Saturday, December 25, 2010

Dogs Don't Speak English

As obvious as the title is, the truth is they don't speak it, but they understand English. And even worse, dogs are much smarter than most of us believe. A dog is constantly analyzing every word, every movement (body language), and your voice tone is especially critical in your communication with your dog. If you are failing to communicate with your dog, the failure is yours, not the dog's. Dogs have left their natural world and joined into our unnatural world, and they make every effort to fit into ours as much as possible.

When we talk to dogs, they may not be able to speak back, but often times, especially if they have a desire to serve us, they are attempting to understand and interpret every word, and especially tone speaks volumes to a dog.

Here is a quick lesson in canine/human communications: When you speak to your dog, always say their name first to get their attention, and then give them the command.

Because we are always talking, sometimes it is hard for a dog to know we are talking to them.

Many people believe because human babies can not speak, they do not understand English and worse, when human babies begin to learn to speak, we think we have to talk to them in their goo goo language. If we talk to babies in complete sentences, with complex words, meaning big words, babies learn to speak much sooner than if we talk to them in baby language. Similarly, if we speak to our dogs in complex, detailed, and very specific explanations of what we want and what we don't want, and then if we use soothing tones when we are pleased, and we use a deep growling tone when we are not, we are talking to a dog in a language it can understand. Just like a human baby, they may not be able to speak, but they understand English.

The more we talk to our dogs, the better will be their comprehension of the English language. I have puppies at three and four months old who are doing exactly what I want them to do, often because they've done it before and I reward them, and they follow the examples of the older dogs. In my opinion, more important than good breeding is socialization, or what I would call raising a puppy. Four critical aspects that lead up to a good finished hog dog is:

1) Good Breeding
2) Well-raised as a puppy
3) Socialized and started hunting
4) Fine-tune the hunting experience so that they can survive close contact with the second most dangerous species in North America, after the grizzly bear.

Many people believe you can't make a hunting dog into a pet and then expect them to hunt. Well, to each it's own. But all the old timers who I know, who are legends, are very much attached to their dogs. They have a relationship, a heart-felt connection; let me just be blunt about it, they love their dogs, and their dogs know it. If you want to get the utmost out of your dog, I suggest you be creative, open-minded, and swallow your pride--learn from your dog.

Another language that dogs understand much more than most of us that are even aware of is body language. If a dog does not trust us, and we have quick, aggressive body movement, and we do not physically express pleasure by rubbing their head and scratching their belly they may not feel attached to us, and thus trust us.

In the hierarchy of the pact, dogs attempt to find their place. The leader of the pack has many followers, and the followers are in what we call a pecking order. Sometimes dogs get jealous if other dogs are our favorite. We need to be aware and sensitive to dogs sense of place. Especially when they are young and just getting started, and are uncertain as to where their place is.

For instance, a dog's body language, when they roll over and are being 'shy', we need to encourage them and reward them for bowing down to us and rolling over. Especially if a dog is shy as a puppy, they are communicating to us with their body language that they are submitting to us, who is the leader of the pack. We should reward them for their submission, not be ashamed over the fact they are shy. They are just a puppy, and are trying to show some respect. We should reward them for being respectful of our dominance, leadership, and authority. Most of the time, they will grow out of this and they will be courageous because they will feel they are a part of something that is larger than themselves.

In the wild, it is called the pack, as in wolves. As domesticated pets, or hunting dogs, they become a part of our tribe, or family. Either way, the dog is relating to a social order. We need to understand how a dog thinks and what motivates them to be a part of the pack. Ideally, I want dogs who are alpha, leader of the pack, what I call a one dog situation; meaning, in terms of hunting hogs, they don't need any help. The strangest part of this is that in one dog situations an alpha often resents any other dog 'honoring' their bay. I hear many people complaining because their other dogs don't go to and honor a bay. Maybe the best dog doesn't need any help and the other dogs know it, and respect it.

The point I want to make in this blog post is about relationship. Dogs want to relate to us, and they are able to do so much easier when we actively relate to them. Verbally, through our body language, and especially our voice tone, becomes sensitive indications which a dog is constantly analyzing as to whether or not we are happy or displeased with what they are doing. Although dogs tend to live in the 'now', when we are consistently forgiving of their mistakes and encouraging their accomplishments, they remember these things and their trust, their loyalty, and their level of service grows in comparison.

