How to Train a Squirrel Dog? Unleashing the Instincts 🐶🌳

Imagine having a four-legged companion by your side, skilled in the art of squirrel hunting. Squirrel dogs, breeds known for their agility, keen senses, and tenacity, can make for thrilling and capable hunting partners. Whether you’re an avid hunter or simply want to engage your dog’s natural instincts, training a squirrel dog is a rewarding endeavor that taps into their innate abilities. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the world of how to train a squirrel dog, from understanding their breed characteristics to honing their tracking and treeing skills. Get ready to embark on a journey of partnership and hunting prowess with your squirrel dog! 🐶🌳

TL;DR: Training a squirrel dog involves tapping into their natural hunting instincts, teaching commands, and building a strong partnership. This guide covers breed characteristics, tracking skills, and essential commands for successful squirrel hunting.

Squirrel dogs, often hailing from hunting breeds such as Feists, Cur dogs, and Terriers, possess a remarkable skill set that can turn a casual stroll in the woods into an exciting hunting expedition.

These dogs are adept at tracking the elusive scent of squirrels and alerting their handlers when they’ve located a tree-bound target. Training a squirrel dog involves channeling their instincts, teaching them essential commands, and developing a strong partnership based on trust and communication.

Understanding Squirrel Dogs

  1. Breeds with Hunting Instincts:
    • Feists, Cur Dogs, and Terriers: Breeds like Feists, Curs, and Terriers are known for their agility, endurance, and strong prey drive.
    • Natural Instincts: Squirrel dogs inherit a keen sense of smell and the ability to track and tree squirrels.
  2. Squirrel Dog Characteristics:
    • Agility and Endurance: Squirrel dogs are agile climbers and can traverse difficult terrain with ease.
    • Alertness: They have a sharp sense of smell and excellent vision, allowing them to detect squirrels even from a distance.
  3. Hunting as a Partnership:
    • Handler-Dog Bond: Successful squirrel hunting requires a strong bond between the handler and the dog.
    • Communication: Handlers need to understand their dog’s cues and behaviors during hunts.

Preparing for Squirrel Dog Training

  1. Age and Health Considerations:
    • Starting Early: Begin training when your squirrel dog is a puppy to establish good habits and obedience.
    • Physical Fitness: Ensure your dog is in good health and shape for outdoor activities.
  2. Creating a Training Environment:
    • Safe Outdoor Space: Find a secure area for training sessions, ideally with trees and suitable squirrel scent.

Essential Squirrel Dog Commands

  1. Basic Obedience Commands:
    • “Come” Command: Teach your dog to return to you when called, ensuring they remain within your control.
    • “Stay” Command: Train your dog to stay in one place until given the signal to move.
  2. Tracking and Treeing Commands:
    • “Find It” Command: Teach your dog to actively search for squirrel scent on the ground.
    • “Tree It” Command: Train your dog to alert you when they’ve located a squirrel in a tree.
  3. Recall and Control:
    • “Leave It” Command: Prevent your dog from approaching or disturbing other animals during hunts.
    • “Quiet” Command: Teach your dog to stop barking after alerting you to a treed squirrel.

Developing Tracking and Treeing Skills

how to train a squirrel dog

  1. Scent Introduction:
    • Scent Trails: Create scent trails using squirrel scent to familiarize your dog with the scent.
    • Positive Reinforcement: Reward your dog when they successfully track and locate scent.
  2. Treeing Practice:
    • Treeing Dummy: Use a dummy or decoy to simulate a treed squirrel during training sessions.
    • Treeing Behavior: Praise and reward your dog when they exhibit treeing behavior, such as barking at a tree.
  3. Field Training:
    • Field Scenarios: Take your dog to areas with squirrel activity to practice real-life hunting scenarios.
    • Safety First: Ensure your dog is trained to avoid dangerous animals like snakes and to obey commands even during the excitement of a hunt.


Tips From Experienced: Training a squirrel dog requires patience, consistent practice, and a deep understanding of your dog’s instincts. Building a strong bond and effective communication are key to successful squirrel hunting.


Q1: Can I train any breed of dog to become a squirrel dog?

A: While certain breeds are naturally predisposed to squirrel hunting, any breed with a strong prey drive and good scent detection can be trained for squirrel hunting.

Q2: How long does it take to train a squirrel dog?

A: The training timeline varies based on the dog’s breed, age, and individual progress. Consistent training and practice are essential.

Q3: Can I train an older dog to become a squirrel dog?

A: Yes, older dogs can be trained, but the process may take longer. It’s important to assess their physical fitness and adapt training accordingly.

Q4: How do I handle my dog during a squirrel hunt?

A: Maintain control and safety by using commands such as “leave it” and “quiet.” Stay attuned to your dog’s behavior and provide positive reinforcement.

Q5: Are there any safety precautions for squirrel hunting with dogs?

A: Absolutely. Use protective gear for both you and your dog, avoid hunting near roads or hazardous areas, and ensure your dog is trained to obey commands even in high-stress situations.


Training a squirrel dog is a journey that celebrates the partnership between humans and dogs while embracing their innate hunting skills. By understanding breed characteristics, teaching essential commands, and honing tracking and treeing abilities, you’ll unlock your dog’s potential as a skilled squirrel hunter.

Fun Fact: The American Mountain Feist, a breed known for its squirrel hunting prowess, traces its origins back to European settlers who brought their hunting dogs to North America. The Feist breed’s history is intertwined with early American frontier life and the pursuit of small game.

Originally posted 2023-05-15 10:25:06.

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