Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Motivation and Relationship

I have an article linked in below. It is about peoples dogs sufferring the loss of their master.


There is much we have to learn about these wonderful companions. One thing I am realizing is although dog may be mans best friend, we are not always dogs best friend, because there is so much chaos in the world we humans have created here on earth, that that the violence and neglect of humanity has a profound effect on sensitive people, and especially dogs who live and work for us.

Most people who call me to buy a dog operate under the assumption that they can "buy" a dog and be hunting with it tonite. They believe if it is a "good" dog it will hunt for anyone. Wrong!

Dogs are social creatures, in the wild, a pack, but in the human context, a tribe. So although you may want them only for hunting, and don't "need" them for anything else, they are not a tool that you can use and hang up or tie out until the next time you need them. They have emotional components that require socialization, and contrary to this concept that hunting dogs should not be spoiled as pets, I believe a happy well socialized dog makes a better hunter, because they are not neglected most of the time and are always eager to please and serve, because they are healthier, physically and emotionally.

If you buy a dog that you did not raise as a puppy, there is almost always a warm up period, where that dog needs to get to know you and trust you before they get down to the business of hunting.

Whether they live in a pack of dogs or a tribe of people, they want to fit in and find their place of service to the common good of the social unit. Most dogs are adaptable, and make their best effort to fit in if we want them to be a pet only. But some dogs are hunters and need to get out and cover some ground periodically exploring the world around them even if their only service to you is as a pet and companionship.

They are connected in ways most of us are unaware of. It seems many people have a hard time believeing a dog has emotions or feelings. Are these people blind? A dog may not speak English, but their body language speaks volumes.

The best way to really get to know your dog is to bring them into a variety of situations and see how the dogs reacts. This also builds relationship between you and the dog. Not everyone can bring their dog fishing, or to the deer hunting camp during deer season. But the more you broaden your dogs horizons the better, in my opinion.

Of course there are limitations to the complications encountered during deer season such as your dog stressing and barking when you leave them behind to go take a stand.

If you are in a box stand and you can bring your dog up in there with you, you may be amazed how helpful it is to have him in there while you spend all that time hoping for a shot at some venison. Then when it is all said and done, your blood dog is already there with you if you need him.

When my friends first began advising me that they brought their Catahoula into the box stand during deer season my first reaction was; wouldn't it scare the deer?

They advised me actually the dog helped, because it heard the deer coming before they did. Made me wonder how many deer passed under my stand and I didn't know it.

When it comes to hog hunting, many dogs are written off as "no good" because they are trying to figuire out what the hell we are doing in the woods, and hanging around our feet trying to get into the game and don't understand why we are so unhappy with them, and don't have a clue what we really want of them. Thats where positive reinforcement experiences come in to motivate and cause a dog to hunt hogs for us.

Now how you give that dog the positive experience of hunting hogs, and then allowing you to reward him for hunting, is the key a lot of people fail to have. Unless you can unlock that desire to serve you and combine it with the natural instinct to hunt, and then be able to reward the dog for a job well done, you may never know how "good" your dog really is. Possibly hunting with someone who has dogs that hunt the way you want to hunt. Or bring your new or started dog where there is a nuisance hog and your dog doesn't have to hunt very far out to get on it.

Now it helps to have a dog that was bred to hunt in the first place.

Unfortunately too many people today, are breeding dogs for pets, and for show.

In the old days it didn't matter how much you liked the dog or how good they looked, if they did not serve a vital function and work for their keep, they didn't survive to reproduce.

Today, because so many people are getting dogs bred to hunt and are trying to make them into a pet, and it doesn't work out because the dogs natural hunting instincts get in the way of just being a pet, they don't survive to reproduce.

What is happening is called genetic selectivity, and when we breed for show or for easy going, fun pets, we lose the drive that makes these dogs sought after the world over for their hunting abilities.

I see it all the time, and I have people on the phone hang up on me because, I am trying to help them understand you can't take the hunt out of them if they are bred to hunt, and you can't make them hunt either, if they don't have it in them genetically to start with.