If you don't think you need to relate to your dog, this post is not for you. I don't have a problem with that, but for many years now I have been recognized by some of the leaders in the hog dog world as having the best 'handle' on my dogs. Recently, Reggie Little referred someone to me to buy a puppy or started dog, and he told them just that. I was 'one of the best trainers in the business.'

I never thought much about it: I just did it. The more I did it, the better I got at relating to my dogs. And when I realized they were smarter than me, I started learning from them. I really learned a lot about dogs from the old timers, but it's because I related to my dogs and I recognized that their hunting skills were superior to my own and I allowed them to do things that were contrary to what I wanted them to do, because I came to realize and respect that they knew more about what they were doing, then what I wanted them to do. Go and find a hog and keep him there till I got there.

For me, the things I'm referring to here are common sense. Perhaps for many of you reading this, it doesn't make any sense at all. That's because you've never tried it. We think that dogs think the way we do. We are wrong if we think that way. Dogs are trying to be a part of our world, but they are bringing a large part of their world with them. Because the social order of a dog pack is similar to the social order of the tribe, or human family, dogs have adjusted well. Of course, you might be embarrassed if you talk to your dog and someone is listening. If they observe your dog doing what you tell them to do, when you tell them to do it, and how you tell them to do it, like me you may notice amazement and a great deal of respect and admiration coming from these people.

Many times people want me to train their dog for them, but they don't want to come to school. I tell them this won't work because your dog will listen to me, and respect me, and love me, but nothing will change between you and your dog unless you learn how to speak and relate to your dog on their level.

Dogs may not speak English, but they understand a lot more than most of us are aware of. Whether you are aware of it or not, your dog is constantly analyzing everything you say and do and making their best attempt to adjust according to the boundaries, conditions, and commands that we express towards them.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bellamy Brothers - Catahoula

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hunting Season Makes Me Smile

I bought a "new" used pickup truck last month, just in time for the deer season. It wasn't long before I had an invitation to go on some one's lease and got on I-49 northbound, to do some deer hunting and work some blood dogs on fresh blood.

I love driving through the country side and being a tourist in this great state.
And what a pleasure it is to be able to drive for hours, and not be in pain like I was in the van.

We were hunting in a natural gas field with great limestone roads and long, clean, clear shooting lanes.

As soon as we were dropped off at the box stand,

Jessie and I took a walk to set out some scent wafers and look for sign.

Well 20 minutes in the box stand, Jessie is asleep at my feet, and two does pass through the rye grass at about 125 yards, and look around, nibble, and linger for a spell before moving on east.

Being aware of the fact that the bucks are in rut and following the does, I wanted to see what might come behind the does.

So I waited...

and I didn't have long to wait,

There is something moving off to the left...

Let's zoom in here...

and then I realize that a herd of pigs are lining up to eat on the corn.

Looks like I need to visit north Louisiana more often. And I must confess; I was tempted to wake up this hog/blood dog and go catch a little porker to go with the venison I was about to harvest.

But it was opening day and I can hunt hogs all year long, so I controlled myself and waited.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Traditions and Myth

Traditions are damn near impossible to overcome. Myths may be worse. Either way, they get in the way of things changing for the better most of the time. Combine a tradition and a myth in one problem and it gets very complicated and even down right messy if you are hunting hogs with dogs.

Now I am not down on tradition per se, for instance of fathers taking sons hunting and fishing to satisfy that age old practice of providing meat for the family. It is great.

And the tradition of running the hounds, and hey the more dogs the better. I love to hear a yowl echoing through the woods, day or night. And it is even a lot of fun to identify specific dogs by voice alone.

Where do myths come from? Is it some opinion by someone who doesn't really know anything about what they are talking about, but it sounds good and a lot of people jump on it?

Of course we have a tradition of running hounds(plural). And when hunting hogs a few people seem to want to chase hogs so they can enjoy the thrill of the chase. But I am hearing a lot of frustration about not being able to stop a hog. Looks to me like this is one of two worse case scenarios, in that the hog tires out and then when the dogs stop him, there are too many dogs and the result is a lot of injuries to the hog or dogs, or the dogs tire out and lose the hog.

The bad part of chasing hogs with a pack of hounds is the hog almost always runs like crazy. In essennce running too many dogs, and especially open mouth ones causes running hogs.

And when the dogs do stop him often times the dogs are well burnt out, and the hog stops where he can use the environment to his advantage of causing harm to the dogs because the man is a long ways away, which gives the hog an opportunity to also start killing dogs.

