The Coon Dog is an America English dog which very active and very athletic. It is like a big fur ball of energy and is always ready to be on the go. They are the perfect partners who love to live active. Before we talk about how to train a Coon Dog to be your best friend till death does them apart, here are a few things that you must know about them.
Things about Coon dogs you should know:
They Were Born To Hunt Raccoons
Speaking of the name of the Coon Dog, the coon actually means raccoon. In some areas, they are used to hunt both raccoons and foxes. But mostly, they specialise in hunting raccoons.
George Washington Might Have Contributed To Their Breeding
There are pieces of evidence that George Washington, the first President of the United States of America was one of the few people who bred an America English Coonhound. He was fond of fox hunting and there are high chances that he bred foxhounds.
Find Them On Trees
Of all their unique features, this one is probably the cutest. An American English Coonhound can climb trees. As they were trained to hunt raccoons, they eventually developed the ability to climb trees. With little assistance, they can master their ability.
American English Coonhound Won The First Major Coon Dog Trial
Coon Dog Trial is a contest where judges test the ability of the dogs to chase raccoons. The contest was won by an American English Coonhound.
They love to talk with their humans. Well, obviously not literally. But they love their human-dog little talks and are one of the most talkative dog breeds.
Turns out that the red hair is not only a thing for humans. Red coat colour is the most common colour for coon dogs and hence are also known as Redtick Coonhounds.
Why Train Coon Dogs To Hunt Raccoons?
Raccoons are the wild animals that can be very well adjusted to urban areas with a decent human population and create a nuisance for their human neighbours. They take charge over the residences and vandalise everything and anything they can. They prey on pets and chickens. They are also the carrier for many diseases like giardiasis, salmonella, rabies and many more. They can not only cause serious health hazards to other animals but humans too. They tend to over-populate and can be a threat to the people living nearby especially when they are hungry. To avoid this, hunting raccoons and removing them from the humanly populated areas, can be a safe option.
Raccoons have been a big concern since generations and getting them hunted by dogs come cheap. Any dog irrespective for the breed can be trained to hunt raccoons, but Coon dogs are developed especially for this purpose.
How to Train a Coon Dog to Hunt?
Prep Your Dog For The Hunt
When you want to train a coon dog to hunt, it is very important that you start young. Start training your coondog when it is just a puppy. A coon puppy around 5 to 8 weeks of age can be taken out on walks and learnt the smell of raccoons. However, you must remember that a dog that young shouldn’t be allowed to encounter the live raccoon. It is important to start by tracking the smell of Raccoon. Your dog should learn to look at the trees to track the smell and chase the raccoon on trees.
Hunting and chasing of the raccoons are usually done by a pack of dogs. It is to be taken care of that you train your dog to track raccoons by the smell of them and not by the sight. Raccoons are very naughty and playful they can be very tricky to find by sight. You will need to keep guiding your dog while you are training them. But make sure that you are not punishing them for mistakes because this could very saddening and discouraging for your dog.
When you start training young, it is very common for your dog to get excited when it sees or smells a raccoon and starts following it. But remember, always be around your dog while it runs. Hunting and chasing of the raccoons should be done by mature dogs in packs. A small puppy can get injured or lost in the wild.
It will be helpful if you consult a professional before you start training your dog or research really good because any mistake can turn the tables and discourage your dog. You can start with Raccoon scents that are available in the market to familiarise your dog with the Raccoon smell.
For the safety of your dog, you must have a good leash hold and basic commands like sit, stand, stop, etc., so you can protect your dog from being hurt. Take your dog out on long walks in the woods so it familiarizes itself with the new surrounding. They should be familiar with the sounds of the gun so they don’t get scared. You can also use tracking collars available in the market so you can track your dog while it wanders around open areas to look for raccoons. But remember, always be around your little puppy hunter.
Methods Of Training Coon Dogs
The Scent Trails Method
The scent is one of the best ways to teach your dog to chase a raccoon. You can buy raccoon smells sprays available in the market. You can spray it on an old cloth or a dummy.
You can also buy carcasses from the market but you’ll have to get fresh ones regularly as the old one will start to rot soon.
Once you are ready with the dummy or the carcass, let your puppy play with it so they can get it used to the smell. Keep rewarding your puppy when they show interest in the dummy and play around. Make sure to take the drag or dummy away when your puppy starts to lose interest. Keep doing this exercise for three to four days.