It is really starting to disturb me when I hear people claim they want to buy a puppy, and then train them to hunt hogs. Disturbs me, because they don't understand you don't have to train them to hunt, if they are bred to hunt. You have to train them to come, sit, stay, load up, not to mention the fine tunings of socializing with other dogs and people. And if you are hunting hogs, you need to train them to survive.

I have puppies that are 12-14 weeks old that are hammering down in a bay pen, and I am thinking I better teach them to survive or they won't live to be two. And more importantly, I need to teach people the importance of using only one or two dogs at a time if they are bred right. Because if they are bred right, they don't need help, they need space and no distractions when the bay gets going in the woods.

Dogs that get to a bay and have too much help, get catchy, cut up too much, or killed, before you can get there to throw and tie the hog.

Well it has been a long hot summer, and I am glad the days are shorter, the nights cooler,and we have dryer air making the days a little more tolerable.

As much as I had hoped to do more hunting in the grainfields this summer, the BP oilspill has minimised my income to the point, I couldn't fill up the gas guzzler and chase hogs as much as as I had hoped. But the tourists did pour in during the last month and we are getting out more with cooler temps, so nice to be out burning up some of the calories I have stored around my waistline these last few months, sitting in the central AC nearly everyday, and night.

Monday, August 9, 2010

They Are Starting To Call Me A Dog Whisperer

Today's post is about the Crocodile Whisperer.

Most people who come on my Louisiana Swamp Tours do not believe me when I tell them I swim with the gators, me and my children. We can swim with them because we eat them, they don't eat us. We are their only natural enemy, and they have nothing to fear except human beings.

What you are about to see here is even harder to believe. But is proof that animals are more adaptive than most of us believe.

And I have been trying to figuire out how to drive my point home to my readers about the finer aspects and benefits of buying a Catahoula puppy and spoiling it rotten for the first six months if you plan to raise it to be a hog hunting dog.

The point of getting a foundation bred puppy is it will hunt because it is bred into the gene pool, generation after generation, but because of the wolf instinct in these dogs they are highly social, and that means they need to feel that they are a part of the family or pack. There is no better way to achieve the relationship factor than buying a puppy and spending years before they are allowed to hunt.

Bobby Girl, who is a granddaughter of Bob and a great granddaughter of Two Diamonds Cutter, will not bay in a pen. But first time I tokk her to the woods at about 7 months old she was gone. She hunted.

Many people fail to grasp the importance and thus the concept of relating to animals and I see this in my dog business all the time. Not only do they underestimate the animals intelligence, but also the emotional or spiritual connections possible.

Of course, what I am describing takes time to cultivate, because animals, wild or domestic often are painfully aware that we are the worlds most dangerous predator, are grossly impatient, insensitve and selfish, not to mention we mistakenly believe we are superior to animals and thus are puffed up with pride, rude, loud and arrogant.

Wild animals hate that and domestic ones such as the family pet, do their best to adapt and tolerate us!

If the shoe fits, wear it!

I am tired of being nice and polite to people who don't deserve it.

Below is a perfect example of the possibilities and benefits of investing time in relating to a wild animal and developing a long term working relationship.

Rather than trying to tame wild stallions,
fearless Costa Rican fisherman Chito prefers a playful wrestle,
in the water with his best pal Pocho - a deadly 17ft crocodile.

The 52-year-old
daredevil draws gasps of amazement from onlookers by wading chest-deep into
the water, then whistling for his 980lb buddy - and giving him an affectionate hug.

Chito made friends
with the croc after finding him with a gunshot wound on the banks of the
Central American state's Parismina river 20 years ago.

He had been shot in
the left eye by a cattle farmer and was close to death.

But Chito enlisted the
help of several pals to load the massive reptile into his boat.

He says: "When I
found Pocho in the river he was dying, so I brought him into my house

"He was very
skinny, weighing only around 150 lb. I gave him chicken and fish and medicine
for six months to help him recover.

"I stayed by
Pocho's side while he was ill, sleeping next to him at night. I just wanted
him to feel that somebody loved him, that not all humans are bad.

"It meant a lot
of sacrifice. I had to be there every day. I love all animals - especially
ones that have suffered."

It took years before
Chito felt that Pocho had bonded with him enough to get closer to the animal.

