The Great Outdoors
Dachshunds love being outdoors. In addition to providing them a chance for physical exercise, it mentally stimulates them, too. If you have a favorite outdoor activity, like swimming, hiking, or hunting, why not bring your dachsie along?
Swimming is a tremendous way to strengthen your dachsie's back. This is good both for preventing back injuries as well as helping in recovery from trauma to this area. You may not have realized this, but many dachshunds really enjoy swimming, too. If you frequent a favorite swimming hole, your dachshund is likely to enjoy joining in on the fun. Make sure you use a drying agent in her ears afterward to help ward off any potential infections.
If you have a pool in your back yard and you want your dachshund to join you for swims there, you need to take a few extra precautions. The most important thing is to teach your dachshund how to exit the pool. It's easy for a dachshund to swim out of a natural body of water, such as a pond, but a pool is a different story. If she doesn't know where the steps are, she will paddle to exhaustion and drown.
Make sure that the gate to your pool is shut whenever you can't supervise your dog. If you have a dachshund with a love of swimming, he will make a beeline for the pool. Even with a pool cover, it is possible for the dog to drown when the cover dips into the pool water under his weight.
Every time your dachshund joins you in the pool, swim with him to the exit stairs. While your dachshund is learning where he can climb out of the pool, mark the exit with an orange plastic cone or a red flag. Continue working with him until he is entering and exiting the pool with ease.
If you are an avid hiker and want to take your dachsie along with you, there are a few things you can do to prepare. Before you even think about hiking, be sure to condition your dachsie. You can't expect a dog who doesn't walk more than half a mile a day to keep up on a rugged, three-mile trek in the wilderness. Not only will you need to work on walking for extended distances, but you must also work with your dachsie on hands-free walking. If you are carrying a pack, you are going to need your hands and arms for balance. Hikers can attach the dachsie's leash to their pack or waist, but the dog needs to understand she can't stop and smell everything.
Also be sure to have your dog vaccinated for giardia. This nasty little protozoan is very common in streams, lakes, and other natural water sources that your dachshund may lap up before you can stop her.
While on the hike, follow these safety tips:
Use a comfortable harness. Make sure it is smooth and doesn't rub anywhere.
Be aware of natural dangers. The movement of your dachshund may trigger a predatory response in some wild animals. Know what is out there in those woods before you enter with your pup or adult.
Bring fresh water for you and your dog. It's recommended that you carry eight ounces for every hour you will be hiking.
Don't put a backpack on your dog! The dachshund cannot carry its own water and food.
Use an effective tick and flea repellent.
Pack a first aid kit. Include bandage tape, bandage wrap, square gauze pads, antibiotic salve, tweezers, and your veterinarian's phone number.
Bring a working cell phone.
Much of your dachshund's hunting abilities will be instinctive. You will need to teach your dog how to find a shot pheasant that he didn't see fall (a blind retrieve) and to retrieve game without shredding it. The same goes for the rabbit hunters.
Both standard and miniature dachshunds are natural hunters. If you are interested in hunting with a dachshund, you'll want to make sure that you purchase a puppy from tested, proven hunting lines or from a breeder who regularly participates in AKC field trials or certifies his dogs in hunting through the American Working Terrier Association (AWTA).
In order to become a hunting dog, your dachsie will have to have a strong prey drive — does he chase every squirrel he sees? — and cannot be gun shy. Dogs who are less bold may not have the courage to hunt underground quarry but may do fine hunting upland birds, such as pheasant, and rabbits.
If you have an AWTA or AKC dachshund field trial club in your area, contact these clubs and find out if anyone is hunting with their dachshunds in your area. One of the best ways to learn how to teach your dachshund to hunt is by learning how others have trained their dogs.
Wounded Game Tracking
The dachshund has been bred to track wounded game for centuries. Today, blood tracking, as it is sometimes called, is a volunteer service offered by licensed dog handlers during deer and bear hunting seasons. Though many breeds can be used for blood tracking, the dachshund — the wirehaired, in particular — is the breed of choice. Blood-tracking dogs are called out as a last resort when a hunter has wounded game and can't find it alone.
The dachshund is brought to the site where the game was shot and works on a 30-foot tracking line to follow the trail and find the wounded game. If the deer is mortally wounded, the dog handler is trained to end its suffering quickly and mercifully. If the deer can survive its injury it is left alone to heal.
Using dogs while hunting for deer was outlawed in the Northeast and Midwest in the early 1900s, when deer had become scarce and hunters were using dogs to find and run down the few remaining deer. In many states, it is still illegal to use a dog during deer hunting. Check with your state's fish and game department to see if blood tracking is allowed in your state.
Blood-tracking dogs are allowed in New York, Vermont, Maine, Maryland, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, and Texas, as well as states that allow dogs to be used when actually hunting deer. A special license for dog handlers involved in wounded game tracking is required in New York, Vermont, and Maine, as is a difficult written test and a $125 licensing fee. All states except Texas require that the dogs work on leash.
If blood tracking is something that might appeal to you and your dachshund, various organizations, such as Deer Search, Inc., offer training apprenticeships, in which you will follow an experienced blood-tracking dog/handler team to learn the ropes. You will also handle a trained and seasoned dog on several blood tracks to gain a further understanding of how a handler can help a dog and also hinder it. Blood tracking is also taught and tested by NATC.
Dachshunds can begin training for this skill as early as ten weeks of age. Training the dachshund to blood track involves laying progressively longer and more complex trails with deer blood, eventually graduating to tracking live, wounded deer.