After a few days, you can start to hide the drag in your property and command your puppy to look for it. Make sure that hide the raccoon drag scented when your dog is not around. So it does not see hiding the drag.
This will help your dog practise following the smell. Encourage them to follow the smell and club it with verbal indications like “find it” or “find it sussie”. With time and practice, your dog will understand the cues. Initially, if your dog doesn’t understand what to do, you can guide it by taking it near the spot (where you hid the drag). When they find it, reward them. Remember, do not punish them.
Practise this for at least for two weeks.
Since raccoons can also be located on the trees, try to hang the carcasses or the drags on the tree so they will associate the smell of trees with raccoons. Do this exercise with different routes for your dog to follow the smell and not the same route.
Do this exercise two to three times a week. The first two years for your dog are very important to polish this skill. Every time they find the carcass or the drag, reward them and appreciate them.
Training Them For Live Raccoons
As your dog gets older, you can start training them to chase live raccoons. As we mentioned earlier, raccoons can be notorious, so don’t send your little puppy directly to chase a live running raccoon. Familiarize them with the smell of a live raccoon.
Trap a live raccoon and put them in a cage. Let your dog look at it, smell it. Your dog is likely to bark at the raccoon which should be encouraged. This will help you to recognise when a raccoon is around in future.
Practise for a few weeks.
Once you feel that your dog is recognizing the smell, it is time to let them chase the live raccoon. But keep in mind that this is done only when you are sure that your dog will obey your commands like “stop”, “sit”, etc. If they are not obeying your commands then your dog can end up getting hurt. Let your raccoon go in the while and allow your dog to bark and chase. They will bark loud and run towards the smell which is common and should be encouraged. But make sure that you are around them and they are listening to your commands. Remember, they are still getting trained.
Get Them Used To Gun Shots
It is important that they get used to gunshots. Take them to a park and when you are hunting the raccoons, make sure they are around you. At first, with the sound of the gun, they will shiver and get scared. But then you have to cuddle them a little so they can calm down and understand that the noise of the gunshot was not for them. Repeat this exercise for a couple of weeks, till your dog doesn’t seem frightened with the noise of the gunshot.
There is no specified time as to when will your dog stop getting scared of the gunshots. Because even though from the same breed, different dogs react differently to the noise of gunshots.
What items are required for training?
There are a couple of items that you can use to train your coondog for hunting. These items are as follows :
The first important thing to have is a leash. It is important that you and your dog get used to leash control from an early age of your dog.
Raccoon Smell Spray
It is not advisable to train your dog directly to hunt live raccoons as they might end up getting hurt. So to train them from the start, it is important that they know what a raccoon smells like.
There are many raccoon smelling sprays available in the market that you can use to train your dog.
You can either use a drag or a dummy to spray the raccoon smell so your dog gets used to the smell.
Instead of dummy and raccoon smell sprays, you can also use carcasses of the raccoons. But you’ll have to keep changing it regularly because it will start to deteriorate soon.
As we mentioned earlier to let your dog go around the raccoon and smell it. So to keep the raccoon in control and protect your puppy, it is important that you have traps. Traps are small cages that you can use to keep the raccoon in.
To familiarise your dog with the sound of the gun, it is advisable that you use plastic guns (which sound like a real gun). They are available in the market and can be very helpful in training your dog to get used to the noise. They are a better and much cheaper alternative to real guns for training.
Are Coonhounds Hard to Train?
There has been a notion around that coondogs are difficult to train. It is true that coon dogs can come across a little challenging to train. They are not very good leash dogs but once trained they would never make a mistake. They can be a little stubborn while you are training them. So it is important to reward them for their good behaviour. Remember, do not punish your dog as it might discourage them.
Even though they are difficult to train and are stubborn but they are bred to hunt so they have the innate ability to hunt. All they need is motivation and training to hunt safely and securely.
What Time is Suitable for Training?
The most suitable time to train your dog is spring. The pleasant weather will help your dog to not get distracted and focus on training. It’ll be easier for you also to take them out in the woods for training.
For the age, it is good to start early. You can start training your dog when it is 5 to 8 weeks old. But not younger than that.