He says: "After a
decade I started to work with him. At first it was slow, slow. I played with
him a bit, slowly doing more.

"Then I found out
that when I called his name he would come over to me."

At one point during his
recovery, Chito left the croc in a lake near his house.. But as he turned to
walk away, to his amazement Pocho got out of the water and began to follow
him home.

Chito recalls:
"That convinced me the crocodile could be tame." But when he first
fearlessly waded into the water with the giant reptile his family was so
horrified they couldn't bear to watch. So instead, he took to splashing
around with Pocho when they were asleep..

Four years ago Chito
showed some of his tricks to friends, including getting the animal to close
his eyes on command, and they convinced him to go public with a show.

Now he swims and plays
with Pocho as well as feeding him
at the lake near his home in the lowland
tropical town of Sarapiqui .

The odd couple have now become a major tourist attraction,
with several tour operators,
including Crocodile Adventures, taking visitors on touring cruises to see the pair.

On the Crocodile Adventures website it describes the spectacle as:
"One of the most amazing things that no cruise ship passenger will want to miss, the adventure show between the man and the crocodile."

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Right Genetics and Training

Someone recently saw my wolf at a hog dog field trail with my Catahoulas and asked "What is that for?" And I answered; "My daughter." It caused me to realize how people look at you and they think they know all your business.

Anyway, he did bay the hog after he was at my house for a few weeks and when I thought about it, I realized he had a built-in cut vest, on account of his fur was so thick. At any rate he does hunt and so we will see come cooler weather, what he is made of.
Samuel, my daughter's wolf pup. That's right, he ain't finished growing yet!

It fascinates me how so many people think they can go to baydog.com and buy a cheap dog and voila: catch hogs!

Well, I hope to add some in-depth truth to the cypershere regarding buying, breeding, training, and owning Catahoulas, for hog hunting, blood trail dogs, and just plain relating better to your pet or working dog which ever way you prefer to go with it.

It is amazing how many people "see" a Catahoula and want one and then try to "make" it into a pet, and it doesn't work because the dogs working ability is bred into them, not trained. And if you are not prepared to own something that will put you to school on a daily basis, test you, and is smarter, faster, and more playful than you, watch out these dogs will drive you nuts.

More and more people are reading my blogs and realizing most of the info on the internet about blood trail dogs for deer and Catahoulas for hog hunting is all about somebody bragging how great a hunter they are and how long the teeth or how big the rack, and is thus not very useful for novices or serious experienced hunters trying to take their hunting experiences to new new levels with a good, well bred dog.

Well I am here to tell you folks, I don't hunt, my dogs do. And all the credit of my success in the woods goes to them for being the great hunters, not me! Part of this is genetics and part is due to them being allowed to grow up to be puppies for two years and balance the work with play. But I have special techniques and knowledge that is evident in the end products. Ask my satisfied customers: Here is an old timer named Mike Duggan telephone 337 912 3953. Let him tell you about the puppy he bought that was finding hogs at 8 months, not to mention what has happened so far and the dog is not even two years old.

This Buster, mr. Mike's dog and perfect example of the right genetics.

Now what is so interesting about Mr. Mike's dog is it was only a year old and all kind of people wanted to breed to him, but he was too young so Mike suggested they breed to where he come from. Jesse the stud, or Jesse's grandfather C Arrow Patch. Oh no, they wanted to breed to Buster, and he was barely a year old. Like he is some kind of freak that come out of nowhere. And you know the problem with that kind of thinking? Unless he comes from generation after generation of proven foundation bred dogs, he will most likely not produce anything after him.

Here is Buster's father, Jesse and his son Gus, out of Dot, in the pen.

Here is Luke Skywalker, a paternal grandson of the legendary Maurice, and maternal grandson of Patch and Ruby.

You can see below how the mommas teach the young ones how it is done in a baypen and more specifically they teach my dogs to hunt in the woods by example. I don't train my dogs to hunt, I breed them to hunt and I train them to survive when we get to the woods.

Now, I do allow them to get in and get them some, when I think they are ready, but by about 8 or 9 months, it is time to keep them away from the bay pen and focus on the woods.