This is very likely because a pack of dogs think they have enough help to take him. And quite possibly, they will overwhelm and kill the hog sometimes before you get there. But if it is a smart, tough, old killer hog who ain't got old for being stupid, he will kill or seriously injure one dog at a time, for several reasons. 1. There are so many dogs, that they can't get out of each others way in a bay, and when a dog is in the hogs face and being charged, if he runs into another dog and is blocked from escape, the hog can catch him. 2. If there are a lot of dogs at the bay the best or lead dogs get too confident and believe they have enough help and get too close or worse they catch something that has great skill and ability to kill.

The first time, I watched Maurice get cut, the hog knocked him down, stood over him and cut his belly right between the ribs and his belly button. When I looked at the injury later, it looked like a surgeon had worked on him with a scapel. Luckily the tusk had been chipped or dubbed, and didn't cut too well.

The myth here is that we are hunting a really big dangerous animal and thus need a lot of dogs to overwhelm the hog. The reality is if we have the right dog, we only need one dog to stop, and keep the hog bayed, until we get there. And I know it does not seem logical, but one dog has a higher survival rate, by his self. And ideally when we run a good dog we should have some young 'uns along for training purposes. And by young I mean 1-1&1/2 or something that hasn't fired off yet and can hunt on their own. What most people call a help dog, or started dog.

Problem with this reality is most people operate in the tradition and myth of a pack of dogs and have never tried to hunt one dog at a time. Hell, I still want to turn 'em all out! I like it! And give me a couple of beers and I want to drive home and get the rest of the dogs and turn them out to. Yah we bad!

But here is what happens when hunting with only one dog on the ground: If the dog is close to the hog, there is not much sound or scent of dog around and the hog is a lot less likely to break and run as fast. So it becomes a lot easier for one dog to stop a hog, if it is the right dog.

If it is the right dog, it will be silent on the track, fast, and gritty, and have a good nose. Ideally it will be a silent on the track dog and not drive the hog with his voice. Typically Catahoulas are silent, like a wolf. Gritty like a bull dog, and thus no fear when it comes to stopping a running hog. And as fast as a Greyhound. But not only fast to overcome the hog in a chase, but also fast and agile to dodge a charge from the hog once bayed.

I don't think we should call 'em hounds because a Catahoula is technically a cur. I also don't like calling them Leopard dogs either, because they don't all have spots, and as far as I know, we don't hunt Leopards with 'em!

Now what I am getting at here is; call 'em what they are and handle them the way they are bred to hunt.

TOO MANY PEOPLE WANT THE DOG TO CONFORM TO THEIR WAY OF DOING THINGS. BUT WHAT IF THE DOG HAS A BETTER WAY? Has it ever occurred to you that your dog knows more about hunting than you will ever learn, and maybe you should try learning from him?

AND WHAT IF THE DOG IS SMARTER THAN YOU? Can you swallow your pride and consider that if you take your puppy to the woods enough, and give him enough time, he will learn to hunt without you teaching him?

A couple of weeks ago I had some boys drive down from north Louisiana who had some well bred dogs that were right at a year old and wanted to get some dogs from me because they were ready to give up on their dogs or maybe hoped my dogs could help get their dogs out and get 'em started.

When I asked if they were willing to give the dogs a year or more to fire off, they replied: "Most people from where we come from, git rid of a dog if it don't hunt by the time it is a year old".

Where are they getting this stuff?

I don't expect anything from my dogs before two years old. Especially if they are gung ho baying in the pen by three or four months and they get out with the older dogs when we ride out behind my property, I like to keep them out of harms way until a year and a half or two. If they are bred to hunt, you don't need to train them.

But for some reason there is this great myth that hog dogs need to be trained to be a hog dog. In my opinion if they are not born a hog dog they will never be one.

In fact when it comes to my dogs, I like to keep them away from hogs from about 8-10 months to about a year and a half. Let them be bored! when they get to the woods they learn real quick to find a hog if they want to bay one.

WHAT I AM GETTING AT HERE IS THAT THERE IS A GREAT DEAL OF CONFUSION REGARDING CATAHOULAS! And unless you can get into this dogs mind and learn from them, you will be very lucky, or most likely will never be satisfied with owning or hunting one.

