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Teaching Dogs to Hunt Truffles


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Before my beloved Josie went to that big sushi bar in the sky, we were lucky enough to bring home Jean-Luc, a regal Basset Hound. His ancestors were bred to track rabbits and forage for truffles. As part of his cultural education, to earn his keep, and to keep his Mamma happy, he should learn how to hunt for truffles.

I know there's a school for this in the U.S. What sticks in my mind is that someplace in New Jersey has a week-long "train your dog to hunt for truffles" school. If there are any other places in the US (or Canada!), I'd love to hear about them.

Google has let me down. I know eG won't. Thanks in advance --

Fabby

edited because I never learn -- posted before full caffeination.

Edited by FabulousFoodBabe (log)
"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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I know there's a school for this in the U.S.  What sticks in my mind is that someplace in New Jersey has a week-long "train your dog to hunt for truffles" school.  If there are any other places in the US (or Canada!), I'd love to hear about them.

<a href="http://www.trifectatraining.com/">Trifecta Training Center</a>, near Eugene, Oregon appear to have truffle dog training, although I don't see anything about a week-long workshop. Might be worth a shot, though.

<a href="http://www.truffleusa.com/index.html">Truffle USA</a> in New Jersey also offers the training, as well as videos for training yourself.

According to the <a href="http://www.natruffling.org/">National Truffling Society</a>, these are the only two truffle dog trainers in the United States. Their website does list a couple overseas, if you feel like going that far.

Good luck!

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Before my beloved Josie went to that big sushi bar in the sky, we were lucky enough to bring home Jean-Luc, a regal Basset Hound.  His ancestors were bred to track rabbits and forage for truffles.  As part of his cultural education, to earn his keep, and to keep his Mamma happy, he should learn how to hunt for truffles. 

Have you looked into obedience training? I think one of the skills learned through it is scent-based. Or maybe that's tracking training.

Either one might be a good precursor to more specialised training, since it opens up the channels of communication between dog and handler.

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Yes, you can train a dog to find morels. I've trained dogs to find some pretty far out stuff beyond narcotics and explosives, such as land mines and even cancer cells for some professor at UC Davis.

Jensen, you are thinking of tracking for scenting in training.

Dave Valentin

Retired Explosive Detection K9 Handler

"So, what if we've got it all backwards?" asks my son.

"Got what backwards?" I ask.

"What if chicken tastes like rattlesnake?" My son, the Einstein of the family.

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Have you looked into obedience training? I think one of the skills learned through it is scent-based. Or maybe that's tracking training.

Either one might be a good precursor to more specialised training, since it opens up the channels of communication between dog and handler.

He's got me pretty well trained already. :wink: He'll be six months old in July; wonder if neutering will affect the olfactory? (geez, that's a big schnoz on this one!) The website speaks of mixed-breed dogs being trained to truffle-find. I always thought the hounds were bred for this -- low to the ground, beeg noses, and those ears.

I'd have never thought of morels, though. This could be great stuff!

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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[He's got me pretty well trained already.  :wink:  He'll be six months old in July; wonder if neutering will affect the olfactory?  (geez, that's a big schnoz on this one!)  The website speaks of mixed-breed dogs being trained to truffle-find.  I always thought the hounds were bred for this -- low to the ground, beeg noses, and those ears.

Neutering has absolutely nothing to do with the offactory senses.

I have no experience training a dog to find truffles, but can tell you that in other forms of detection work it is not the breed of the dog, but rather the drive in the dog, that is a determining factor. That's not to say that in law enforcement we don't prefer some breeds over others. But, when a breed is singled out it is usually for reasons pertaining to the mission, vs the ability to scent.

Dave Valentin

Retired Explosive Detection K9 Handler

"So, what if we've got it all backwards?" asks my son.

"Got what backwards?" I ask.

"What if chicken tastes like rattlesnake?" My son, the Einstein of the family.

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Yes, all dogs will track but some breeds will do better than others at it, not because they are able to smell better, but because their conformation allows them to do it for a prolonged period of time. You wouldn't consider using a pug or a boxer for truffle hunting; they can smell as well as any other dog but their conformation (specifically the muzzle conformation) makes them impractical choices.

It's the same as the breed in which I'm involved...whippets. All dogs will chase a lure but, on a whippet-based track, not one of them will do it faster than a whippet (and that includes greyhounds).

If I were going to get a dog specifically for truffles, I would probably go to either a kennel for working scenthounds or a kennel for working field dogs (springers, labs, what have you...your basic hunting/retrieving dog). I'd look for good feet, a strong muzzle, and a biddable temperament.

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Yay! You got a basset hound!

My mother has one, and while her nose is VERY strong, she's not all that disciplined. Maybe yours will be better. Then again, our basset is spoiled just horribly, and was never made to go to obedience school.

But I hope you're successful! I love bassets! SO CUTE! :wub:

-Sounds awfully rich!

