Hound hunting is a sport that requires a lot of time, effort and most of all great hounds to pursue the animal of your choice. There is a great amount of time that is required to achieve a top dog and endless effort from the houndsmen. There will be many hours of training that goes into training your pup and countless mistakes. It’s a sport that requires a lot of patience and time.
Selective breeding plays a key role in in the potential for a dogs overall success. Key genetics such as a dogs nose for a keen sense of smell for tracking, a dogs drive to want to hunt even when the situation gets tough and the strength endurance that a dog has to last and stay in the whole race. This doesn’t mean that every pup will inherit every trait, but the chances are that much higher.
The pups first year is crucial in many ways. This is the time to socialize your pup with the other dogs that she will be hunting with. Let the pup explore her surroundings such as the woods and introduce her to bodies of water and gun shots, it will give her the confidence she needs to hunt on her own. Teach her commands, such as “Load” and “No” and “Come”. A pup that obeys commands is much easier to work with. A good tool to use in the training process is a training collar. Most training collars have a tone and shock button on them. Once the pup knows her simple commands the tone and shock is to just reinforce if they decide to disobey. It reminds them that you are still in control even if you are out of reach of them.
Start training your pup by doing drag lines with them at an early age such as 4-6 months. Take a rag with some scent on it and drag it on the ground and through the woods with a marked out path. Put your pup on a lead and walk the drag line with them. Remember to put the training collar on also. Start out with a short drag and work into longer lines. You always want to keep your dogs attention and make sure she stays focused. Remember she is still a pup and may not stay focused for long. As your pup gets older and stays focused on the drag line with a lead, try creating a drag line and allow her to follow it off the lead. If she overruns it give her a minute to see if she will come back and correct herself. If she does not call her back and put her on where she left off. Give your pup praise when she does well, it’s a bond you want to create with her. This does not happen overnight. It is a continuous effort on the houndsmens behalf. It takes a lot of time, mistakes and patience.
When the pup is old enough to keep up with the broke dogs try letting her run a hot track with them. Wait until you know that it’s jumped for sure. It may or may not take a few times for her to want to go with them. When she decides to jump in the pursuit this is the time she will watch the other dogs and learn from them. She will want to smell what they are smelling and over time it will come together. She will get excited from hearing them bark and will learn what to do just by going with them. She may not be able to stay in the whole pursuit the first year, but by allowing her to go when she can will keep her interested.
You will figure out with time whether she is a jump dog and whether or not she can start a track or is just simply going to be a turn in dog. Over time you will also be able to tell if she has a cold nose or just a nose. You will find out what each dog is good at and use them in that area. It will make your hunts much more enjoyable. Learn your dogs bark and know whether they are still tracking the animal, have it jumped or have it treed.
Hound hunting is a very rewarding sport. Just in the sense of knowing how much time and effort went into each pup.Not every pup will turn out but when they do the excitement is overwhelming. It’s the feeling of knowing that you and your dog have achieved your goal and can only get better from that point on.