How to Train a Squirrel Dog? in Easy Steps

If you’re an avid hunter, you may have considered training a squirrel dog to help you on your hunts. Squirrel dogs are trained to track, tree, and retrieve squirrels, making them a valuable asset in the field.

We’ll cover the basics of squirrel dog training, including understanding the breed and choosing the right dog for the job. We’ll then move on to the training process, covering everything from basic obedience to advanced hunting techniques.

We’ll also discuss common mistakes new squirrel dog trainers make and how to avoid them. However, training a squirrel dog requires patience, dedication, and a deep understanding of the breed. This article will provide all the information you need to train a squirrel dog like a pro.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding the breed and choosing the right dog is crucial for successful squirrel dog training.
  • Basic obedience is the foundation for all squirrel dog training, and advanced techniques should only be attempted once your dog has mastered the basics.
  • Patience, dedication, and consistency are key to successful squirrel dog training.

Understanding Squirrel Dogs

Understanding Squirrel Dogs

If you’re interested in hunting squirrels, consider training a squirrel dog. They come in different breeds. Squirrel dogs are known for their agility, speed, and sharp senses, which make them excellent hunting companions.

Before you start training your squirrel dog, it’s important to understand what you’re dealing with. Squirrel dogs have a strong prey drive and instinct to hunt, so they may be difficult to control if not appropriately trained. They are also highly energetic and require regular exercise and mental stimulation to stay healthy and happy.

To train a squirrel dog, you need to establish a bond with your dog and develop its loyalty to you. This involves spending time with your dog, petting and grooming them regularly, and playing games like fetch and hide-and-seek. These activities will help you build a strong relationship with your dog, essential for successful training.

When selecting a squirrel dog, choosing a quality pup from a reputable breeder is important. Look for a pup with good squirrel-hunting parents who show signs of being alert, curious, and eager to please.

Choosing the Right Breed

When training a squirrel dog, choosing the right breed is crucial. Different breeds have different strengths and weaknesses that can affect their hunting ability. Here are three popular squirrel dog breeds to consider:

1. Coonhound


Coonhounds like the Treeing Walker and the Black and Tan are popular squirrel dogs. They have an excellent sense of smell and the ability to track squirrels through dense woods. Coonhounds are also good at treeing squirrels, which means they bark at the base of a tree to alert the hunter that a squirrel is up in the branches.

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2. Feist

Feists are small hunting dogs originally bred in the southern United States. They are known for their agility and their ability to climb trees. Feists are also good at barking to alert their owners when they have treed a squirrel. They come in various colors and can be either smooth or wire-haired.

3. Cur


Curs, such as the Mountain Cur and the Black Mouth Cur, are versatile hunting dogs that can be trained to hunt various game, including squirrels. They are known for their endurance and ability to work in various terrains.

When choosing a breed, it’s important to consider your hunting style and the terrain you’ll be hunting in. A coonhound may be the best choice if you’re hunting in dense woods. If you’ll be hunting in open areas with lots of trees, a feist may be a better choice. If you’re looking for a versatile hunting dog that can handle a variety of terrains, a cur may be the best choice.

Squirrel Dog Training Basics

Training a squirrel dog requires patience, consistency, and a deep understanding of the breed’s instincts. Here are a few basic tips to get you started:

1. Start with Basic Commands

Start with Basic Commands

Begin with basic commands such as “sit,” “stay,” and “come.” If you are consistently reinforcing these commands with positive reinforcement, such as treats and praise, there are possibilities that your dog will adapt them very soon.

2. Introduce Hunting Commands

Once your dog has mastered basic commands, begin introducing hunting commands such as “find it,” “track,” and “tree.” Use positive reinforcement to encourage your dog to follow these commands and reward them when they complete them.

3. Socialize Your Dog

Socialize Your Dog

Socializing your dog is crucial to their development as a hunting companion. Taking them to different environments, people, and other dogs. This will help them become comfortable with distractions and remain focused on the task.

4. Exercise Your Dog

A well-exercised dog is a happy dog. Ensure your squirrel dog gets plenty of exercise to maintain physical and mental health. Take them on walks, play fetch, and engage in other activities stimulating their hunting instincts.

5. Use Proper Equipment

Use Proper Equipment

Invest in proper equipment, such as a quality leash, collar, and hunting vest, as it will ensure your dog’s safety and comfort while hunting. Additionally, consider using a GPS tracking collar to keep track of your dog’s location while hunting.

What are the Steps to Train a Squirrel Dog?

When you are training a squirrel dog, you will need a lot of patience, consistency, and dedication. Here are the essential steps to prepare a squirrel dog:

Step 1 – Obedience Training

Obedience Training

The first step in training a squirrel dog is obedience training, for which you will need to be the pack leader and teach your dog the basic commands, as this is a helpful way to make your dog understand what is expected of them and build a strong foundation for further training.

