Can a dog be trained to find money? Yes you can. But that would be useless under normal circumstances. Most of the money found would be owned by 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 have chosen something of great value, ginseng. Ginseng root sells, per pound, more than any legal product I can think of. I remember my dad making over $1500.00 just for a little shoebox full of that stuff in the late 70’s.
Hunting ginseng is not only a very lucrative hobby, it is also excellent exercise for both you and your dog. Personally, I love any excuse to cheat in the woods.
So let’s continue with this great plan to earn money so you can get yours.
01. Find a good puppy.
A good nose is probably not that important since almost any dog has a sniffer capable of locating ginseng. You would think that a hunting dog would be a good candidate, but that is often not the case. A hunting dog, true to his nature, could easily be distracted by game. It is important that the puppy you choose is friendly, intelligent and playful. These traits are more important than your sense of smell. All dogs have a keen sense of smell. Sniffer dogs think of their work as play. The more playful the puppy, the better worker it will be. In my experience, female dogs have always been easier to train as they are not as stubborn and stubborn as males. Note: I would avoid any toy breeds or non-working breeds of dogs. Retrievers and certain herding and athletic breeds of dogs are your best bet. High-energy, nervous dogs like Jack Russell terriers are a poor choice. Most bloodhounds do not qualify because they generally have no interest in playing when mature, although beagles are used at some airports with great success. My beagle doesn’t play at all. Others do.
02. Spay or neuter the puppy.
Not to preach, but you want your dog not to be interested in the other gender at the time you want to find ginseng.
03. The first thing you should do is play with your puppy regularly as soon as you are able. His attention span will be short, so keep the game time short. But do it often. The game is the basis of training. The training will focus on the game. Training will be the basis of work. As the puppy matures, teach him a few simple tricks. He would start training as soon as the pup can walk steadily.
I guess the pup knows to come when called. That is almost universal. To teach a puppy to sit, give the command and hold a treat in front of him and while pressing lightly on his bottom, pass the treat over his head to his back. She will automatically sit up trying to observe the treat. When the puppy accomplishes the goal, he praises him as if he has done the greatest thing on earth. Remember not to try to train a puppy with complex tricks if he 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 your puppy masters them.
Next, teach the puppy to shake hands. Have the pup sit and give the command while you lightly grab the paw and go through the motions with it. Soon, the pup will automatically lift its paw. When he 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 just 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 notices it. Dogs can read people’s energy like a book. Even a puppy. Being petty will only counteract any productivity you can expect. The puppy should become your friend for life. If not, I beg you to forget this whole program. Money is not everything.
4. Eventually we get to the critical part of the training.
Learning to play fetch. Most puppies pick this up quickly. Especially retrievers and certain herding and athletic breeds of dogs. The object of the chase should be a tennis ball or any hollow ball that you can fit ginseng root into. Review all the exercises learned by the puppies and then present the ball. Tease the pup with him, but don’t do it too much. You want to keep the puppies’ trust. Throw the ball. When the puppy picks it up, call it. If the puppy refuses to approach you, turn around and walk away. Puppies hate that and she will probably run after you because you might stop playing. If you have the ball, take it out of your mouth and repeat the game. NEVER go after the ball if the dog drops it. Just walk away. If you go to get the ball for the dog, you will have given him control of the game. You can’t afford this. Just walk away and try again in the next session. This is where patience is paramount. 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. Put your hands behind your back with a piece of ginseng in one hand. Present your fists. Ask the puppy in an excited tone where he is. When the dog sniffs the hand with the ginseng, praise it to the heavens. At this point, it’s okay if he messes up. You are simply teaching the dog the importance of the right scent. If he smells the wrong hand, keep quiet and wait until he smells the right hand. It is important that you keep a poker face and do not give visual clues as to where the ginseng is. And keep it friendly.
5. Later, when he has mastered the guessing game, give the command to sit when he chooses the correct hand and praise him. We want it to feel like an indication that you’ve found ginseng. We want this response to ginseng in all future exercises.
6. At this point we hide the ginseng in one of the three containers that are identical. Line them up in front of her and play the guessing game. When you get the hang of this, spread the containers further apart and move 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, he slows down or shortens training periods until he gets it right. He may have to back off the training a bit.
7. Another game involves the hollow ball.
Cut up a tennis ball or any hollow ball and put some ginseng in it. Throw the ball in sight of the dog and let it go into a bush, under or behind any obstacle within reason and let him find it.
8. For this exercise hide the piece of ginseng out in the open but out of sight. Tall grass works well. With the dog on a leash, join him as he 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 let him search for the ginseng. Be patient. From time to time, take her to places where you know there is ginseng and see if she can find it. At first, literally take it directly to the ginseng. At least five or ten feet from him. Then take her to wherever she is the furthest away until she is ready to go out with you and find that money.
It may be best to have the dog bark when it sits down in case it won’t be in sight when you find the ginseng. I personally 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 smallest amount to train your dog. This material is expensive. You can get by with commercial ginseng, but I’ve never tried it. This program can be modified to meet your needs and those of the puppies. A different approach may work better for your dog. Always keep it fun. If you or your puppy are frustrated or tired, take a break or leave the session. Never scold the dog for training or hunting mistakes. Try to isolate the cause and eliminate the problem.
Remember to spay or neuter your pet. It is good for its purpose here. I have found that the more pets you have, the less appreciated pets become. Buyers of ginseng can be found on the Internet. We used to sell to Hamilton Bros. in Canada. I’m not sure if they are in the business anymore. There are usually local brokers who handle it, but you won’t get as much for it. In West Virginia, at least, ginseng has a legal hunting season. Better check the laws in your state before you go hunting. Ginseng must be air-dried before it is sold.
Some dishonest people put lead in their ginseng root to make it heavier. Do not try. They will catch you if you do.