Do you want the greatest dog ever bred for hog hunting to hunt for you? Then consider that the tradition of running a pack of hounds does not apply here, because they aren't hounds. And the myth of needing more than one dog, that doesn't apply either because if you have the right dog, they not only do just fine by themselves, they do better than they do with a pack.

And what I am hearing from all the people I know who are in the know is that they have given up trying to teach people how to hunt with a Catahoula, because either it is a waste of time trying to teach someone who wants to learn, because people ask for help over the phone, and there is only so much that can be learned by just talking. Or worse, the person is an upstart who just got into it six months ago and has to learn the hard way because they think they know it all, already!

Now one of the old timers who hunt regularly with one of the dogs he bought from me and raised as a pup that was finding its own hog before it was a year old, confesses he struggles with wanting to turn out too many at a time, just like I do. Hell it is fun to see a pack of 4 or 5 young dogs running with the old dog, but boy that can be dangerous if you run into the wrong hog.

So if you have a really jammed up great Catahoula and you don't believe you should hunt only one or two at a time I feel your pain. I been there and done that.

In fact I can remember the first time I was told to run Maurice by his self "because he was a one dog situation". I refused to try it. That didn't make no sense!

It wasn't until my dogs showed me again and again, they could do it alone.

There are great advantages to running one or two dogs, if you have the right dogs, unfortunately, most people never try it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Versatility Of A Catahoula

Here is a link to a website for J Cross Catahoulas.

Now I am not endorsing these folks, and as far as I know, I have never met them personally, and frankly, would like to, based upon what they have done with their breeding and day to day working service of NALC registered dogs.

I have put their testimonial below the link because it is a great description of the working versatility of Catahoulas for penning cattle, and hunting hogs.

So many people want a dog to do one thing and one thing only, and the rest of the time, leave the dog tied up or kenneled and get no socialization. This drives a Catahoula nuts!

If you can haul your dog to work everyday and give them a wide variety of outlets for their energy, not to mention being with you everywhere you go, you will be amazed how much they can learn and work in your program.

It drives me nuts to deal with the public who it appears about 90% of the time want to buy a finished dog, meaning they want to invest money, and no time and expect the dog to work for them. I don't care how good the dog is, if they don't know you, they will need a warm up period which may be a few weeks or perhaps months to come around.

But if you spend time like these people do at J Cross Kennels, you will be amazed at what you can acheive with a Catahoula.

Best way to build a relationship if you are not a breeder and trainer, is to buy a puppy and give it time!

I have actually watched people spend thousands of dollars on well bred and well trained dogs, and the dog was less after coming back because the "new owner" did not know what they were doing.

Now these folks at J Cross pen wild cattle for a living. If they don't have a relationship and a handle on their dogs and horses, what they are doing on a daily basis would not be possible. In one word: Teamwork between man, horse and dog, can get the job done.

Below is from their "about J Cross" page:

J Cross Catahoulas is a dream we're seeing come to reality. We took an ordinary pack of "cow dogs" to a show for fun....and BOY! What a ride it's been. It's been a lot of fun showing to earn 16 championship titles with our personal dogs and 6 earned by dogs we have sold - hopefully, there's more to come.

At J Cross, we use our dogs penning cattle, hog hunting and competition cowdog trials and hog baying, the same ones we lead in the show ring. The versatility of the Catahoula breed is uncanny, we hope to continue proving that through generations to come. The desire to please, the willingness to give and the determination to complete a job and know it's well done, that's what we want to see today and tomorrow. Thank you for visiting our site. If we can ever be of service, we're but a phone call away.

In February 1993, we began breeding for Catahoulas with an extreme working drive for our own personal use. Our need for a dog that can find cattle in the woods and bay for extended periods is the sole driving force for breeding, as we use our dogs in our daily business penning cattle for the general public. It is necessary to have a good tempered dog that is "hot" enough to stay when the cattle are rough and soft enough to bay when the cattle are already dog broke. We soon learned that not only are they exceptional cow dogs, but they can excel in any endeavor.

We began hog hunting and found that the same cow drive we'd bred for produced excellent hunting dogs. From there, it snowballed. Justin, my son, became interested in competition hog baying. In August of 2002, we formally named our kennel and began offering for sale a few pups with the J Cross name.

