D Coonhound Logic U
How Coonhounds Think
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Training Update

Training     Heeling     Loose Leash Walking

So you're probably here because a coonhound has taken up residence in your home and rather than buy one of those expensive anti-coonhound aerosol sprays (they damage the environment) you've decided to just try to live with it. That's a noble gesture, but if you really want to be a hero you'll go out and adopt another one because they really enjoy company.

Coonhounds don't start off thinking. When they are puppies (the first 5-7 years) they have heads full of mush and they must be trained or they'll start training themselves, and you don't want that. Training a coonhound requires vast amounts of pork, money, chicken, time, Zuke's Mini Naturals, patience, clickers and a bag full of little bits of your sanity which you'll be doling out frequently until it is gone. Teaching a coonhound to think can be as easy or as difficult as the coonhound can make it. It is always easier to start off by teaching a coonhound things that coonhounds are good at doing. So...eating, sleeping, and farting spring to mind. Lets look at eating.

Eating:    Them coonhounds seem to like food. This is what we call 'food motivated'. If your coonhound is not food motivated, then it is a German Shepherd and you are on the wrong page. Ideally, you will want to begin feeding your coonhound shortly after you get him. Within a week or so. What you feed them is not as important as how you feed them. The basics of training are this: the dog does something you want and you give him a small treat. Usually a tiny bite of something yummy. An entire bowl of dog food is like...well...an entire bowl of treats. You should feed your dog at least once a day...twice if you are really feeling frisky. So every day you have at least one really obvious and valuable training opportunity. So when you feed your dog, you should make them do something to earn it. My hounds have tried numerous things to earn that bowl of food. Howling at the top of their lungs. Digging holes in the carpet. Chewing on the curtains. Destroying potted plants. None of those things earned them a bowl of food, so they don't do those things anymore. Within a few days they learn that they have two options that will earn them a bowl of food: sit quietly in a particular place, or lie quietly in a particular place. I don't feed my dogs at a set time because coonhounds can tell time or something. Instead, I designate a time frame in which they are allowed to remind me to feed them. They get fed at a random time between 6pm and 7pm, and they can begin asking me for food at 6pm. I'm not kidding. It annoys the heck out of me when dogs are begging for dinner and it's 2pm. If they ask for food too early, make a big scene out of filling thier bowl and then set it on a shelf where they can't get it and ignore them until 7pm and then feed them. If you are creative enough, you can shape all sorts of behaviors around meal time with nothing more than a bowl full of food. That bowl is the most powerful motivational tool you will ever use with your coonhound, and you'll use it every day. It is a wasted opportunity to just set the bowl down and walk away. The simple behaviors and commands you can shape just by feeding your dog every day goes on and on: sit, stay, down, off, leave it, shake, touch, wait, watch...

Training:  The reason I train my hounds to do various things is simple: Training a dog builds a bond with that dog.  I don't really care that much if my dog can shake hands or find birch scent in a box or track a human a half mile or heel with perfect attention. Those things are nice, but the main motivation for training my dogs is to build a better bond with them. Simple training builds a dialogue between you and the hound and you begin to understand each other better. Good behaviors are enhanced and bad behaviors are diminished. This is the holistic approach to solving all of your problems with your dogs. Spend enough time with them, and use that time to build a relationship, and problems go away. They learn to trust you and you, them.

Coonhound Logic