-It is! That's why I serve it with ice cream to cut the sweetness!

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I have tried, for the past two seasons, to teach my standard poodle Simon to hunt morels. Here is my unsuccessful training method:

We walk in the woods and I mutter "mushroom! mushroom! mushroom!" quietly as we go. This is to let him know that we are looking for mushrooms, not just walking for no reason.

I find a morel and I make a big deal of it. I say "MUSHROOM! MUSHROOM!" very happily. Simon comes to investigate. I let him smell the morel. I say "MUSHROOM! MUSHROOM!" and I give him a cookie. This is theoretically to teach him to associate morels with cookies which I assume he would want to do.

We continue.

He does not bother to look for mushrooms at all. Ever. He thinks I am an idiot.

FRENCH poodle? Ha. I think NOT.

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I have tried, for the past two seasons, to teach my standard poodle Simon to hunt morels. Here is my unsuccessful training method:

We walk in the woods and I mutter "mushroom! mushroom! mushroom!" quietly as we go. This is to let him know that we are looking for mushrooms, not just walking for no reason.

I find a morel and I make a big deal of it. I say "MUSHROOM! MUSHROOM!" very happily. Simon comes to investigate. I let him smell the morel. I say "MUSHROOM! MUSHROOM!" and I give him a cookie. This is theoretically to teach him to associate morels with cookies which I assume he would want to do.

We continue.

He does not bother to look for mushrooms at all. Ever. He thinks I am an idiot.

FRENCH poodle? Ha. I think NOT.

Do you get the cookie, then? :wink:

I wonder if we can do some inside-the-house sessions, with little hidden mushrooms here and there, to start.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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You know, I figured out that Simon is just so not interested in stupid games. He doesn't fetch, he doesn't swim, he doesn't do anything really dog-like. My husband is disgusted with him and I keep hoping that maybe because he's a poodle I can possibly get through to him, culinarily. That's why the morel hunting.

But really, in the fall when the big (disgusting) puffballs are everywhere - as easy to find as a sheep in a bathtub - he doesn't even notice those. I think maybe I need a Labrador retriever.

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Check it:

These folks are in North Carolina. They have successfully propagated black Perigord truffles, using inoculated hazelnut trees. And they train truffle dogs!

Garland Truffles

"Harvest season is mid November through mid March. Specially trained dogs are used for harvesting the truffles. We offer dog training service, as well as all technical consultation services associated with cultivation. For a free brochure, or an instructional booklet ($15 includes s&h), please contact Garland Gourmet Mushrooms & Truffles, Inc. at one of the following:

3020 Ode Turner Road

Hillsborough, NC 27278

Phone: 919.732-3041

Fax: 919.732.6037

Email: truffles@garlandtruffles.com"

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I LOVE BASSET HOUNDS, you are so lucky!

i once spent a little time in the village of apt in provence, at the first truffle market of the year, the one in which they set the prices for the season, anyhow, there was a woman with wonderful truffles who gave me a little lecture on how to hunt them: it involves a sock and a truffle, the first day you play with the sock and the truffle.

the second or so day you throw it further, and keep playing. by about day 3 or 4 you bury the sock and truffle under the living room rug, and let doggy root for it.

then the next day you take the game outside, and repeat, throwing the sock further and further, then you lightly bury the sock, and i'm not sure the exact segue into the dog digging for the truffle but you get the picture,

oh yes, and each time they doggy fetches the sock and truffle you give it a little sniff of salami, or maybe a taste, this was a few seasons ago and we were drinking quite a bit of wine.

only one thing better than a basset house would be a truffle hunting basset hound.

you know perigueux and the surrounding area is famous for its truffles and hounds, and everyone has their own methods. ditto for parts of italy.

i've always wanted to truffle train a pooch.

good luck!

marlena

Marlena the spieler

www.marlenaspieler.com

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FRENCH poodle? Ha. I think NOT.

The problem with poodles especialy the standards is that they're too smart to play our games. YOU look for & find the morels. HE gets a cookie without effort. Who's winning here.

I speak from experience as we're now with our third standard poodle, Rupert. He's beginiing to shape up at 20 months old. I'll maybe start to truffle train him this fall when the season begins. We're lucky enough to live in truffle country.

Roop is already a great forager. He's into cherries currently, any that the birds drop from the tree. He's also, in season, a great picker of blackberries. (like Simon, however, if you'll do the picking for him he'll let you) He's also partial to wild plums. His absolute favorite, however, is walnuts. As soon as they fall he's on them. The only way I get any is to shake the tree so there's lots. I keep picking up while he finds & eats one at a time. For once I'm ahead of him.

By the way poodles are not French, but German. In fact standards are very rare here in France. Believe me the "canich Royal" always attracts lots of admirers when he comes to market with us. Roop's English bred.

Maybe not appropriate, but if I can figure out how to I'll post a picture.

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