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Be consistent with your commands and train in short sessions, gradually increasing the duration and difficulty of the exercises.

Step 2 – Scent Training

Scent training is crucial for a squirrel dog. It would help if you taught your dog to track and locate squirrels by scent. Start by introducing your dog to the smell of a squirrel. You can use a squirrel tail or a scent drag to create a scent trail for your dog.

Once your dog is familiar with the scent, you can start hiding squirrel tails or drags in various locations for your dog to find. Gradually increase the difficulty of the exercises by hiding the scent in more challenging areas.

Step 3 – Leash Training

 Leash Training

Leash training is essential for a squirrel dog. It would help if you taught your dog to walk on a leash and follow your commands while on a leash. This will help you control your dog during hunting and keep them safe.

To train your dog, introduce them to the leash and collar. Let them wear it around the house for short periods and gradually increase the duration. Once your dog is comfortable with the leash, teach them to walk on it and follow your commands.

Step 4 – Field Training

Field training is where you put all the pieces together and train your dog to hunt squirrels in the field. Start by taking your dog to a squirrel-rich area and let them track and locate squirrels.

Gradually increase the difficulty of the exercises by introducing distractions such as other animals or noises. Protective gear such as a vest or boots keeps your dog safe during hunting.

By following these essential steps, you can train your squirrel dog to become a skilled and reliable hunting companion.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them?

Training a squirrel dog is challenging, and it’s common to make mistakes along the way. Here are some common mistakes and how to avoid them:

1. Skipping Basic Training

Skipping Basic Training

One of the most common mistakes is to skip basic training and jump straight into hunting. Basic training is essential for a squirrel dog to learn obedience, socialization, and other necessary skills. Skipping basic training can lead to a dog that is difficult to control and not well-behaved.

To avoid this mistake, start with basic training and work up to more advanced training.

2. Not Socializing Your Dog

Socialization is the most important part of a dog’s development and crucial for a squirrel dog. A non-socialized dog may be fearful, aggressive, or difficult to control. Socializing your dog means exposing them to different people, animals, and environments.

To avoid this mistake, start socializing your dog early on. Take them to puppy classes or parks and introduce them to different people and animals. This will help your dog become well-adjusted and confident.

3. Overworking Your Dog

Overworking Your Dog

Overworking your dog is another common mistake. It’s important to know your dog’s limits. Overworking your dog can lead to exhaustion, dehydration, and other health problems.

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You must pay attention to your dog’s behavior and body language to avoid this mistake. Take breaks when your dog needs them, and ensure they have plenty of water and rest. Don’t push your dog beyond its limits.

4. Using the Wrong Equipment

Using the wrong equipment is another common mistake. Using the wrong equipment can lead to injuries, discomfort, and other problems. Ensure you have the right equipment for your dog, including a sturdy leash, collar, and hunting vest.

To avoid this mistake, do your research and invest in high-quality equipment. Ensure the equipment fits properly and is comfortable for your dog to wear. This will help keep your dog safe and comfortable while hunting.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure your squirrel dog is well-trained, well-behaved, and ready for the hunt.


What are the best dog breeds for squirrel hunting?

The best dog breeds for squirrel hunting are those with a strong prey drive and can work independently. Some popular breeds include the Feist, Mountain Cur, and Treeing Walker Coonhound. However, it’s important to note that any breed can be trained to hunt squirrels with the right temperament and training.

How can you train a dog to hunt squirrels?

Training a dog to hunt squirrels involves a combination of socialization, obedience training, and exposure to squirrels. Start by socializing your puppy and building a bond with them. Then, begin obedience training and work on basic commands like “sit” and “stay.” Once your dog has a good foundation of obedience, you can start exposing them to squirrels and teaching them the hunting commands.

Where can you find squirrel dogs for sale in Virginia?

If you’re looking for squirrel dogs for sale in Virginia, start by checking with local breeders and hunting clubs. You can also search online classifieds and social media groups. However, it’s important to research and only purchase a dog from a reputable breeder.

What is the American Squirrel Dog breed?

The American Squirrel Dog is a dog breed developed in the United States specifically for hunting squirrels. They are small to medium-sized dogs with short, dense coats and a strong prey drive. They are known for their ability to work independently and their excellent sense of smell.


Start by bonding with your puppy and developing their loyalty to you. Play games like fetch and hide-and-seek to sharpen their hunting skills and make them more responsive to your commands. Once your dog is comfortable with physical contact and has developed a strong bond with you, you can begin training them to hunt squirrels.

Training a squirrel dog is a long-term commitment, requiring a lot of time, effort, and patience. But with the right approach and a little bit of hard work, you can turn your furry friend into a skilled squirrel hunter who will provide you with hours of entertainment and enjoyment in the great outdoors.