Many people are not aware of the fact that dogs can be beneficial while looking for mushrooms. Most people see dogs as helpful while hunting, but don’t consider them for mushroom hunting activities. With the right training technics and a little bit of patience, your dog will be a mushroom hunting pro in no time. But how exactly should you go about this?
The hide and seek, the charged mushroom, and the sit and sniff are the most popular training methods to train your dog to look for mushrooms.
This article will explain each of these methods and point you to things you should lookout for a while mushroom hunting with your furry friend.
How do you train the dog to look for mushrooms?
Dogs have an excellent sense of smell. It developed over time since their sense of smell is one of the most important tools to explore the world. For this particular reason, dogs were historically used as helpers while looking for mushrooms. The reason behind this is that dogs are attracted to the earthy aroma mushrooms have. In addition to this, most breeds will be easily trained for this activity since the only thing you need to do is connect their natural curiosity to a verbal command. However, as mushrooms’ demand arose, mushroom farms became a thing, and naturally, this practice fell out of use.
It is important to know that this will only work with only a few types of mushrooms. While training, you should practice with the mushrooms that you want your dog to be able to find. Once you start training, your puppy should comply without much hassle since its natural curiosity should encourage the puppy to perform these tasks. This training process will be based on hunting and seeking commands.
Before you start the training, make sure your puppy has some basic training. The puppy should be able to perform commands like sit, lay down, and similar. To make this process successful, you will need your mushroom of choice, teats, and a quiet and peaceful place to ensure your puppy is fully focused on the task at hand. While training, you should stick to one verbal command which your puppy will associate with the task required from it.
Another thing you should do is educate yourself to be able to distinguish poisonous from nonpoisonous mushrooms. A popular misconception is that dogs can identify poisonous mushrooms due to their heightened sense of smell; however, this cannot be further from the truth. Many poisonous mushrooms have a faint fishy smell that will attract dogs. This is a crucial step because mushroom poisoning can be harmful to dogs and, in some cases, can even cause death.
The hide and seek method is the most commonly used one. It involves using a “decoy” mushroom. The easiest way to make the decoy is to wrap desired mushrooms in a rag or a towel and let them soak up the scent for a day or more. This step can also be done using your puppy’s toy if the material will absorb the scent. Once the decoy is ready, you can start leaving it somewhere your puppy will encounter it easily. If your puppy starts to play with the decoy, praise it and give it a treat. When this behavior becomes consistent, you can start hiding the decoy. If your dog is successful in this step, you can start practicing outside and eventually with real mushrooms.
If your dog has trouble with the hide and seeks method, you should try the charged mushroom method. This method involves hiding treats under a small piece of mushrooms. Once the treat is placed, verbally command your puppy to “go find the mushroom.” The dog will find the mushrooms because the smell of the treat will incentivize them additionally. Once your puppy can perform this task consistently outside, you can progress to hiding the treats inside the patches of mushrooms. After the puppy finds the mushrooms, let him eat the treat, and then give the puppy another while giving verbal praise. Later you should progress to just giving the puppy treats once the mushrooms are found. To avoid your puppy eating the mushrooms, teach the puppy to sit once the mushrooms are found.
The last method is the sit and sniff. The first step you should take is teaching your puppy to sit near the mushroom. For this mushroom, make sure to use a raw mushroom that isn’t harmful to dogs. After the dog sniffs, the mushroom reward it. Progress to hiding mushrooms around your home, and when this task is performed consistently, you can move outside. Once the dog fins, mushrooms reward and praises the puppy.
Can mushrooms be toxic to dogs?
While dealing with mushrooms, you need to be careful to avoid any injuries for your dog. They are quite complicated because certain mushrooms are fine, but others may cause serious damage to your pet. Most wild mushrooms are dangerous for dogs, and store-bought ones that are safe for human consumption are safe for dogs. However, since we really eat plain mushrooms, it is not recommended to give them to dogs because seasonings, garlic, and oils can be harmful. Some of the most harmful types of mushrooms are Amanita phalloides (known colloquially as “death cap”), Galerina marginata (known as “deadly Galerina” or “Galerina autumnalis”), Amanita gemmata (“jeweled death cap”), Amanita muscaria (called “fly agaric” or “Deadly Agaric”) and Gyromitra spp. (false morel).
Symptoms of poisoning
It is hard to tell if your dog has got mushroom poisoning. After all, the symptoms usually indicate other illnesses because the symptoms overlap. These symptoms are also different from mushroom to mushroom, making it more difficult to recognize what is going on. Gastrointestinal toxins will impact the pet’s stomach and are usually followed by abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. Hepatotoxins will attack the liver and cause the failure of the organ. These toxins are especially dangerous because the symptoms don’t show up immediately. Once they do, they are hard to spot and not attributed to the poisoning unless the owners bring attention to the fact that the pet has eaten a mushroom. Nephrotoxins will cause the failure of the kidneys, causing dehydration, nausea, and vomiting. A small number of poisonous mushrooms also produce neurotoxins that act the fastest and cause hallucinations, tremors, disorientation, and seizures.
When dealing with mushroom poisoning, it’s important to work quickly to avoid any serious consequences. The poison can take effect as quickly as 15 minutes or as late as 6 hours.
The first things you will notice are your dog salivating excessively, and the dog’s complexion will turn yellowish. White and clouding eyes will accompany this. Once the mushrooms start to take effect, your dog will exhibit signs of weakness and start to wobble and lose balance. Some dogs will also fall into a coma for a few hours to expel weaker poisons, which can be dangerous, especially if the dog is left unsupervised. This is known as ataxia. The dog will also start to vomit and experience abdominal pain, which is usually when owners usually take their dog to the vet.
If the poisoning is not treated, the dog will suffer organ failure and seizures. Depending on the type of mushroom eaten, your dog could ultimately fall into a coma or even die. In most cases, this can occur during the following 48 hours.
What to do if your dog gets mushroom poisoning?
You can don’t do it on your own in these cases, especially if you have no medical training. Because different mushrooms have different effects and require different treatments, the best step you can take is to take your dog to the veterinarian. It is also useful to bring a piece of the mushroom your dog has eaten to the veterinarian if possible to make the process of identifying easier and the healing process quicker and thus much efficient.
It is also important to keep this sample in non-plastic materials and refrigerate it until examined. The most likely course of action your veterinarian will take is to induce vomiting to make sure the dog expels all the pieces of the mushroom. However, this is only possible if not too much time has passed. If more time has passed, the dog will receive medication that will counteract the poisoning effects. In especially severe cases, the dog will have to be put into a non-fatal coma to aid healing.