Ask a CO: Can you train a dog by flushing game during a closed season?

by Editorial Staff | July 29, 2021
A game bird stands in tall grass in the foreground while a brown hunting dog waits in the background peering from behind.

Q: Some gun-dog owners are under the impression that they are legally able to pursue game birds outside of the open hunting seasons in order to train their dogs, like having them point or flush grouse in the spring and summer, as long as no birds are harvested or injured. However, I understand that this would meet the definition of hunting during a closed season, and be an illegal practice. Is this legal? – Nathan Schoelier, St. Marys

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Authorization needed

A: You are correct that this would constitute hunting and would therefore generally be illegal during the closed season for game mammals and game birds. However, a person could obtain an authorization to conduct closed season dog training on varying hare, cottontail, or game birds other than wild turkey. Field trials during the closed season also require this authorization. Authorizations are valid for a specified period of time and location. Participants may not kill or capture any wildlife, nor can they carry firearms. Applications can be submitted to the MNRF office for the area where the dog training or field trial is being requested.

David Critchlow, Provincial Enforcement Specialist, MNRF

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Originally published in the August 2020 issue of Ontario OUT of DOORS magazine. Ask a CO is also a regular feature in the print edition.

Please check the most recent Ontario hunting and fishing regulations summaries, as rules and regulations can change.

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