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Make Money Having Fun with Your Dog
Can a dog be trained to find money? Yes it can. But that would prove useless under normal circumstances. Most of the money found would be the property of others. Unless, of course, you were looking for buried treasure or relics. Remember that a dog can be trained to sniff out anything from drugs to weapons. For our article I chose something very valuable, ginseng. The ginseng root sells, per pound, for more than any legal product I can think of for free. I remember my father getting over $1500.00 just for a small shoebox full of the stuff in the late seventies.
Ginseng hunting is not only a very profitable hobby, but also great exercise for you and your dog. Personally, I love any excuse to fool around in the woods.
So let’s continue this great money making plan so you can get yours.
01. Find a good puppy.
A good nose is probably not that important, since almost every dog has a sniffer capable of finding ginseng. You would think that a hunting dog would be a good candidate but that is usually not the case. A hunting dog, true to its nature, could easily be distracted by a game. It is important that the puppy you choose is friendly, intelligent and playful. These traits are more important than their sense of smell. All dogs have a keen sense of smell. Scent dogs think of their work as play. The more playful the puppy is the better worker it will be. In my experience dogs have always been easier to train because they are not as stubborn or stubborn as the males. Note: I would avoid any toy breeds or non-working breeds of dogs. Retrievers and certain herding and athletic dog breeds are your best bet. Nervous, high energy dogs like Jack Russell terriers are a poor choice. Most greyhounds do not qualify because they usually have no interest in playing when mature, although beagles are used at some airports with great success. My beagle won’t play at all. Others do.
02. Have the puppy spayed or neutered.
Don’t be preachy, but it’s in your best interest if your dog isn’t interested in the other sex at the time you want to find ginseng.
03. The first order of business is to play with your puppy regularly as soon as you can. Their attention span will be short, so keep play time short. But do it often. Play is the basis for training. Training will be centered around a game. Training will be the foundation for work. As the puppy matures, teach it some simple tricks. I would start training as soon as the puppy can walk consistently.
I guess the puppy knows to come when called. This one is almost universal. To teach a puppy to sit, give the command and hold a treat in front of her and while you lightly squeeze her rear pass the treat over her head to her back. She will sit automatically trying to look at the treat. When the puppy accomplishes the goal praise her like she did the greatest thing on earth. Remember not to try to train a puppy complex tricks if she is too young to learn them. We want to keep the training simple at first. Always reinforce what the puppy has learned by going over each trick every day after they are mastered by your puppy.
Then teach the puppy to shake hands. Have the puppy sit and give the command while you take the paw lightly and go through the motions with her. Soon the puppy will automatically raise its paw. When she does, reward her.
Note: Remember that puppies are like children. Physical punishment will ruin a good working dog. Puppies are also like people in that some learn faster than others and that dogs have individual personalities like anyone else. Patience and consistency are the most important traits you can have. If the training is not fun for the dog, you are doing it too long or you have a bad attitude and the dog senses it. Dogs can read people’s energy like a book. Even a puppy. Being in a bad spirit will only counteract any productivity you can hope for. The puppy should become your lifelong friend. If not, I ask you to forget this whole program. Money is not everything.
4. Finally we arrive at the critical part of the training.
Learn to play fetch. Most puppies pick up on this quickly. Especially retrievers and certain shepherds and athletic breeds of dogs. The target of the chase should be a tennis ball or any hollow ball that you can stuff ginseng into. Go through all the learned puppy exercises and then introduce the ball. Tease the puppy with it but don’t tease too much. You want to keep the puppies’ confidence. Throw the ball. When the puppy takes it, call her to you. If the puppy refuses to come to you, turn around and walk away. Puppies hate that and she will probably run after you because you might stop playing. If she has the ball, remove it from her mouth and repeat the game. NEVER go get the ball if the dog drops it. Just stop. If you take the ball for the dog, you will have given her control of the game. You can’t afford this. Just walk away and try it again at the next session. This is where patience is most important. This is where the type of dog you have becomes apparent. This may or may not take longer than the other exercises you teach your dog.
Now play the guessing game. This exercise emphasizes the importance of smell. Place your hands behind your back with a piece of ginseng in one hand. Present your fists. Ask the puppy in an excited tone where it is. When the dog smells the hand with the ginseng in it praise her to the high heavens. At this point it’s okay if she’s wrong. You are only teaching the dog the importance of the right scent. If she sniffs the wrong hand shut up and wait until she sniffs the right hand. It’s important that you keep a poker face and don’t give visual clues as to where the ginseng is. And keep it friendly.
5. Then when the guessing game is mastered, give the sit command when she chooses the right hand and praise her. We want her to sit as an indication that she found the ginseng. We want this response to ginseng in all future exercises.
6. At this point we hide the ginseng in one of three containers that are identical. Place them in a row in front of her and play the guessing game. When this is mastered, move the containers further by moving the ginseng to a different container each time you play. Do this until the containers can be hidden anywhere in the room and the dog can find them. Do not rush this process. It’s exciting but you don’t want to jeopardize your progress at this point. If the dog makes mistakes slow down the pace or shorten the training periods until she gets it. You may have to back off the workout a bit.
7. Another game involves the hollow ball.
Cut a tennis ball or any hollow ball and put some ginseng in it. Throw the ball in the dog’s sight and let it go into a bush, under or behind any obstacle within reason and let her find it.
8. For this exercise hide the piece of ginseng in the open but out of sight. Tall grass works well. With the dog on a leash go with her as she searches for the ginseng.
9. Over time hide the ginseng by putting dirt on it and let her find it.
10. Finally, dig a shallow hole and allow her to search for the ginseng. be patient Sometimes take her to places where you know ginseng is found and see if she can find it. At first literally take her straight to the ginseng. At least within five or ten feet of it. Then take her to where it’s further away until she’s ready to go out with you and find that money.
It may be better to have the dog bark when she sits if she is out of sight when she finds the ginseng. Personally I have trouble teaching a dog to “talk”. Some breeds are more vocal than others. This is where many bird dogs fail and other breeds excel.
Use only the tiniest amount to train your dog. This stuff is expensive. You can get by with commercial ginseng but I’ve never tried it. This program can be modified to meet you and the puppies needs. Another approach may work better for your dog. Always keep it fun. If you or your puppy is frustrated or tired, take a break or stop the session. Never blame the dog for training or chasing mistakes. Try to isolate the cause and eliminate the problem.
Remember that your pet is spayed or neutered. It is good for your purpose here. I have found that the more pets one has the less valued the pets become. Buyers for ginseng can be found on the internet. We used to sell to Hamilton Bros. in Canada. I’m not sure if they are in business anymore. There are usually local middlemen who handle it, but you won’t get that much for it. In West Virginia, at least, ginseng has a legal hunting season. Better check the laws in your state before you hunt. Ginseng must be air dried before selling it.
Some dishonest people put lead in their ginseng to make it heavier. Don’t try it. They will catch you if you do it.
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