D Coonhound Logic U
How Coonhounds Learn

            Coonhound training is an art and a science. An understanding of behavior and learning concepts helps. Learning and training are the same thing. The basic ways that you learned things are the same ways that dogs learn them: you start with easy problems and have successes that give you confidence to solve more complicated problems. For instance, you begin learning your A-B-Cs and then you learn how words are constructed and then you read 'See Spot Run' and eventually you are reading Greek tragedies. Imagine it as a pyramid with successive layers. You build upon each layer only after you have completely mastered the current one. Having success while learning is important in understanding each new skill before moving on to the next one, so students are always set up to succeed. So for example if we were to teach 'sit' in this context, we might start by teaching the mechanics of sitting to the dog while in the carpeted living room and reinforce that until it is second nature, and then teach sitting on the linoleum in the kitchen. Then teach sitting in the living room with the cat present. Then teach sitting in the kitchen with the cat and another dog there. Then teach sitting outside in the yard. Then on the sidewalk. See if you can teach your dog to sit in a mud puddle. Some of mine will, some refuse. I don't make them do pointless things if they don't want to...lol. This is the same as the way you learned to read. The mechanics of it were the easy part. Then you read 300 books that one year in 4th grade for the book drive. That's the eqiuvalent of the dog learning to sit in 300 different situations and contexts. Of course, the 300th book was easier than the 1st one. Once you get good at learning then it's a breeze. Your coonhound learns the same way.

                There is, however, another dynamic at play here. This is never simply about how coonhounds learn. There is also the relationship that you have with your coonhound. When you were growing up, you probably had a lot of teachers. Your parents, maybe brothers and sisters, school teachers, ect. You might have even developed strong relationships with some of them based on the things you learned from them. I loved my grandfather, he passed away in 1979. When I remember him, it is always us fishing. He taught me to fish when I was very young. We naturally develop very strong and lifelong bonds with those who teach us important skills, especially when we are young. Hounds are the same. Your hound won't have nearly as many teachers as you had. He will likely only have you. There is no limit to the strength of the bond you can have with your hound. The more you train and teach and work with your dog, the stronger your bond will grow and everything you do will become easier. This is the real secret behind good positive training. This is the real reason we teach our dogs...it helps to build a stronger bond with them. It helps to connect and communicate with them. Teaching a dog to fetch or shake hands or wave or limp or kiss isn't pointless. It is all time spent with the dog building a bond. When you are teaching a dog, you are really with that dog. Some people think spending time with their dog means going for a walk, or sitting on the couch with the dog. But it is easy for your mind to wander and now instead of sharing time with your dog, you are thinking about your day or watching TV. It can be difficult to build a bond like that. To effectively teach your dog, you have to invest some time and focus...it is not a passive activity like walking or sitting on the couch. You are engaged with your dog in a way that you otherwise wouldn't be. You are communicating with your dog when you otherwise wouldn't be.

                The more you teach your dog, the more the dog will be capable of learning. Just like you. If you learn addition and subtraction and stop there, you will never learn calculus. However, if you keep learning math and keep advancing to and solving more difficult problems eventually you will learn calculus. This may seem obvious, but a lot of people are convinced that their dog can't learn a given behavior. Most dogs are capable of learning to do almost anything they are physically capable of doing. For most dogs, the main limitation to their ability to learn is the skill of their teacher. Pretty much the same goes for people, too. Fortunately, the more you teach your dog, the more skilled you will become at teaching your dog. So everyone benefits when you teach your dog, even if you aren't good at it. That's okay, just have fun and don't worry about it because as long as you remain happy and keep your goals realistic, the bond building will happen and the skills and the learning will come along eventually, too. It is very rewarding to learn how to train dogs and watch as your skills develop and your dogs gain confidence.


Coonhound Logic