If you bring them to the pen and never to the woods as they grow up they come to believe it is your job to take them to hogs and then they bay it.

After a year old it is very important to focus the dogs primarily into the woods as much as possible, rather than the bay pen so they come to realize that if they want to bay a hog, they have to go find one, or it doesn't happen. and by that point, they should really be fired up on baying if they are bred right, but many a great dog was a late bloomer, and really surprised folks how overnight someone turned on the fearless switch, and they fired off.

So many people struggle to get the dogs out from under foot, and getting to the point of the dogs firing off, getting out and hunting hogs. I think they do not understand the importance of simply walking the dogs away from the truck or ATV, and through the woods as a puppy and allowing the dog to grow up gradually expanding its territory, and perhaps, I think sometimes it is a matter of impatience on the hunters part, expecting too much too soon. And I want to mention this again; or other times it is a clear cut case of the late bloomer, no matter who, what, where, the dog will not hunt until 2 or 3 years old. And most people write them off before that, thinking they are not a hunting dog, or they would be hunting already.

One thing I know for sure; my dogs look up to me for leadership, and are studying my every move and if I take them to the woods and there is hogs there, they will find it and bay it, if they can stop it, because that is what they were bred to do generation after generation.

Good luck, and be careful, it's a jungle out there.

If you are coming to Louisiana and want to do my swamp tour or would like to call me about a de la Houssaye's Catahoula, I can be reached at 337 298 2630

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Our Relationships Or The Lack Thereof

You think your catch dog has a lock on his jaw? Well check out this ones lock jaw success!

In case you are wondering, that is a dead pig in his mouth!

Today's post is about a time honored tradition that is passed from generation to generation. Men take out the older boys into a close relationship with nature and hunting dogs and allow them to witness, experience, and learn how to put meat on the family table. And some of the possibilities and consequences of a lack of such a relationship, for our youth today.

And, as is the case with many of today's youth, they have not known the pleasures of becoming a hunter or fisherman because they did not have a daddy in the house to teach them, and all too often, if they did have a daddy in house, too many of us modern day daddy's have been too busy with the demands and distractions of modern living to exercise and share our privileges of hunting and fishing in the wilderness and teach the youth of today how to put the seafood and meat harvests of those wilderness outings on the table.

Today we have more than enough to eat on the shelves at the super market. We do not, by necessity, have to fish and hunt. Only a little more than half a century ago, that necessity of hunting and fishing, was, for many people, a way of life.

So as a result, there is a primal subconscious yearning in the youth of today to go and do what we have done generation after generation after generation, which is to go out into nature and be a man/hunter/fisherman, but the youth of today are often doing it the hard way, by trail and error, because they don't have an experienced old timer to teach them.

And so, I am hearing a lot of complaints from experienced and knowledgeable hog hunters, regarding the negative effects of the newbies trying to learn by trail and error, and in their opinion ruining it for us all.

For instance if you have never hunted with a one dog wonder, or hunted very little, you might assume because, you are hunting a very dangerous wild boar, that the more dogs you have on the ground, the better, is the way to go. Truth is if you are running too many dogs, you cause the hog to run more because of too much pressure on him, and he is running for cover. When he gets there and can back up into a fallen tree or thicket, he turns and starts killing dogs because too many dogs causes the best dog, which could proberbly keep the hog at bay by his self, to catch. He is catching because he has help and thinks it is enough help. But without you to throw the hog and tie him the hog can begin to cause injuries sufficient to kill or completely shut down dogs one at a time.

Too many of the youth today grew up with and are caught up in, the virtual world of computers, the make believe, Hollywood generated, visual world of television, movies, and video, and have lost touch with the generational relationship of father to son, and the satisfaction of being in the wilderness hunting and fishing with someone you love, respect and trust. And with that, many of today's youth attempt to get a dog to hunt hogs and have no clue about the importance of a close family-like relationship between us and the dogs. And it is very important because a dog often will not hunt for someone they do not know, trust and love.

The fastest growing recreational activity in America today is bird watching. Why? Because it allows many of us who do not need to hunt or fish to eat, to get out there and commune with nature, without necessarily, killing a fish, a bird, or a mammal.

