Using dogs to hunt raccoons and many other game animals has been a popular sport for hundreds of years in the U.S. But, like most tricks, it is not something that any breed of dog knows how to do without the proper training, in much the same way as humans must learn to walk. Today, training a coon dog to track is not just something that is left strictly to hunters. There are national hunting and tracking competitions with substantial prizes to be won. It all starts out with teaching your dog the basics and then moving on to training your dog to track.
When it comes to teaching your pup how to track coons, you need to teach him far more than just how to track the raccoon. You must first teach him to get into your truck and, if you use one, into his dog box. Depending on the dog, this can take a few weeks until he is comfortable. Most trainers use a command such as "load up" or "get in" to ensure their dog knows what is expected. Once your dog has mastered this relatively easy command, it will be time to move on to training him to track.
Since most dogs love to go for rides, teaching them to load up should not take very long, but until your dog is able to get into the vehicle on his own, you may have to assist him. The important thing to keep in mind here is that you need to make it exciting in such a way that your dog looks forward to getting in the truck and going for a ride. Dog treats are a good way to get him started, along with plenty of praise when he gets it right. You can teach a dog at virtually any age to do this, but the younger you start them out, the faster they learn.
Before getting started, you will need to lay in a couple of basic supplies that will be used to train your pup to track coons successfully.
Training a coon dog to track definitely takes plenty of patience and should be done in an open, grassy area where there are minimal distractions at first. Remember that just as you did when teaching your dog the basics, you need to maintain a firm and authoritative voice when teaching him to track. The most important thing to remember is that most dogs love to track things by scent, but certain breeds like Blue Tick, Black and Tan, Redbone, and English coonhounds are particularly well-suited to tracking.
You should plan to start training your coon dog when he is approximately five weeks old. While your pup may not be capable of much at this age, it is the perfect time to start teaching him the basic commands. This training should include commands such as heel, sit, and stay. You can use dog treats and plenty of verbal praise to help him learn these commands. The reality is that if you can't get your dog to respond to the simple commands, he may not do well with learning how to track coons.
Here are three different methods used by experts to train coon hounds to track their quarry successfully. No matter which of them you decide to use, be sure to use a simple command such as "follow" or "go get 'em" something your dog will learn to associate with the need to track his prey.
It’s obvious he is trained like a true hunting dog. He is more than house trained, hasn’t barked or bayed to anyone’s knowledge, previously neutered, newly chipped and knows how to be in charge!. Every time walking on a leash outside, is a full blown track straight out the door. I’m afraid to let him run free to do his thing since he doesn’t respond to a name. What is the chance he is an e-collar trained hunting dog and I’m the only one who doesn’t know the system to make him happy and return when called?
Hello Jeremy, I suggest hiring a trainer who is extremely familiar with e-collar training to help you find out or teach him if you desire. It is possible he is trained but he might also just have strong prey instincts and have wandered off - this is common with hounds. If he was a hunting dog, he might have been trained in preliminary obedience for hunting but not on the e-collar yet, then run off before learning it. He should show some signs of understanding obedience when not on the scent of something. E-collar trained dogs are taught normal obedience also and then proofed with the e-collar to ensure reliability during times of high distraction. He likely needs training still. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
I forgot to add the introduction. Sorry!. I just yesterday rescued a purebred redbone coonhound from a city shelter. He was transported across state lines from West Virginia. This info may help in your response. Thanks
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I just purchased a year old coon dog and he wants nothing to do with a coon. I have researched pup training but nothing seems to work . Do you have any suggestions? Thanks in advance .
Hello Benjamin, If you have practiced with dead coons, pelts, and scent to no avail, then he probably needs to be safely exposed to the real thing to become interested. If you have any friends with coon dogs, then bringing him along on one of their hunts on a long leash would help him become interested in them. You can also trap one and expose him to that coon in a cage, but don't let him actually touch it because of the risk of rabies. The idea is simply to get him excited and him lots of verbal praise for any interest. Expect him to be nervous about them at first, expose him often to help him build confidence. If he has proven that he is not interested in real coons also, then you will need to motivate him to track in other ways. Treats are an obvious choice for motivation if he is interested in food. Anything he likes that is portable will work though. You can use a scented coon pelt and teach him to find that by scent and reward him with treats when he does. The treats will always be his motivation hunting, so he may not be as strong of a tracker, but if you only occasionally need him to track he should be able to learn without interest in coons. The idea is similar to training a duck hunting dog to force fetch something, which is bring you something even when they do not want to. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
If your dog loves other dogs (and not coons) have you considered training him to find lost pets instead? You'd potentially give him a job he loves AND be able to help save the lives of other dogs and help families in need. Google "Train Your Dog to Find Lost Pets" for more details on training a MAR (missing animal response) K9. Good luck with Buster!
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