoot as many boar for your dog as possible. A connection is made, and your dog should figure out pretty quickly what's up. That's not to say my dogs will not chase other game on occasion if it's right under their noses, but they won't actively look for them.

    What would you suggest I feed the boar while they grow up? I do plan to butcher the boar, so I would be more than willing to put in the extra care of selecting a diet that would best compliment the flavor of the meat.

    -no idea. I've never kept boar.
  • shishiinushishiinu
    Posts: 2337
    I'll leave my two cents. Boar hunting with dogs requires a lot of time and patience. From my experience it all comes down to your dogs comfort level and drive to go after a animal that's much larger and stronger.

    I started my kishus, like Shigeru did, by using boar skin and hooves. I waited until they reached near their first year before I really put them on live hogs. During their puppy years I concentrated on building some recall (my dogs will never recall if they are on a hog), breaking any gun shyness, and getting them used to the sights and sounds of the woods.

    Once i started to put them on live hogs, I had two Eurasian hogs in a pen and worked the dogs every day for about 15 to 20 min so that the dogs didn't get bored and place too much stress on the hogs. While I trained the dogs on the penned hogs, I also started to hunt them. For some reason I got lucky the first few times and the dogs were doing decent on finding hogs.

    Like Shigeru said, once the dogs run a few hogs they tend to mostly just chase hogs although my dogs have tree'd bobcats, squirrels, rabbits, chased deer, and cows. I have experimented with ecollar to break the dogs from chasing deer and it's been a hit and miss. Some dogs react really well to it and some just take it with no effect.

    hope this helps.
    Gen, Ami, Kaylynn, Trinity, Yusuke......Riki, Hana, Sammi, Taro, and the newest addition Koyuki.
    Post edited by shishiinu at 2017-03-06 09:17:19
  • shishiinushishiinu
    Posts: 2337
    Also I ended up butchering the hogs after they reached about 150lb or so. They will eat anything and everything. I fed a mixture oats, corn, and pig feed. The last three weeks before I butchered them, I fed them strictly on corn to help with meat flavoring. I really enjoyed the meat I got from them. Extremely tender and juicy. They are great leftover eaters also.
    Gen, Ami, Kaylynn, Trinity, Yusuke......Riki, Hana, Sammi, Taro, and the newest addition Koyuki.
  • @TheWalrus & @Shishiinu Thanks so much for both of your detailed and awesome replies! My training with the boar started a lot sooner than I had planned.

    The first night that I had them they were able to squeeze through a small drainage hole that I had built to drain the water out of the concrete pig pen. So when I went out to check on them that night they were nowhere to be found. I was pretty mad and upset since I didn't think they would be able to fit through such a small hole. Clearly I was wrong.

    So I grabbed a flash light and figured I would see if I would be able to find them. My Malinois/Curr dog has been showing increasingly more drive as he's getting older and his recall is nearly perfect so I figured I would give him a shot at helping me find them. So we walk over to the hole that the boar escaped through and I tell him to look for them and he sprints off towards this big growth of cacti about 10 meters away from the hole and when he gets there he flushes out both boar right away. One runs out deeper into our fields and the other towards the road and near our neighbors farm across the street with my dog chasing him right around. I recall my dog, Otis, and decide that I'll wait until morning to try to find them since it's too dark for me to see and Otis has never seen a boar and I didn't think he would be able to catch one since it's such a new experience.

    So I start hunting for them around 7:00 with Otis and immediately we come across one of them and she takes off running. I have Otis on a 30 feet lead and he's barking and shaking from wanting to chase so I let him go. Within 10 seconds he had tackled the little boar and picked the whole thing up in his mouth. I walk over to him and tell him "out" and he drops it in my hands and I put it back in the (now fixed) pen. A few hours later my neighbor across the street tells me that he saw the other one in the cactus plants near the pens so we set up a perimeter and are able to push the boar into the baying pen area where I eventually cornered him and was able to pick him up and put him in the pen with his sister.

    The moral I learned is that boar are incredibly fast and smart as hell. I'm lucky that I was able to have both my boar and I was very surprised that my malinois was able to instinctively capture the boar so soon for me. Even if my AA doesn't end up hunting, I'll at least have my Otis dog to help me out when I'm training the future kishu pup I'm waiting on.

    I don't think I'll let either of my dogs interact with the boar until they're a bit bigger. Both of them got to see them in the baying pen from the outside of the fence and they both went wild barking, whining, and pawing at the fence trying to get to them. I think I should be able to get the AA to hunt some, I just want to keep working on her obedience before I ever take her on a real hunt.

    @Shishiinu Right now I'm feeding the boar a wheat bran pig mix that they seem to love. I really want to feed them a strictly acorn diet but I guess Italy has now Oak trees in the South so my chances of being able to do that are pretty much nothing. They also don't grow corn in the South of Italy so the only corn I've been able to find has been in a can which I guess is fine.

    @Shishiinu & @TheWalrus how do you start scent training? I've read on some hog hunting blogs that they'll wear rubber boots and tie a hog out in the woods and then go back to the dog and try to get the dog to track the boar to the location. I'm honestly really nervous and terrified to ever try this in the future since I already almost lost my boar. I can't imagine them being calm enough to even let me tie them, they're nasty little buggers who try to bite at me every chance they get.
    Post edited by TreySmith417 at 2017-03-06 21:30:51
  • shishiinushishiinu
    Posts: 2337
    You can always use a drag with a pig hide and drag it to your hog that's in a cage or a pen. I did track training using one of the (friendlier) hogs and ties its hind leg to a 5ft rope and secure the other end to a tree. If you use the wind to your advantage, you can just put one in a cage and hide it in some brush. So there's a lot of ways to do it.
    Gen, Ami, Kaylynn, Trinity, Yusuke......Riki, Hana, Sammi, Taro, and the newest addition Koyuki.

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