Coon dogs may be part of a breed, but any dog trained to hunt and trap raccoons can be called one. Training a coon dog may take a while, but the hunt goes much swifter when you have this ally along with you in the woods.
Here are the steps in training a coon dog.
- Teach a puppy to come to you. This is important because you will need your dog by your side during dangerous situations. Wave a treat to him then call his name. When he approaches, give him the treat and administer praise.
- Familiarize them to gunfire. After a few weeks, take a puppy along with you when you fire your rifle. This will prevent him from being startled later on.
- Create a trail using raccoon meat. You can drag a raccoon carcass a short distance across your backyard then hide it under an object. Let your dog smell the trail and follow it to the carcass then lavish him with praise afterwards. Continue this part of the training in the succeeding days, with longer and longer trails.
- Familiarize him to the woods. Take leashed walks with your dog for short periods in the forest. Let him experience the smells, sights and sounds of the environment. You can also try freeing him for short distances so he can gain a feel for the terrain.
- Train him using a live raccoon. Obtain a raccoon, place him in a cage then let your dog have a look at him. Release the raccoon in a field, followed by your dog a minute later. Let your dog track him. Once you catch up with your prey, try shooting at it if it is legal to do so in your district. Reward your dog afterwards.
- Consider pairing a trainee with a more experienced coon dog. A much faster training period will result when the youngster follows the lead of a trained dog. Bring both of them to the woods to hunt actual raccoons. Both you and the senior dog’s enthusiasm and skill for the hunt will motivate the new dog and teach him whole sets of skills at the same time. It is better to pair a male trainee with a female senior dog, as a male dog may perceive his partner as a threat and display aggression towards him.
- Consider enrolling him in a coon dog training facility. Training a coon dog takes time, resources and terrain you may not have, so a well-stocked training facility may be your best option. Locate several such facilities in your vicinity, check out their fees and success rate then enroll your dog to your facility of choice. You can also ask for recommendations from among your friends and associates.
Always thoroughly train a coon dog before taking him out into the woods. There are plenty of things that can go wrong in the wild, and a poorly trained dog can easily panic, become lost or injured during a hunt.