Through selective breeding of proven working stock, we have been able to not only do the day to day work, penning cattle or hog hunting, we've been able to show that it is possible to breed one dog for all jobs. While we immensely enjoy showing our catahoulas in the different venues, and are mightily proud of the titles they've earned, we refuse to hang our hat on just a title. However, it is with great pride that we announce, EVERY J Cross Catahoula shown to date has earned NALC Championship points in some venue, without exception.

We've borrowed this quote from our Canadian friends at Cross Check Catahoulas, simply spoken, it says volumes.

"Pedigree indicates what the animal should be. Conformation indicates what the animal appears to be. Performance indicates what the animal actually is." - Anonymous

Friday, September 3, 2010

Catahoulas Are Very Misunderstood

I am a breeder, and at de la Houssaye's Catahoulas, I make my best effort to match dogs with the right people and vice versa.

I think this is another myth, and very similar to the myths about pitbulls.

Catahoulas are aggresive.

I don't know where this comes from. Protective, yes and can they be a threat, yes. But judging how I hear so many stories about Catahoulas being aggresive, I wonder could it be, because of the rarity of the breed, most people don't know a Catahoula from a cross bred dog.

Worse yet most people do not know how to communicate authority, through voice tone.
And in my opinion, voice tone, is the most crucial form of communication,
in obedience training. And if you are not the boss, they step up and you have to play by their rules.

Below is a link to a forum where someone asked a question as to how to train a Catahoula not to be aggresive.

Judging by the answers to this question, I am not surprised to hear so many people who call me about buying a dog, have so much misunderstanding about the breed in general.

If this forum is an example of the "information" people get off the internet about Catahoulas, no wonder there is so much concern in people about owning one.

I do make my best effort to screen my customers, who want to buy a Catahoula, because they like the way it looks, or if they "just want a pet", but I had no idea there was so much problems with Catahoulas being misunderstood and not properly handled. until I read this forum.

Here is one of the "answers" and it makes me wonder if this was even a Catahoula.


I don't know what to tell you except BE CAREFUL!!! My daughter was attacked 4 days ago by one of these dogs. The owner told her to play ball with it and everything was fine. However, he didn't tell her not to go near his cage. She did and he viciously attacked her. She has broken bones, and an infection that isn't going away even with antibiotics. Apparently the dog has attacked several other dogs as well. My daughter is on a competitive gymnastics team, and competitive cheer team. She is now done for the season. Also the hand she writes with is mangled. She worked all of last summer at a pet salon and is well trained in the proper handling of dogs. I thought it was just that dog, but as I read, these dogs just suck as house pets. I am suing their asses off, so protect yourself, and don't let it near humans!!!!!!!!!


Because I have never heard of anything like this ever happening with a pure bred Catahoula, I have to wonder if maybe it was a Pit Bull cross or worse, maybe a Rottwieller cross.

At any rate there appears to be a growing interest in Catahoulas, and judging by the publics reaction in this forum, we breeders and owners of Catahoulas need to be aware, of the challenges of educating the public at large as to the realities of well bred dogs and also the responsibility of proper raising and handling of these great working dogs should someone want one "just for a pet".

I have to wonder if the owners anxiety and expectation of pending trouble, while walking the dog in public is actually more of an influence in the dogs behavior than genetics in the breed.

A Catahoula is very sensitive to its masters vibes and body language.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Myths vs. Reality

If you are just getting into hog hunting and think you are going to find a good finished dog for a price you can afford, I have one thing to say to you: good luck.

Many people who are new at this operate under gross assumptions, myths and illusions, thinking if they can just find a good dog, they are hunting hogs.

I want to write this post to dispel some of the myths I have uncovered along the way, and maybe help you get your hog hunting going. It appears sometimes myths are passed on from person to person, and other times we assume things based upon logical conclusions that we know nothing about. I know I have suffered personally, on both accounts.

If you are operating under the myth or illusion that there are a lot of good dogs out there for sale, and you are going to buy one and it work first time out. Go here and look: Oh there are a lot of dogs for sale, and I see a lot of top names in there, but based on reports I have gotten from so many people who buy my dogs, there is a lot of trash being advertised on the Internet. Now just because there is one or two of the top names on the papers is no guarantee of hunt. They may have bred a great dog to trash, and big surprise: gotten trash.

The old timers have told me of people bringing trash and paying $500-1,000 stud fee to bred their dog, and then complaining, that the stud didn't produce hunting dogs. Well what do you expect? You bred it to trash!

So here are three myths rolled into one: if the dog is a registered Catahoula, and comes from hunting stock, and it has top names on those papers, it will hunt hogs.

