by walkerowner on 28 July 2018 - 21:07
We rescued our 2-yr old Treeing Walker Coonhound from a local shelter a few months ago after the state closed down a kennel for various allegations of abuse. We are still getting to know each other and I have a few general questions which those more familiar with the breed might be able to answer.
- She is not at all interested in other animals such as squirrels, deer, chipmunks and groundhogs, with one exception. She is almost uncontrollable at the scent or sight of a raccoon. Is this a natural reaction for the breed or might she have been trained to hunt only raccoons? If trained, what might that mean for her behavior in-house and around people.
- We are near a large dog park with plenty of room to run, about the size of a football field. Early mornings with other hounds and bird dogs are no problem. They all run fast and play hard with no incidents. Later in the day, however, she pushes the lap dogs retrieving tennis balls in an effort to make them chase her and when they do not join in, she barks non-stop, lunges and nipps them from behind in an apparent effort to get them to run after her. When the other dogs do not want to play, she doesn't seem to get the message until they get very rough with her.....and she finds a smaller dog to pester. Are there any suggestions on how to handle this, short of not coming to the dog park when she does not have hunting dogs to play with.
- She is no good off-leash. She doesn't run away, she just gets focused on following a scent and trots off until a different scent takes its place. Is there any hope of training her to come when called?
- She is somewhat aloof and leery of humans. She rarely approaches anyone other than me or my wife and is just not interested in people. She does not mind being pet by others, but she does not seek out the attention. Is this normal for her breed? She is, however, very affectinate with me and my wife.
- She is not much interested in toys, except for a few minutes after waking in the morning. Is this normal?
- Now that she lives at our house, she is an inside dog and mostly sleeps on the main level when not out for rides in the car or walks in the woods (we have a 2 mile square wooded park a few blocks away) or at the dog park. She has yet to follow us upstairs at bedtime....seems happy for us to go so she can leave her dog-bed and take the couch where we find her in the morning. That's ok with us....we really do not want her upstairs, but she has yet to discover there is an upstairs. Seems strange to us. We are wondering if that detached behavior is unusual.
- She is terrified of storms...retreats to the basement and shakes until the thunder and lightning is over. Is this normal for the breed?
- FYI, she's a good dog; does not bark in the house without good cause, does not chew on anything and is well house-broken; only two "accidents" since she came to us. Thanks
by Hundmutter on 29 July 2018 - 07:07
Hi. This is NOT a response from an experienced Coonhound owner, but your questions made me want to comment on some general things pretty common to all dog behaviour, and I hope some of what I reply is helpful to you. I also hope that you do get some experienced people from your breed coming here to help you out; but you may find you do better via Facebook etc, as the PDB is often very sparsely attended by posters from breeds other than the GSD and Malinois owners who use it regularly.
First of all, thank you for taking on a rescued dog, rather than going and buying a puppy. Adopting an older dog with a dodgy background can have its difficulties, but it is also SO rewarding. And there are lots of dogs out there who need that 2nd home !
Some of the things you mention about your Coonhound may depend on that earlier background. Dogs once re-homed are really good at forgetting about poor treatment they may have had - but methods of keeping them and training them (or faiing to train them) can have long-lasting effects, especially once the dog is past its 'growing up stages' before it encounters a change of viewpoint.
You asked first about the reaction to racoons. I can't answer that one for sure, but it does seem to me that you have a mixture of her breed's original purpose (so: nature/genetic), AND that she may well have been asked by the previous kennel owner to concentrate on chasing racoons to the exclusion of other prey (nurture). If you don't actually have a yen to go hunting squirrels, this is probably going to make exercising her a little easier for you !
Personally I doubt if her behaviour towards raccoons is going to impact on life as a house-pet - unless you are one of the households who get regular invasions of their gardens or roof-space by raccoons.
I would keep a very close eye on ANY dog that I knew was likely to obsess about any small furry when around small children, just to be on the safe side.
Next you talk about the different way in which larger dogs play with others: when with their own 'type' and size range of canine, its often possible to see this sort of difference in behaviour. What may be fine as an invitation to play may be experienced by small breeds as too bouncy and threatening, particularly in dogs that don't know each other well already. I know a lot of people don't like 'dog parks' period, and will do anything to find other places to exercise their dog(s). To avoid allowing your coonhound being seen as a bully, then yes, don't take her in the dog park unless there are dogs of similar size there, and get her out again if someone brings a lapdog to the party.
For which you will have to work on that Recall. No dog that has been allowed 'free range' and never taught properly to come in when called will do it naturally and automatically (except perhaps when they get very old !). It is often hard with hounds and other 'hunting' breeds - that's why I choose to be a Shepherd owner ! - but you really should try, for the sake of the dog's own safety. Get some instruction from an experienced Dog Trainer or find a good, well explained book on basic puppy training, find a safe enclosed space to work in and some treats your dog will do most anything for, and practise, practise, practise getting her to come to you when you call her. Use a consistent command and body language; and keep on training (rather than testing) WAY after you THINK she has 'got it'. Use differing distances and angles.
This may be bloody hard work ... but it will pay dividends in the end. And has the added advantage of you really getting to know your dog. And involve other family members who may need the dog to recall to them. You can add in play, like hiding behind trees and calling her in, so that she does not immediately know where she is going back to. So it can be fun, as well as grinding repetition. Don't train the one exercise for too long, either - little and often makes training anything more interesting. But keep it up.
Some dogs - especially from backgrounds where they have had limited human contact - don't really know how to play wth toys. The fact that yours does get something out of it, although limited, is good, as it can be built on. Give her time. But for training purposes I'd use food with this dog. (Some dogs train better for a special toy, but every dog is different).
Remember to deduct food you use in training from the total you feed, or she will get fat.
It has its advantages if a dog does not fawn on everyone with two legs, (some of us have actually chosen a breed renowned for that), and does not try to take over all levels and furnishings of your house. Some owners would kill for a dog they could say those things about ! Many people have the opposite problem(s) and spend $$$ on 'Dog Whisperers' and the like trying to correct them.
Some dogs - of all breeds - have an aversion to the crashes & flashes of fireworks and storms. Does not indicate they are nerve bags in any other circumstances. I've found over the years that dogs living with people who don't react to thunder etc often get better over time.
Glad to hear she is ok re house-breaking etc and a generally nice animal to be around, you struck lucky with her. I wish you all the best for your future together.
by walkerowner on 29 July 2018 - 14:07
Thank you for your reply. We appreciate the insight and encouragement.
by Rik on 29 July 2018 - 20:07
not a coon hunter, but many years friends and working with a guy that has been for close to 50 years. these dogs are bred generation after generation to hunt raccoons. the ones who side trail (and can't be cured), deer, squirrel, rabbit, etc are culled, sometimes rather ruthlessly.
a good one who gets on a trail can end up miles from the starting point, and most hunters keep tracking collars on them.
the serious hunters only care about the tracking (and vocal) and not a lot of thought goes into "people" traits in breeding. they mostly don't want them to not be overly dog or handler aggressive as they are usually in a pack.
what you are seeing in your dog probably is the result of a couple hundred years (Or more) breeding for the one specific purpose from where the name comes. you can't cure it, but it does sound like you are doing a good job giving the dog a new home.
by joanro on 29 July 2018 - 21:07
by walkerowner on 30 July 2018 - 01:07
Thanks for the comments. We are making progress, but I can see how she is wired to hunt raccoons. We are learning more about her and her breed. Thanks.