The Catahoula Leopard Dog is a strong working dog breed who needs extensive training and regular exercise to thrive. Early socialization and ongoing training beyond puppyhood are extremely important for this high energy dog, who was bred for strength and endurance.
Here are the most important steps to take when training your Catahoula:
Give them the right job
Catahoula Leopard Dogs were bred to work. These dogs thrive when given an opportunity to train and learn new skills. Catahoulas like to be kept busy, and if your lifestyle doesn’t support opportunities for your dog to do the natural work Catahoulas do — hunting, working livestock and guarding property — get your dog involved with hunting trials, tracking training and trails, scent work training, and dog agility and obedience. If Catahoulas don’t have a job to do, they are likely to become destructive, or exhibit other negative behaviors such as excessive barking from boredom.
Start socialization training early
Socialization needs to start at puppyhood. This is a very important developmental time in a puppy’s life from about 5 to 16 weeks old, where they experience new things about the world. Both positive and negative experiences that puppies have during this time can influence their temperament and behavior for the rest of their lives. The Catahoula Leopard Dog is a natural watchdog and can have a predisposition to being wary and distrustful of strangers. Socialization helps manage these behaviors.
Give your Catahoula puppy positive experiences with diverse groups of people and other dogs and animals. Catahoulas have a strong prey drive, so even with good early socialization and training they may not be safe around small animals, such as cats. Catahoula Leopard Dogs are a territorial breed and are very protective of their families. Even with early socialization, they are likely to remain wary of strangers and aren’t always social with other dogs.
Be consistent with positive reinforcement training
Just because these dogs have a strong work drive doesn’t mean they should be treated with a heavy hand or harsh training approach. All dog breeds benefit from training that utilizes consistent positive reinforcement training approaches, which utilizes treats, toys and play to encourage and reward good behaviors. Behavior that has been rewarded is more likely to be repeated. Catahoulas are deeply bonded to their families and consistency in training and expectations helps these dogs succeed.
Work with a professional dog trainer
Don’t skip puppy class! Basic obedience classes can help you and your dog to develop a shared training language, help your puppy to work around distractions and get training off on the right paw. Similarly, if you already have a Catahoula Leopard Dog and are struggling with training, it’s never too late to get support from a dog trainer who utilizes positive reinforcement training approaches. An experienced trainer will help you to better understand and work through issues you’re having with your dog.
How big are Catahoula Leopard Dogs?
They are strong medium to medium-large dogs, weighing in from 50 to 95 pounds, with males being larger. According to the National Association of Louisiana Catahoulas, males measure from 22 to 26 inches in height and females from 20 to 24 inches.
What is a Catahoula Leopard Dog? Here are 5 fun facts:
- Catahoulas were first bred in Louisiana to be all-around working dogs
- They became the official state dog of Louisiana in 1979
- Catahoulas are powerful dogs, bred for strength and endurance.
- They were originally used for guarding property and homes, working with livestock and hunting and treeing.
- Catahoulas are high-energy dogs and will generally not be happy living in an apartment. They don’t do well left home alone all day.
For more information on Catahoula Leopard Dog appearance and temperament, visit our breed page.