I have customers who have hog dogs that came from me that are so amazed how fine these dogs are compared to what they had before. So I asked if I could list them as a reference, and they are concerned someone may come to their house and steal em. So they have asked me to not mention their name here. One of which I also asked if he would refer his hunting buddies as customers to me, and he said no I can't do that either on account of he don't hunt with the crew he used to hunt with before he got my dogs. Because they want to run a pack of dogs and don't understand what a good dog is because they never had one. And every time he runs with them, they put too many dogs on the ground, and guess whose dogs get cut up? Problem is, if they go hunting hogs without him, they don't catch hogs.

Another guy, advised me that he and his friends in the past bought dogs until they found a good one, and have gone through sometimes 20 and 30 dogs before they got a good one, that was, until he started getting dogs from me.

And because the dogs he bought from me, would start before they were a year old, and hunt as a one dog situation, he doesn't have nearly as many injuries as he did when he ran a pack of dogs with his friends.

Now almost every top breeder I talk to tells me the same thing: they have almost given up on selling their started and finished dogs to the public at large as hog dogs. Why? To quote most of them; "Because hog hunters are morons." And people, I want to tell you, I have heard it again, and again, and again. Years ago, the old timers were telling me they quit breeding because they were fed up with dealing with the public.(meaning the morons) Now I don't want to offend anyone, but if the shoe fits, wear it. And don't get me wrong here, if you are just getting started hunting hogs I don't want to make it sound like it is an automatic indication of a low IQ!

Please bear with me, I have been trying to figure out how to bring up the subject of the moron hog hunters a politely as possible, becaue I hear this from all the top breeders.

Like how they spend hours on the phone screening and trying to educate people about how smart and unique Catahoulas are.

I actually hope to make the situation better by educating people along the way, newbies and old timers alike, but as they say, you can't teach an old dog new tricks. But that is a stereotype. And I am getting on in age and always trying to learn as much as I can, so maybe by opening up discussion about some issues here we can all learn something along the way. Me included!

I have learned from my dogs and I have learned from people a lot wiser and more experienced than me. But interesting to note how I learned from the morons along the way too. Learned what? How not to do it. Not all hog hunters are morons, and to say that they are, is to stereotype, and I hate when people do that.

Now I have a problem with stereotypes, like if you are a white, male, and from the south, you are racist, sexist, and stupid! Or if you are a redneck, you are inbred, uneducated, and immoral, or all Christians are hypocrites, all Muslims are terrorists, all blondes are dumb, and all politicians are crooked. Well maybe the last one fits. ;-)

But the problem here, for someone just getting into hog hunting, is to find someone who has good dogs, who knows what he is doing, and can help the newbie find a good dog, or raise a puppy right, get well started, properly trained and then properly handle that dog in the woods, is damn near impossible. What is a newbie to do? If you are just getting into this, best advise I can give you is: don't get in a hurry.

I have people calling me from all around the world, Europe to Australia, telling me the same thing; they talk to a lot of people and no one is straight up and honest about the harsh realities of breeding, raising, training, and hunting Catahoulas on hogs, like me. I have been very fortunate to have been around great dogs most of my life, and since going to the Uncle Earls in 1996, meeting and befriending a lot of really smart, common sense hog hunters.

C Arrow Patch, NALC registered, and top stud in my yard.

Now some of us have no doubt lucked out, and found good dogs for cheap. It does happen, consider that I bought Patch at the Uncle Earls for a hundred dollars, and he after being a yard and porch hound pet for two years, found hogs the first time we went to the woods, all on his own. Of course, there were hogs there! But he didn't honor Bobs bay, Patch went and found his own hog at the same time Bob was bayed up. Wow! And what was that? That is foundation bred. I have the papers on him to prove it. Generation after generation of proven hunters, on the top and the bottom, and what do you get? A hunting dog who was never trained or started, and the first time he went to the woods at 2 1/2 years old, he found his own hog. And then his children and grandchildren, same thing.

Simon, a grandson of Patch and the legendary Maurice.

I have also brought him hunting to places where we found sign, and found no hogs, and the people I was with who were judging my dogs for sale, thought there was something "wrong" with the dogs, meaning he was "no good" because we didn't find the hogs.

Here is another myth I have seen people operate in again and again: if there is fresh sign, a good dog will find the hogs no matter what. And if the dog didn't find hogs, they reject or get mad at the dog.