Yet here in Louisiana, being born into the greatest pantry of wild foods in North America, we not only take all of the above for food, we also harvest amphibians and reptiles, too. Cajuns are known for their tasty food and what a lot people do not realize is that a lot of our delicious food is so good because of the abundance of wild game and seafood in our environment, which goes into our cuisine.

Because wild hogs are not an indigenous species, and so many of us have lost our hunting skills, they are not regulated by natural predators, and are experiencing a population explosion and wild hogs are showing up everywhere, which opens opportunities for many young people yearning to be more out into the real world of nature and wilderness to become hog hunters, and exercice the priveledge of hunting to satisfy the primordial yearning to provide meat for the tribe.

But my point here is we have, in many respects, lost touch with nature, and service animals. What better way to get the youth of today out there than for fathers and mothers to bring their sons and daughters out into the wilds to hunt hogs with dogs, and to fish and learn the time honored tradition of putting meat on the table.

But if we are getting into something we have not done, and don't have an old timer to teach us what can we do but learn by trail and error? Consider the true story I am about to share next.

I want to share a story of a young man who came to me wanting to buy Catahoula puppies to raise them to be hog dogs. Before he could receive his puppies, he and his wife decided they needed to place a brindle Catahoula female that they had rescued, and start fresh with well-bred dogs, to raise them to be puppies that would be hog dogs some day. Having gotten rid of that brindle female, before he could come get his puppies, once again another opportunity to rescue a dog arose.

That dog, as it turns out, is a six month old pit bull, which he assumed could be a catch dog. I later advised him that a pit bull does not always make a catch dog, no more than a Catahoula will always make a hog dog. What he did not understand about a pit bull being raised to be a catch dog is that, ideally, a pit bull puppy must be raised up in the hierarchy of mature bay dogs, who will dominate and never allow the pit bull's powerful dominate nature to be directed to other dogs. As that pit bull matures and understands his place in the hierarchy of the pack, he will know that his glorified position as catch dog makes him a very, very important and special member of the team, and he should control his aggression and direct it where it belongs in catching and holding a mean dangerous wild boar, until assisted by the man who owns all the dogs, the hog is thrown down, tied and we all share in the glory of bringing the bacon home.

Like many of todays youth he had no clue how complex the hierarchy system is, or how it operates in the success of a man and dog team for hunting hogs.

Many young people today have grown up using machines that served them. Be it for transportation, recreation, or entertainment, ie: Ipod, Game boy, Nintendo, television and computers. And unfortunately, as useful as computers are, most use them are used for entertainment more than research and education. for me a computer is a tool not a toy. I use it for work, not for play.

To get back to growing up in an industrialized society, the youth of today believe that if there is a job to be done we buy something(spend money), we turn it on, or fill it with gas, then we turn the key, and it works for us. What has happened in the man/machine world of today is that the youth have grown up without understanding the importance of getting a job done through the relationship between us and the animals who serve us. Today, horses are more recreational than service animals, yet in the first half of the twentieth century, horses, mules, and dogs were critical elements of our survival, because we lived off the land instead of the grocery store. So with internal combustion powered transportation, the value of the horse for transportation became obsolete. Now on the other hand, dogs have managed to stay withn us as pets, and be an important part of our lives as pets and security, and thus not gone by the way much as have horses. but most dogs today are bred raised and trained to be pets, not working dogs, and we have lost the art of handling and useing them as such for the most part.

Dogs have for thousands of years, always been a part of the family as a pet/security/companion and during hunting season, as part of the team as a hunter. Many cowboys of today are still using Catahoulas to increase the efficiency of penning cattle too. Nonetheless, the youth of today have failed to understand the importance of building a relationship with their hunting dogs. And the responsibility of building that relationship falls squarely upon us. If we do not build a relationship of trust based upon love, affection, fun and games as a puppy, that dog may never grow up to be eager to serve as a hunting dog, no matter how well bred to hunt, once it becomes an adult. This is true for just about any dog be it a pet or a hunting dog. I am painfully aware of how difficulty it is to convince people, that just because you 'buy' an experienced started or "finished" dog, does not mean that you're hunting hogs successfully anytime soon.

