Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Brain Train Your Catahoula Hog Dog

Keeping a Catahoula Cur puppy or dog focused and mentally stimulated is important.

If we don’t pay enough attention early enough to our started puppy and later to our finished dogs’ minds, they often become bored or start misbehaving, and their mental health can quickly deteriorate. In my opinion, a finished dog is never finished learning! To avoid these problems which could lead to dog fights on the road or at home or worse: to your dog trashing on something other than a wild hog in the woods, here are 5 quick tips to challenge your dog’s brainpower, keep him focused and turn him into a hog hunting genius!
1) Go off the Beaten Path and Diversify Your Dogs Activities
All year long, keep a kennel in the back of your truck even when it is not hunting season and take your dog places like the hardware store on a Saturday morning, or on family walks or fishing trips. 

Yes, literally, haul, hunt, scout and walk your dog in as many new areas and routes as much as possible and at the very least every once in a while. I call it boat and 'road dog' conditioning. And I do it year-round so my dog has a life off the chain and learns to be a well-behaved tourist on the road or on the water in a boat. 

If you take your dog on family walks using the same woods and path each and every day or when you scout in the offseason, he’s missing opportunities to come across anything new and be distracted during hog hunts. But don’t limit this scent training to just scouting and family walks; expand it to all areas of your dog’s life. 

Teach your dog a new skill, let him sniff out new places, or try taking part in a cow dog, blood trail dog or hog dog field trial or some other competitive sport. Keep your dog’s environment full of new and exciting things, and offer him plenty of opportunities to use his brain. If all you do is leave your dog kenneled and tied unless you are hog hunting, he will not be as good a hog hunter as someone who 'spoils' their dog and allows him to be a family pet and the clean family inside pet/hog dog. Now I know some of you believe that he cannot be an inside family pet and a good hog hunter, but that philosophy doesn't apply to well-bred Catahoula Curs and I will agree if you are feeding him too much because he won't hunt because a hungry dog hunts, and a dog whose guts are packed with Ol' Roy high pro is not 'motivated' to hunt. Always remember: HUNGRY DOGS HUNT!
2) Hide Your Dog’s Treats and Bones
Puppies and dogs can be quite playful and determined when it comes to getting the things they want, so why not use this to put their brains to work? 

If your puppy or dog wants a bone, try placing it under a laundry basket or hiding it under a blanket (making sure he doesn't see you put it there). Then, sit back and watch him use his nose and problem-solving skills to try and get it. When he solves the puzzle, praise him just as he reaches for the bone.

If your dog struggles or gets frustrated, make the exercise easier at first, and then gradually make it harder and harder over time. Throw a Frisbee, get him to retrieve a stick or make a liver drag and train your dog to trail blood for deer season. If all you do is hog hunt or tie your dog, he will not be as good as someone who hauled their dog everywhere, year round
3) Increase Your Dog’s Vocabulary
Dogs may not speak our language, but they understand every word we say and are always ready to learn new words, so why not take the time to expand your dog’s vocabulary? For example, you could start saying "load 'em up" when leading him to the truck or boat, and “let’s go potty” just before opening the door to let your dog out. After doing this often enough, your dog should come running over when you say; "load 'em up!" at the truck, or if they are an inside dog, and need to be let out whenever you say “let’s go potty.” Dogs are pretty fast to learn to associate a particular action with a word or phrase, and are quick to anticipate what will happen next, so you will usually see results very quickly.
4) Never Stop Training and DON'T assume he is a cull if not hunting by 6-8 months
Don’t stop training your dog/puppy when he is not hunting by 6-8 months or if he gets a cracked rib and quits hunting, or when he slows down and reaches his golden years. “If you don’t use it, you lose it” especially applies to young started and also to senior dogs. Yes, old dogs can learn new tricks, the only thing is, they may take just a little bit longer to learn them, but be patient and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. So don’t let that brain go to rust, an older dog’s brain never loses its ability to learn new things so long as you give it the chance.
5) Brain Training for Dogs
The canine brain is like a muscle – if you don’t challenge it, it won’t grow! That’s why the best way to make your dog a smarter hog dog is by teaching him special “brain games” and “brain exercises.” Brain games are fun little games you can play with your dog to teach him new skills and increase his intelligence as you turn your dog into a well-behaved and obedient hog hunting genius! 

And if you are looking for something to do with your dog... Don't miss the 25th Uncle Earl's Hog Dog Trials coming up at the end of March in Winnfield, Louisiana.

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