Activities For Hound Dogs

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Introduction

Have you ever heard anyone use the phrase "hounded" to describe an interaction with someone (as in the manager hounded the new employee regarding tardiness)? If so, there is a good reason why some people use the term hound or hounded to describe another person. Hounds are persistent pups; once they scent their prey, nothing can stop them from going after their prize. They seem to be ruled by their noses, so, when planning activities, utilizing this characteristic of a scent hound might be the key to fun play with your pet. Remember, hounds "diligently search" for something, so engage this personality trait for a fun bonding experience with your pup.

Meal Time Treasure Hunt

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Any Day
Cheap
Easy
30 min
Items needed
dry kibble
Activity description
Make meal time game time with this fun activity! You can set this up for your dog to enjoy while you are away, or you can make finding food an adventure as you monitor your pup's fun. Since your hound's nose is slightly more sensitive than the average pup's you should be able to set up piles of dry kibble anywhere you wish without having to go to great lengths to ensure that the dog can actually smell the food. However, the first time through, you might want to leash your dog and show them where the piles are located, then have fun seeing if your pup remembers them all.
Step
1
Practice
Bring your dog into the kitchen or another tiled area. Command the dog to sit and allow the dog to watch as you place the food in various places. Place the leash on your dog, guide the pup to the piles, all the while saying, "Find it."
Step
2
Play
Once you believe your pup understands what you expect, begin piling kibble when the dog is out of the room. Then, call the pup into the room and command them to "Find it." If your dog can find the kibble piles, then the pup is ready for you to leave a similar treasure hunt while you are away.
Step
3
Home alone
Do you have to leave for work or an appointment? Do you allow your dog the run of the place while you are out running errands? Then don't feed Fido before you leave; place the piles of kibble and command the pup to "Find it" while you duck out the door. This may help with separation anxiety as it distracts the pup from your exit.
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Tracking Trials

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Sunny Day
Moderate
Normal
60 min
Items needed
harness
20 - 40 foot leash
flags for marking the track
Activity description
Training your pup to participate in tracking activities is a great way to utilize their natural scenting abilities. Some places offer this type of competition much the way that other areas offer agility competitions. While all dogs have some natural tendency to track, it is stronger in the hound group of canines. Once the dog picks up on a scent, it will be difficult to tear the tenacious pup away from the trail. So, utilize this activity to allow your dog to do something they were born to do! Plus, the two of you will get great exercise at the same time.
Step
1
Take the test
Wait - if your dog has a natural tendency to track, why should you test your dog? The American Kennel Club recommends (but does not require) that all novice participants test their dog's abilities with the Tracking Dog Test. The test is very simple; it is merely following a trail of items dropped along the path.
Step
2
The contest
American Kennel Club-sponsored tracking events (even those hosted by smaller clubs) are two days in duration, no matter the weather conditions. One day is spent by the judges plotting the track. The second day is the exhibitor's turn to show what your pup has. The contest begins when your dog straps on a harness, and your pup is not allowed off the leash at any time.
Step
3
Winners announced
There is no time limit when a dog is tracking, so that is not a determinant in a winner. The winner is determined by what dog stays on task while on the track (dogs that are found to have stepped off the track are disqualified). As long as all articles placed by the judges are found, the dog will be awarded for tracking at the exhibit.
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Nose Work

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Any Day
Cheap
Normal
30 min
Items needed
small treats
a favorite toy that has been "scented"
Activity description
A hound naturally utilizes their nose. Even hounds that have been utilized more for companion dogs in recent history, such as the Basset Hound, still have a strong instinct to track. Take advantage of this when creating fun and interesting nose work for your pup. Tracking can take place indoors or outdoors, so weather need not deter you from enjoying a fun tracking game with your pet. When using the nose to track outdoors, leave your pup inside as you "hide" treats for the pup to find (for training purposes, you might want to purchase "smelly" treats - those with a stronger smell). If playing while inside, put your pup in another room while you hide the treats. Also, you can incorporate a favorite toy into this game. To "scent" the toy, simply slice open a hot dog and rub the toy with the insides of the meat.
Step
1
Training time
When you begin nose work, you will need to show your pup exactly what you expect. At first, you may allow your dog to see where you hide the treats. Make sure that the dog "sits" as you do this. When you have hidden two or three treats, say, "Find it." Make the dog sit between each treat. Be sure to praise the dog when each treat is found. Once you feel your dog has the hang of the game, then you can begin putting your pup in the utility room or the bathroom when you hide the treats.
Step
2
Tracking toys
You can also choose a favorite toy with which to learn to track. You may utilize a tennis ball that you've scented with a hot dog. Be sure that your dog knows the sit, stay, and give commands before attempting this game.
Step
3
Have fun
If you are indoors, tracking the toy might be an easier option. Have your dog watch as you hide the toy. As your pup gets the hang of the game, change things up. Place the ball in an area accessible to the pup, but also out of sight. Increase the challenge, but give plenty of praise for a job well done.
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More Fun Ideas...

Hide and Go Seek

A variation of the kibble game mentioned above is placing treats under opaque cups and allowing your pup to sniff them out.

Have Your Pup Track You

If the actual tracking trials aren't for you, you can place some of your items along a trail of your choosing and see if your hound can find you.

Conclusion

The hound dog is a working dog, so, when planning activities for the pup, make sure that you engage the dog both mentally and physically. You can train your dog to track you or a partner of your choosing. You might even be interested in participating in tracking trials sponsored by the American Kennel Club. Or, you might just find that you play a few scent games at home to give your hound some practice tracking. Above all, have fun with your pup!