No matter how well trained or experienced that dog is, if it does not have a connection with you, and that requires time to develop, it will most likely not hunt for you. I have seen many people pick up a dog on Friday afternoon and after I told them to give the dog time to warm up to them, they bring it back the next day convinced the dog is no good because it would not hunt for them.

I have seen many people get rid of a dog they thought was no good because it wouldn't hunt for them and then later regret giving the dog away because it became a great hunting dog with someone else. Now maybe the dog was a late bloomer, and would not fire off for anyone no matter who, what or where, or the dog failed to be motivated to hunt because of a lack of relationship with the person. Either way the failure was not on the dog, but the man.

And worse, many of us being so smart and well educated, we fail to realize that dogs and horses understand English in spite of not being able to speak it, and so fail to do something that is so simple, so easy, and so essential in establishing a working relationship with our hunting dogs; talk to them, and use proper tonality.

We may have become very disconnected from nature, but dogs still live in the pack mentality of their natural, wilderness, survival mechanisms. They are part of or at least want to be part of, a team who hunts, kills, and eats. We need to understand that dogs have not lost touch with their basic hunting instincts as much as we have. They have not 'evolved' to the degree that we have. In my opinion, we need to de-evolve. We are not as good at hunting as we think we are. And if you think you're such a great hunter, why don't you go try it without your dog?

The point here is we need the dogs to serve us in the course of hunting hogs, be it a find dog, a chase dog, a bay dog, a catch dog, or a one dog wonder who can do it all and do it all by his self.

An interesting revelation I have had recently is that many people believe a 'good' hog dog should be a long-range dog, because they have hunted with people who had long-range dogs, and that was the limit of their awareness, based upon their experience. I think their limited experience of hunting hogs with a limited variety of different dogs has caused them to fail to understand, value, and experience the benefits of a short range dog.

One of the biggest problems of a short-range dog that most people have is that the dog keeps coming back and sitting down at their feet, and then they get mad at the dog because they think the dog should be getting out and hunting. What most people who are just getting into hog hunting don't understand about a short-range dog, is that they will come back and sit at your feet when there are no hogs in the short-range.

What the dog is communicating is, "I am waiting for you to move up." And so if this is occurring and you want your dog to hunt, my advise is; you need to move up. Ideally you should be out walking in the woods when you hunt, not sitting on the ATV, the tailgate or in the boat, so if your dog checks back, he knows you are backing him up, and paying attention, and not being lazy at the mechanized conveyance and waiting for him to do all the work. If you are hunting out of a boat or truck you should be following your dog via a tracking collar and moving up as close as possible without distracting him or alarming the hog and causing it to break and run, so that the dog learns over time that he can count on you to be there if he finds a hog and starts to chase or bay. Whether he is in a chase and you are right behind, or at bay and you come in to catch, he learns that he can go as far and as fast as need be and you are there to back him up, every step of the way.

And one of my biggest complaints about hunting with someone on an ATV, is that we don't move without starting the ATV, which is noisy and is counter-productive to sneaking up on a hog and shutting it down at bay as quickly as possible.

Possibly one of the causes of hogs running so much today is so many people hunt them on noisy machines and are for the most part only alerting the hog to their position, and driving the hog away. By moving only with the machine, instead of walking slowly and quietly through the woods with the dogs, you are making it harder to hunt not easier. Think about it, if you are having a problem with running hogs you can't stop, maybe you need to work an area without the noise maker constantly giving away your position.

Many people today finding fresh sign want to drop the tail gate, open the dog box door, let the dog out and expect the dog to do all the work, and meanwhile we sit on the tail gate and wait for the chase or bay to begin.

I like to walk through the woods with my dogs, and being almost 55 years old, I prefer to be on the back of a mule and allow him to ride me through the woods because it is easier to keep up with my dogs if we get on a running hog, and I can cover more ground, not to mention, I have a more commanding view of the horizon, and if I need to haul ass and get the hell out of harm's way, I can out run a hog on a mule or horse real easy. I also have the ability to out pace my dogs, intercept them before they get to a highway (hopefully), and even get into a bay a lot quicker if damage is being done and I need to step in and intercede with a well-placed bullet and keep a bad hog from killing my dogs.