There was fresh sign there, like an hour or two old, and I advised him the hogs went the other way, he argued with me, and we continued in the direction he wanted to go, and ran into his neighbor about an hour later, who confirmed my position on the hogs, they had crossed the road in front of his house about three hours earlier. He then challenged my judgement once again, claimed that if the dog was any good he would have followed the hogs and not us.

I believe this guy does not understand a long range vs. a short range dog. And a short range dog will usually follow the hunter and not the hogs, if the scent is weak, and thus the hogs are not close or short ranged. A long range dog on the other hand, will follow scent several hours old and hang with it for hours to find the hog. There is a catch here, you better have a tracking collar on that dog.

He then drove several hours to Texas, bought long ranged dogs and soon after, lost them for lack of a tracking system. Not too smart!

So what I am getting at here is that there are great dogs out there and for someone just getting into it, it is damn near impossible to luck out and find a good finished dog, at a price you can afford, and then know how to handle that dog. And from talking to people who have responded to my advertising, about 95% of the people shopping for a hog dog, want a finished long range dog. Problem with that, is most people fail to grasp that the dog hunts not only because of genetics, but a relationship with the hunter. A finished dog no matter how good, may need a warm up period of a month or several months before really getting out and hunting for a new owner.

Worse than that, is assuming that papers on a dog, will make it a good dog. Period!

Here is another myth, papered dogs are good purebred bloodlines, that will find hogs.

Let me let you in on a secret; them papers don't mean nothing, unless you have the right names on it. And if you are just getting started, it may take you years to figure out who is who. And some of these dogs on the papers sold for 10, 15, and 20 thousand dollars ten years ago, but got bred to trash along the way. Now if the person doing the breeding is diluting instead of building on a strong foundation, and always looking for better dogs, time after time, this may not be good dogs in spite of having a few of the right names there.

Here is another big myth:

OK papers or not, if it comes from parents that hunt, it must be a good chance that the cross will work, so buy one of those puppies, so the puppy you invest years, and hundreds of dollars in, will most likely hunt. Often those investments don't work for one of two reasons, either it is not a good foundation bred cross, or the hunter is expecting too much, too soon.

Which brings me to the last myth we'll get into in this post:

If it is going to be a good dog, it should be baying a hog in a pen, early on.

I have a puppy that was well bred, raised right, and in spite of being around about 50 other pups and big dogs baying in a pen, she never, ever, bayed in the pen. But before she was a year old, I took her to the woods, and she hunted her ass off. Where is this coming from? How about she is a granddaughter of Bobalou and Ruby, on the mothers side, and great grand daughter, of Two Diamonds Cutter crossed with Camp-a-While's Abbey on the daddy's side. Who cares if she bays a hog in a pen? She hunts!

The pen has a lot of myths associated with it, but we won't get into them here, but let me say this:

The pen really does help with some dogs, but if a dog doesn't bay in the pen, don't write em off until you hunt em. Because you may be expecting too much, too soon, and in the wrong place. The pen is a good place to start a pup, train them to survive in the woods, and evaluate progress, but never assume you are training a dog to "hunt" in the pen.

I have had people call me to train their dog because it wouldn't hunt. They wanted me to get the dog started. So I asked about the breeding, and when he told me, I said; "Wow, this dog comes from the best out there." Then we discussed, what the dog was doing and not doing. Come to find out, because the dog never bayed a hog in the pen, so he never took it to the woods to see if it would hunt!

Guess what happened when he took the dog to the woods, it hunted. Considering it was two years old, I thought perfect timing.

So look if you are just getting into this, try to find someone who hunts regularly, and also try to hunt with as many people as possible because there is no one set way to this, and basically, every hunt is different. The more people you hunt with, the more chance you have of discovering what is right for you. Because of terrain variations, climate, and every hog, like every dog has its own peculiarities, all these combinations work out to make hog hunting, the fastest growing and most interesting sport in America today.

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 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? 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 if you would like to study hog hunting on a DVD.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Philosophy Of Hunting And Fishing

`This post will be philosophical beause;

I believe there are a lot of people who need to be reminded that they are on the right track. Reminded, because there are a lot of newbies who have made hog hunting a competitive sport. And worse a lot of people are lately calling hunting and fishing a bloodsport.

