Chocolate Lab for retrieving squirrels?

rubicon_in_ga

Senior Member
I'm not much for hunting waterfowl, which I know labs are supposed to be great for, but I have a 7 month old chocolate lab and I do alot of squirrel hunting. He hasn't had any formal training, but he's got a knack for playing fetch, knowing his different toys by name ("ball," "rope," "ducky," etc), and we'll even play hide and seek with his toys and he can almost always find them. I would think he'd be a natural at retrieving just about anything. Any reason I couldn't train him to retrieve squirrels? I'd really like to take him out hunting with me and let him be part of the experience. Any tips on how to get him to specifically seek out the squirrels after they fall out of the tree? I'm thinking I should skin a couple of squirrels and use the skins as a training aid, since I haven't found any squirrel training scents on the market. I've never trained a dog for hunting, so this is all new to me. Any help is appreciated! Thanks!
 

jimbo4116

Moderator
Staff member
If he likes to retrieve you should be able to train him. Had a friend with a lab that he taught to point and retrieve quail.

Only advice I have is take him out and fire a few .22s and move to a 20 to see his tolerance for gunfire then work on him with obedience commands. My experience and I am not a pro trainer but have owned 6 labs. Had one that would bring back anything you threw but ran for the truck when you fired a gun.

I am sure there will be more experience folks come along with advice.
 

Hillbilly stalker

Senior Member
It absolutely can work. I have a friend that has a retired lab that he used for waterfowl. He hunts a Feist for squirrels. The lab walks with him as he hunts, when his Feist trees, he shoots the squirrel out and the lab goes and gets it for him. That does 2 things, it gives the old dog some work to do that he loves and it saves my buddy from going up and down some serious gullies and hills where he hunts. It’s a win win situation. I’ve never worked a lab, but I would be careful with introduction to gunfire. It’s the best way of ruining a pup of any breed if done incorrectly. What I would try is to either kill a squirrel if in season or pick up a fresh road kill. Play fetch with it a few times to get the point across and start the scent association. I start my dogs with a cheap wal mart cap gun. Have someone else hold the dog, you stand around 20 yards away, call the dogs name so you have his attention, throw the squirrel the same time you fire the cap pistol toward the ground pointed away from the pup. If it doesn’t bother him, try a few more and tell him to fetch them. You have to be able to read the dog, but you should be able to work with this. Labs are smart and are driven to please their owners, the more you work a dog the better he likes it. A 7 month old pup has a very short attention span, don’t work him over 10-15 minutes at a time. I give my dogs a key word or phrase before I shoot, that way they know what is coming and are never surprised by a shot. I tell mine “ watch him”, that gets them alert and watching the top of the trees.

And I have seen labs tree squirrels in the yard, not what you would call squirrel dogs tho. But they definitely can assist with retrieving and anytime spent in the woods with a dog is a good time. Good luck and let us know how it turns out for you.(y)
 

rubicon_in_ga

Senior Member
Great advice guys! Thanks so much! I hadn't even thought about gun training yet, but that's sound advice too. He doesn't seem shy around loud noises thus far, (thunder/lightning, loud motorcycles, dropping a pan on the floor, stuff like that), and we were told by his breeder that he comes from a long line of hunting dogs, so hopefully he'll take right to it. I'll try the cap gun trick and see how he handles it, then move up to a .22 once he gets the hang of fetching the squirrels, like you suggested! Thanks again!
 

Hillbilly stalker

Senior Member
Just do it from a distance and make sure you have his attention first. If you was sitting on log eating a sandwich and I walked up behind you and cracked one off…..it would scare you too. Post some pictures when you get to rolling with him.
 

sportsman94

Senior Member
I have a lab and she just loves to retrieve. Doves, ducks, geese, and yes, a couple squirrels too. There was never any training to get her to grab a squirrel, but she already had a lot of obedience and retrieve training prior to that time. I would put obedience at the most important skill for your dog to have prior to hunting. Don’t know about other dogs, but if mine isn’t sitting still she will often miss the fall of the bird and then she will run around aimlessly unless I line her up for a blind retrieve. Take your pup and have lots of fun!
 

chase870

Possum Sox
I have a Lab that will fetch up anything I tell her too. Squirrels will bite and scratch a dog, it didnt take but one to get my dog in the habit of putting the bite thats right on them
 
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