Other great benefits of riding a mule is that they are silent in the woods, and I can carry a lot more on that mule with me, than I can carry on my own. Not to mention they can go a lot of places the ATV can't. Hunting hogs off of horse and mule is old-timey, and I think most of us today use an ATV or a truck or an outboard-powered boat because it is convenient, and commonplace, but it is noisy and in my opinion counter-productive to catching more hogs than it is helpful. Yes, use it to get there, then turn it off and walk through the woods with your dogs very slowly. If a dog checks back with you, encourage them, pat their head, and tell 'em good boy, and point where you want them to go, and send them out again. Relate to the dog affectionately, enthusiastically, and verbally. Make sure the dogs knows you approve of his activity and are having fun with them.

I still think the most effective way to hunt wild hogs is with short-range dogs and we walk the dogs through the woods, or better yet ride a good mule, but that is me.

To get back to the pack mentality in dogs, as the leader of the pack, we should always guide or steer the hunt from behind, like a sheppard drives a herd of sheep, and the scouts can circle back periodically to make sure they are on track with the team. As a dog matures they expand their range and become more long range as they learn to trust that we are going to follow them no matter where they go or how far.

And remember, the scouts will always be out in front, but will basically follow the direction of the leader of the pack, who steers from behind. If you don't know what I am talking about, you and I are the leader of the pack. I am the killer and the protector, and the provider. I rule with absolute authority and power; I control the food, the water, the freedom of the dog, and its very life is in my hands, back at the camp and home. They know this because they have seen what happens to a hog when I stick em or pull the trigger, or what happens to dogs who rebel against my authority and are not in the systemic hierarchy of my pack.

Although I do discipline my dogs, I almost never ever hit them and be physically mean and abusive. The most I need to do is to raise my voice, and it is torture to a dog who is dedicated to serving and pleasing me.

To get back to the young man who got the six month year pit bull, and the heirarcal pack instinct, he did not understand that to raise up the Catahoula puppies under the pit bull was most likely going to result in the puppies being traumatized by this older dog, and being new at the game of hog hunting, he never was taught or understood that a pit bull puppy should be raised with older bay dogs, not the other way around. Furthermore, just because you get a Catahoula or a pit bull doesn't mean you have a bay dog or a catch dog. Having a well organized and fine tuned hunting team is a costly and time consuming process. It takes years to get it right, and will have to go through many dogs to find the right ones, and have a well ordered and effective organized hunting team.

Luckily for me, when I got my first Catahoulas, they were great dogs, and I lived in the wilderness where my pups grew up living off the land, with miles all around us with very few neighbors. It was common for half my dogs diet to be raw fish that I caught off of the wharf with a cast net every morning. But twenty years ago, I think the gene pool of Catahoulas had not evolved into so much trash like we got today. And on that note, today many people believe if they buy a Catahoula and it has papers, and especially if it's an NALC registered Catahoula, it will be a good dog.

Papers don't mean much unless you have the right name on those papers.

Names like Two Diamonds, Camp a While, Weems, Ray, Tuska Homma, McGuire, C.W. Crews, Carpenter, Wagers, Blue Sky, Lee, etc.

What I have found is that I lucked out from the get-go, and because I had such a great working relationship with my dogs, the old-timers, who had some of the best dogs in the business, have taken me under their wing and helped me build the gene pool that is now in my kennel to be one of the top-performing Catahoula kennels in the state of Louisiana. I want to give credit where it is due; the performance of the dogs I am breeding today is in large part due to me finding people who had better dogs then me and bringing them into my breeding program, and out crossing, not line breeding.

Now people, I am not bragging. This is no brag, just fact. I got good dogs, and I want to give credit to the old timers who have given so much to me, by passing their dogs and knowledge on to me, I didn't have to learn it all by trail and error, but I did make my mistakes, and then went to them for advise.

I want to pass it on to the next generation by helping people that are new in the business to get good dogs and learn how to properly raise them and handle them as elite, high-performance, working dogs. Be it a cow dog, god dog, pet/security, search-and-rescue, a service dog for the handicapped, or a blood-trailed dog for deer hunters.