What is important is being in the woods with your dogs communing with nature. And if you luck out and find fresh sign, and your dogs luck out and can stop these running s.o.b.'s, you might get something tied and put meat on the table. Or it may be the great pleasure of catch and release. Why catch and release? Because you can, last I looked it was a free country.

More importantly if you hunt hogs, you have the opportunity to get some young ones out of the house, away from the computer and the virtual world, and into some real all American adventure.

You can do fishing, tubing or jetskiing too. The point is; spend some time with your kids, or any ones kids and use hog hunting or fishing to do it.

I want to share an email with you:



Hello Marcus. I live in Irving, Tx, a suburb of Dallas.

I made a recent post on your blog under the name of Weaseldog2001.

I've enjoyed reading what you have written.

Until coming across your blog, I believed that hunting in the USA had simply turned into a point and shoot sport, where you wait for your game to come eat at a designated place and you simply shoot it. Then you get to go back to the lodge and brag about what a great hunter you are.

That's not how I used to hunt with my grandpa in East Texas, many, many years ago. Of course, with a kid in tow, my grandfather didn't get much game.

These email is leading up to a point... :)

Do you know of any outfits in my area that support hunting as you prefer to do it, with a dog and a bit of hiking?

Could you refer me to someone in your neck of the woods that can be my guide on such a hunt?

I'm not interested in a guaranteed kill so much as getting out and spending some out in the wilderness again. As an adult it's been twenty years since I've done multi-day wilderness hikes with a dog and I miss it.

Further, I have a two year old Catahoula that is my faithful sidekick. I've taken him hiking in some of the wildlife preserves in my area. He's not prone to running off. Would it be a bad idea to take him on a hunt with his (and my) relative inexperience?

Your swamp tours sound interesting.

Thank you for your time in reading this.
I appreciate any time you can take in answering.


What is interesting about his email is that he remembers how his Grandpa took him hunting and comments that they didn't get much game because a kid was factored in to the hunt. I have to wonder if that really mattered to grandpa. Because what may have really mattered was grandpa spending time with a young one. And not just for grandpa's sake, but for the pleasure of grandpa to share with a young one the experience of what seems to be a way of life many of us today have lost.

Being in the woods with your family and your animals. And for me animals is plural because I want to hunt from a saddle on a mule or horse. At 55 years old, I can't keep up with these dogs like I used to.

Too many of us have grown up using machines to do everything for us. Cooking and storing our food, washing our clothes, cutting grass, transportation, and communication. Hell, I love my cell phone, but I am getting to a point of hating email, because too many of those is a waste of my time. And I am getting sensitive about cell phone time too. Especially when my daughter, complains that I am spending too much time on the phone, and not with her.

Folks, I am talking about relationship, with nature, our dogs, and more importantly our family and neighbors.

Here is a photo of a couple of kids, I took on a fishing trip recently.

What is the point I am trying to make here? Well several; because not only is this about our dogs and our children, it is about a way of life presently threatened that needs to be preserved. Simply put; use it or lose it.

Many vitual reality minded city slicker people today claim that hunting and fishing is not a necessity as in the old days, but a luxury, and we are being cruel to animals purely for our pleasure.

Hey, I understand their logic, because there is a Winn Dixie right up the road with meat and seafood. But being a commercial fisherman and a recreational hunter, not to mention growing up am a farm with chickens, cows, hogs and a garden, I hate the overpriced, radiated, chemically altered, over-priced junk being sold up the road.

Call me crazy, I don't care, but there may be a time and sooner than you might think, when gardening, hunting and fishing is once again a way of life, and not purely recreational.

If you are womdering why your dog is not motivated to hunt, may be he knows that it is not a life support system, but just something you want to use him to brag about how great of a hunter YOU are. Why don't you try hog hunting without your dog and see how great of a hunter you are.

Let us not forget the time honored traditions of hunting and fishing, and share that with the younger generations purely for their benefit, because the time may come when thsy need to hunt and fish for survival.

And what a shame it would be if they didn't know how.

I don't have time at the moment, cuz my truck is going in the shop this morning, but there is a whole lot more I want to say about our relationship between us our dogs and our children and the natural environment out there.

Those who say it can't or shouldn't be done,
need to get out of the way of those doing it!

And hey be careful out there, here is a 15 foot eastern diamondback rattler which was caught in a suburb of Jacksonville, Texas.

Not to mention this big boy couldn't catch a dog so he is having pork for breakfast.