|Barked: Tue Oct 5, '10 7:41am PST |
|Edit: For some reason I thought the OP was recent (reading comprehension failure!). Anyway, I'll just leave this here in case anyone else has similar questions about training coonhounds.
Well, I'm about to start competing with my coonhound in AKC rally obedience, and he's been a CGC for years. He heels beautifully, sits, downs, stays, comes when I call (though with a scenthound, you must never EVER have them off-leash in an unfenced area--it does not matter how well-trained, a scenthound's entire purpose for being on this earth is to scent track and run AWAY from the handler, following the scent—for the dog's safety, you can't ever forget what they were bred to do), and does a variety of tricks.
Marlowe is a delight to train and the best dog I've ever had.
For me, the key was learning how to train in a positive way (I use the clicker training method). Forget all the dominance and "making the dog do what you want" and that sort of thing. Coonhounds care about one thing and one thing only: themselves. And that's fine. That's normal. But that doesn't mean that they can't be beautifully behaved, obedient and fun to be around. It just means that you need to motivate them with something other than "Because I said so." Instead, motivate them with all of the following:
- Because I might have something you want!
- Because I've never, ever given you a reason to mistrust or fear me.
- Because I probably know where the good smells are!
- Because I'm unpredictable and fun to be around!
- Because I know a good game to play!
- Food, food, food, food, food, food, food
In that way, Marlowe and I have a harmonious relationship. He does something for me, I do something for him. He has something I want (good behaviour), I have something he wants (a treat, a game, a toy, opposable thumbs that can open doors, access to sofas that are very soft and nice to sleep on).
To train a hound, you must forget what people tell you about them being stupid or untrainable. Be patient, positive, fun, understand where they are coming from and what they were bred for, and use their natural selfishness in your favour. Never hit, never yell (they're very sensitive and will just ignore you if you get angry), always offer a "paycheck" for a job well-done.
Because of hound breed stereotypes, when you do wind up with a gorgeously-behaved, polite, happy coonhound, everyone will be even more impressed than if you did the same thing with another breed. People will think you're a training genius, even though it's really not that difficult!
Edited by author Tue Oct 5, '10 7:43am PST
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