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Contact information
For information on the dog training and trialing, contact:
Jaqi Christopher
Assistant upland ecologist
Bureau of Wildlife Management
608-261-8458

Dog training and trialing

training

Training a gun dog with live birds increases the likelihood of a successful harvest of game during the hunting season.

Dog training has deep roots in hunting and conservation culture. In order to develop dogs that can reliably hunt and recover game, it is vital to train with a variety of game under varying conditions. It is important that dog trainers and clubs know the rules concerning use of game during training to both support wildlife conservation and stay out of trouble with the law. Many state and federal laws and regulations apply to the importation, possession, use and disposal of game used in training and field events. These rules serve two general purposes: to protect the health and welfare of native wildlife populations in Wisconsin, and to ensure that hunting regulations are enforceable.

Dog training refers to any teaching or exercising activity involving sporting dogs in which the primary purpose is to enhance field and/or water performance. Sporting dogs are utilized for hunting game birds and game mammals and include breeds as pointers, setters, retrievers and hounds.

Regulations governing the training of sporting dogs vary according to what species the dogs are being trained with and where the training takes place. In addition, the department also issues permits for dog trials occurring on both public and private land.

Map - Dog training areas

Map of dog training areasDog training on state land is allowed on designated Class I and Class II dog training grounds. Class I grounds are open year-round for dog training activities and trainers may use equine animals on approved land. Class II grounds are those areas approved for dog training, but may have specific regulations. Many Class II areas are closed for the nesting season, April 15-July 31. Use the training areas map and the dog training areas by county PDF to find your nearest training ground and see site-specific regulations.

License types

Do you need a permit to train your dog or conduct a field trial? [PDF]

Bird dog training license

Anyone who intends to possess and use captive bred quail of the subfamily odontophorinae, gray partridge, chukar partridge, red-legged partridge, mallard duck and pheasants of the species phasianus colchicus or syrmaticus reevesii for dog training purposes needs to apply for a bird dog training license.

Hound dog training license

Anyone who intends to possess and use captive bobcat, coyote, fox, raccoons or rabbits for dog training purposes, and use captive black bear possessed under the authority of a captive wild animal farm license for dog training purposes needs to have a hound dog training license.

Dog club training license

An organization that owns or leases land for the purpose of training bird dogs or hound dogs to retrieve, point, flush or track game needs a dog club training license to authorize the club members to possess and use captive wild pheasants of the species phasianus colchicus or syrmaticus reevesii, quail of the subfamily odontophorinae, gray partridge, chukar partridge, red-legged partridge and mallard ducks that are bred in captivity for bird dog training. A dog club training license authorizes the club members to possess and use captive wild bobcat, coyote, fox, rabbits and raccoons in accordance with the provisions outlined in SS. NR 17.02 (3) [exit DNR] and 17.045 [exit DNR] for hound dog training.

Bird dog trial license

A bird dog trialing license authorizes the licensee and participants in an organized competitive field event that involves sporting dog breeds and that is sanctioned, licensed or recognized by a local, state, regional or national dog organization to possess and use for dog trialing only, captive wild pheasants of the species phasianus colchicus or syrmaticus reevesii, quail of the subfamily odontophorinae, gray partridge, chukar partridge, red-legged partridge and mallard ducks that are bred in captivity.

Hound dog trial license

A hound dog trialing license authorizes the licensee and participants in an organized competitive field event that involves sporting dog breeds and that is sanctioned, licensed or recognized by a local, state, regional or national dog organization to possess and use captive bobcat, coyote, fox, raccoons or rabbits for dog trialing purposes and use captive bear possessed under the authority of a captive wild animal farm license issued under S. 169.15, Stats. [exit DNR], for dog trialing purposes.

Dog training

Permits and designated areas

Dog training permits for bird dogs, hound dogs and dog clubs are required when using certain captive species. Please see the Wisconsin bird dog & dog club training regulations [PDF] for a complete list of species. These permits are valid for private lands and certain DNR owned lands. Sporting dog training on DNR sites is only allowed in designated areas within the property. Search for bird dog training grounds on DNR lands.

General season

The season for training sporting dogs on DNR land is generally August 1-April 14, except for Class I and selected Class II grounds which are open year round. See the property maps for property specific regulations and open dates.

Regulations

License

A DNR dog training license is valid until the third December 31 after the date of issuance. Example: A license issued in June of 2012 is valid until December 31, 2014.

Individuals issued a dog training license are subject to the following requirements:

  • The licensee must be in possession of the license and make the license available to any DNR conservation warden or other authorized DNR agent upon request while engaged in bird dog training.
  • Must train only on the approved DNR properties or other public or private properties with owner's permission. Hound licenses are issued by local DNR property managers.

Reports and record keeping

Each person holding any training or trial license must keep a record by date of all captive wild animals that are purchased, acquired, transferred, have died, been killed or have escaped. Annual reports are required for all license holders as well. Quarterly reports are required for transactions pertaining to bobcat, coyote and fox. See regulations for more details.

Training types

Dog trialing

Bird and hound dog trials

A bird dog trial license authorizes the licensee and participants to engage in an organized competitive field event that involves sporting dog breeds and that is sanctioned, licensed or recognized by a local, state, regional or national dog organization. A bird dog trial license does not authorize commercial shoots involving any of the authorized species or the selling breeding or propagation of bobwhite quail or mallard ducks. Trial licenses are not needed on bird hunting preserves licensed for the use of the same species. A hound dog trial license allows the purchase, possession and use of captive raccoons, rabbits, coyote, fox or bobcat for dog training purposes and use captive black bear possessed under the authority of a captive wild animal farm license for hound dog trials. The license does not authorize commercial shoots or selling, breeding or propagating of animals or training of captive black bear on DNR lands.

Many of the same rules apply to bird and hound dog trial licenses as to the same training licenses. However, captive wild birds released and killed under the authority of a bird dog trial license do not have to be marked prior to release, except for captive bred mallards.

Note: In addition to needing a hound trialing license, a hound dog training enclosure permit is required to possess and use captive wild rabbits/hares, fox or coyote for dog training purposes.

Licenses

A dog trial license is valid until the first December 31 following the date of issuance.

Private lands

Both bird and hound dog trial licenses have the same prohibitions on private lands as the bird and hound dog training licenses.

Public lands

Class I field trial and training grounds are those that are posted, marked or designated where dog trials are allowed year-round, except hunting shall have priority. Class I field trial grounds included the following:

  1. Richard Bong State Recreation Area - the west unit of the special use zone
  2. George W. Mead Wildlife Area
  3. Lower Wisconsin River Wildlife Area - Mazomanie Unit
  4. Southern Kettle Moraine State Forest - Ottawa Unit
  5. Pine Island Wildlife Area

Dog trials may occur on other DNR lands if approved by the local wildlife biologist and determined to be consistent with the master plan, property plan, wildlife management objectives and federal requirements.

Applications should be made before March 1 for trials held on or prior to July 31 and before July 1 for trials held after July 31. Applications will be considered on a first-come first-served basis and must be submitted at least 10 days prior to the date of the trial.

Regulations and applications

Last revised: Tuesday May 23 2017