Scent training for hunting dogs depends on a number of factors like wind, humidity, ground condition and even the activity level of the birds being hunted.
Training your young Weimaraner for hunting will include some training for tracking the game. Take your dog for training when there are different conditions, so he will be able to track scents dependably.
As your dog becomes more experienced, she will be able to teach you a thing or two!
What Affects Scent Trails?
I’m sure that you have heard that a healthy dog has a wet, cold nose. Well, there is some truth to that old saying.
A healthy sniffer is cool and wet. Both temperature and humidity play a large part in how well your dog’s nose is working on any particular day.
Scent is water soluble. That’s why your dog’s nose works better when it is wet. Hounds, retrievers and bird dogs all need to wet their noses and have a drink when they have been hunting for a while. Dogs with dry and warm noses simply do not do as well in the field.
Cool moist air provides the best of conditions for good scenting. On the other hand, soil that is warmer than the air and moist, attracts scent particles. The warm moist soil will hold the scent, making tracking easier.
Scent conditions are the worst on a sunny day when the air is hot and dry as high temperatures will disperse the scent molecules quickly.
On a hot, dry day there may simply be no scent for your young inexperienced hunting dog to track.
Damp and cool conditions are usually adequate for tracking scent.
Rain quickly washes scent away, as you would expect. But game does often move during rain, holding tight right after it stops. If there is no lightening, it might be good to do some training in the rain, especially if it is just a light mist. Exposing your dog to different conditions will give him much needed experience.
Heavy winds will dissipate scents and make them blow away, while gentle breezes tend to take the scent to bird dogs who track scents with their heads held high.
But there are other factors to consider. You may have heard other hunters say that, when the barometer drops, the game start moving.
In advance of the front, scenting conditions should be adequate, but, as the front gets closer, your dog may have more trouble holding the scent.
The best scenting conditions are met when the ground is a little warmer than the air. Often you will see this scenario in late afternoon or early evening. You might also see these conditions in the early morning if there is fog.
Other Conditions that Affect Scent
Even something as simple as the activity of the game can affect your dog’s success at tracking. For example, if the birds are quiet and not active, they will not give off as much scent.
On the other hand, some dogs seem to be able to discern adrenalin in birds and can almost tell when a bird is fearful and going to take flight.
Keep in mind that it takes a few minutes for scent to develop. If you hit a bird that falls quickly with wings folded, there may be little scent to follow. Birds that tumble and flop around on the way down leave a better scent trail.
If your dog fails to pick up a bird’s scent right away, he might be more successful if you wait a bit longer before sending him out on the trail.
Other factors that affect your dog’s sense of smell include:
- Medications – if your dog is taking medications or has had a respiratory illness recently, here sense of smell may be affected.
- Fumes and smells – Tobacco smoke and auto exhaust fumes can diminish your dog’s sense of smell.
- Cheese – Of course your dog will want you to share your lunch with her. However, if your sandwich includes cheese, especially Swiss or sharp cheddar, it’s best to ignore her pleas. Cheese can cause your dog’s sniffer to be off, at least temporarily.
- Seasonal allergies – Just like you, your dog can have hay fever or allergies to pollen in the early spring. Be alert to sneezing and other signs of seasonal allergies.
Despite all the issues that can affect your hunting dog’s sense of smell, he is still far better than you at sniffing out game and hunting. And he is a loyal hunting companion.
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