Whether because of their soulful eyes, their soft, long and velvety ears, or their sweet expressions, it’s easy to fall in love with hounds. You may be in for a rude awakening, though, once you realize that, when it comes to training, your hound has his own agenda. All he wants to do is sniff. Training your scent-obsessed hound doesn’t come without challenges; however, once you find an appropriate training method and the right incentives, then perseverance and patience will do the rest. Following are some tips for dealing with scent-obsessed hounds.
Consider the History
A glimpse into a scent hound’s history reveals a past as tireless hunters with loads of energy and stamina. Courtesy of their powerful sniffers, most hounds were developed for the purpose of hunting hare. It’s no wonder why hounds are often described as “noses with four legs.” Because of their superior sniffing capabilities, hounds that hunt by scent are categorized as scent hounds.
Not Stubborn as Thought
Bred to work with their noses, it’s natural for hounds to be distracted by scent. One of the biggest challenges in training these dogs is getting them to come when called. One second your hound is walking toward you, the next he has deviated to go sniff a spot. You can’t blame him, though: most hounds were selectively bred to work at a distance from their hunters and are quite independent. What looks like stubbornness is, in fact, the dogs just doing what they were bred for.
Enroll your hound in reward-based obedience classes. Even the most scent-obsessed hounds are highly motivated by food, so they respond well to training with treats. Use the treats to lure your hound into a sit or down, or call him to you, and then reward him with the treats. Your obedience trainer will show you how to “fade” the food lure so you won’t fall in the bribery trap and so your hound will obey even when the treat isn’t in sight.
Despite what people think, hounds are highly intelligent creatures who can get easily bored from a tedious obedience session. Make sure to make those training sessions fun, varied and upbeat to keep his focus alive. Ensure that your hound is exercised enough during the day. Hounds can be sensitive, so avoid implementing harsh training techniques, which will only cause your hound to dread being trained.
Put Hounds to Work
There’s nothing more rewarding for a scent-obsessed hound than being allowed to follow his instinct to put his nose to work. After completing a basic obedience class, enroll him in the canine sport of nose work, where he is trained to seek a reward hidden in one of several boxes. Once he gets good at this, he can progress to learning new search skills and may even competition. Alternatively, a scent-obsessed hound can be enrolled in rabbit-hunting field trials where his tracking and hunting abilities are put to test.
You may enroll your pup in obedience training in hopes that this will stop him from escaping the yard or that training will turn your pooch into the most obedient dog on Earth. While you may occasionally stumble on hounds who have earned obedience titles, no matter how much training they receive, most hounds’ lives will remain for the most part ruled by their noses. To keep your hound safe at all times, keep him in a fenced yard and always keep him on-leash on walks, to prevent him from wandering away for a sniff.