I know this is a hog dog blog, but Catahoulas are very versatile, and it would be to your benefit to use your dog for as many different services as possible. I'm sure some of you are worried if you use your hog dog to trail deer blood, they will trash on deer, but hey, you proberbly are not hunting hogs during deer season if you got any sense, so why not have your Catahoula hog dog there to help you find that lost deer? And...you might learn that your dog is smart enough to know when you are hunting hogs to leave the deer alone. And who knows you might run into hogs while deer hunting, and bay a hog during deer season and be able to mix some wild pork into the deer sausage.

If you buy a dog from me, I will always be available for consultation. I consider that puppy which you bought from me, my dog, for the life of the dog. I hope to build a relationship with you, where we can become friends. I am painfully aware how many young people just getting into this today, do not know how to buy, breed, train, raise, or handle a Catahoula. I not only want to be a breeder, but to be available as an authority for consultation purposes, on raising, training, and handling, these fine-working dogs, that so many people love because of the way they look, but have no idea how hard it is to handle an animal that is smarter, faster, and more in-tune to their natural instincts than we are.

If you are trying to make them to be a pet and not allow them to exercise their working abilities that is bred into them, good luck. My dogs are bred to hunt, not trained. I train them to survive.

So, for the young people just getting into this today, who need to get out and commune with nature, and exercise the privilege of being the provider of meat on the table as a hunter/fisherman, a Catahoula is a great investment. But you need to put more than just money in your dog. You need to invest time in them. They want to go hunting with you; they want to go fishing with you; they want to be a part of your everyday life.

What I am getting to here is that a Catahoula is capable of a wide variety of services and functions, and you have to understand this and attempt to give the dog the ability to serve in a wide variety of working areas, so it does not go crazy trying to figuire how to be a working dog, when you got them tied up or kenneled 98% of the time. And if you want a dog to be a working dog, the hardest thing most people have with dealing with Catahoulas, is allowing them to be a puppy for the first two years of their life. Too many people expect way too much performance too soon and fail to understand how important it is to invest time just playing and having fun, and investing into the dogs pack instinct of relationship in the hierarchy of the wolf pack, or our family environment.

I will be writing articles about the finer aspects of relating to a dog as you being an absolute ruler and authority, balanced by the importance of fun and games and affection and encouragement. Too many people are one way, or the other. Either they love up on the dog and spoil them rotten and do not control the dog with absolute authority and consistency, and thus fail to be the leader of the pack, or they are so authoritative and demanding of respect and obedience, that they punish the dog and are in many cases abusive and bully the dog to the point where it is afaid of making a mistake, and it will not hunt for them, because it is too worried about making a mistake and not being forgiven, but punished as usual.

Positive Reward Training is allowing the dog to run and play and to be encouraged and rewarded with affection and head rubbing and belly rubbing, when they do something right for at least two years, and then watch what happens when they get to the woods, and they run into a wild hog.

So many times I have seen dogs purchased by people as puppies to be "made" into pets, come back to me because they are not bred to be pets, they are bred to hunt. And having never seen a hog in their life, at two or three years old, fire off the first time they go to the woods and there are hogs there. If they are bred right, they don't need to be trained to hunt.

What has been aptly labeled Positive Reinforcement Training is the primary motivation of my dogs desire to serve and please me. Over and above that, is the genetics to hunt, and in that combination, how can you go wrong? So, if you want a dog to obey you and live to please you, you will need to relate to the dog as a dog thinks, and reacts through natural instincts, and tries to adapt to our modern mechanized family life.

Maybe you didn't have a daddy to teach you to be a hunter, but that dog will none the less be looking up to you as the leader of the pack even if you are not a good leader, he is watching and analyzing your every move. If you know of someone who has good dogs see if they will let you bring your dogs and the older experienced dogs teach yours. If you are new at this try to find someone who is experienced and has a good relationship with their dogs before you attempt to go and learn the hard way, like I did for about the first ten years that I hunted hogs, before I began consulting the old timers.

Here is a video I found on Amazon.com if you would like to study hog hunting on a DVD.