Elvis said it best when he said that there isn't anything like a hound dog, and the American English Coonhound is no exception to this rule. As the proud owner of an American English Coonhound, his loyalty and affectionate nature warms your heart. His drive to hunt and penchant for daily, vigorous physical activity has helped to get you into the best shape of your life. Yet though your American English Coonhound seems to derive great pleasure from pleasing you, training him is quite another matter. Hound breeds can be particularly difficult to train. Is stubbornness a breed trait common to the American English Coonhound, or is it just your dog who doesn't seem to want to learn new things? Or maybe what you are attributing to Fido digging his paws in isn't really stubbornness at all. A thorough study of the American English Coonhound's breed history can help to uncover some potential motivations behind his seeming unwillingness to participate in training sessions. Since the American English Coonhound was bred to participate in team activities, it seems unlikely that he is expressing his distaste at your training methods. If your American English Coonhound is particularly bull-headed, what is causing it, and what can you do to help him learn?
The Root of the Behavior
The American English Coonhound, also sometimes referred to as the Redtick Coonhound, is an amiable fellow with the personality of a true gentleman. This beloved hound breed has a combined heritage that is both distinctly American and English. England contributes the bloodlines to this highly driven breed while the United States is home to the dog's breeding refinement and birth as a new variant of the English Foxhounds that formed an important part of his ancestry. The American English Coonhound is one of six types of hounds developed specifically to hunt raccoons, a plentiful food source in the Americas. Fox hunting remained a favorite pastime in 18th century England. With an eye to continuing this much-loved pastime during their time in the United States, the Englishmen brought their English Foxhounds with them to remain in their roles as valued companions and workers on a hunt. It has been said that George Washington maintained a fascination with hounds used to hunt foxes, and many hounds employed for such use were imported to America for use in hunting.
The original American English Coonhound was the result of mixing of a variety of different types of Coonhounds and Foxhounds to create the perfect blend of temperament, drive, and conformation that we know and love today. The breed has undergone many different name variants before finally settling on the name it bears today, a proud throwback to its heritage as both an American and an English hunting hound. Many seasoned hunters proclaim the American English Coonhound to be their hunting dog of choice and state that if they can't own one, they would rather not own a dog at all. Loyalties to this breed run quite high amongst hunters and families alike. This dog breed is attributed to be the fastest of all of the hound breeds, making him a valued asset on any hunt. American English Coonhounds were bred specifically to hunt in groups of dogs, and they are most at ease when in a pack. This breed is exceptionally friendly to both people and other animals. One distinctive hallmark of the breed is his unique hound bay employed at times of high excitability or to alert the hunter to the presence of detected prey when on a hunt. So, if the American English Coonhound was bred to participate in team activities, how come he resists any efforts you make for the two of you to work as collaboratively?
Encouraging the Behavior
Owners of this cherished dog breed claim that the American English Coonhound possesses a multi-faceted personality. These dogs exhibit different characteristics when on the hunt in a field and when cuddled up next to you on the couch. American English Coonhounds are fearless, tenacious, and driven when on a hunt. They doggedly pursue prey and refuse to back down or give in. This stubbornness in the field is highly prized by the hunter. But it is not such a favorable trait in a house pet who seems to not want to listen. As a scent hound, the American English Coonhound is relentless in his attempts to pursue an inviting scent. What could be perceived as stubbornness is merely lack of focus. Your dog is not wired to respond to sound including verbal cues. His nature drives him to use his nose to accomplish his purpose. Does this mean that your dog is untrainable? Not at all; in fact, quite the opposite. What it does mean is that your dog requires a different approach to achieving your training goals. By making use of your dog's natural instincts, you can help him to learn that training can be a lot of fun for you both.
Since your dog intuitively craves team-building activities, building on his hardwired in strengths is key to learning new behaviors. There is no doubt that the American English Coonhound is not the for the inexperienced dog owner. Breed experts share that it takes an inordinate amount of patient interaction to teach this type of dog a new skill. Others are also off-put by his sharp baying which can be quite loud and is impossible to ignore. As with most hound breeds, American English Coonhounds are particularly motivated by food. However, since food engages their superpower (potent scent detection), they can become so focused on the food that they become obsessed with how to get the food out of your hand instead of complying with your command. For this reason, it is best to use a lower value reward when training your American English Coonhound. This will help reduce frustration for both of you during training sessions. To date, this breed is bred nearly exclusively as a hunting dog as opposed to a family companion, though the dog's temperament makes him equally well suited to both endeavors.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Breed experts maintain that American English Coonhounds can be quite similar to Terriers when it comes to training. The key is to find a way for your dog to think that the training session and its hopeful result was his idea in the first place. If an American English Coonhound doesn't want to learn something, he may dig in his heels and stubbornly refuse. This breed requires an experienced handler with the ability to finesse the dog into learning new skills. This is not a dog that will happily offer commanded behaviors simply because it makes you happy even though they are genial and happy and enjoy time spent with their "people." They are simply dogs that know their own minds and don't like being pushed into things they have no interest in doing. Because of their intense scent tracking capabilities which includes the ability to detect a scent which has long since gone cold.
American English Coonhounds are incredibly difficult to call back if they have taken off on the wind of a scent. A solid recall is an important command in every dog's "trick" repertoire, and it is no different with the American English Coonhound. However, it will take an inordinate amount of time and practice to accomplish. You may need to roll in a dead raccoon's carcass to aid your efforts. Well, not really. This breed is highly intelligent and possesses a "never give up" attitude. If channeled appropriately, these can be excellent qualities to use in training opportunities. However, due to the nature of this breed, it is unlikely that your American English Coonhound is destined for competitive obedience greatness. Since the American English Coonhound is primarily a nocturnal hunter, his bays can often be heard during nighttime forays into your yard much to your neighbors' chagrin.
Got the hound dog blues because your American English Coonhound just doesn't seem interested in learning? If so, you're not alone. This lovable breed is a fan favorite amongst hunters and families alike, but unfortunately, stubbornness is a large part of his genetic makeup. Make use of food rewards and clever training techniques to encourage Fido to use his nose to help make training times more enjoyable for you both.
By a Parson Russel Terrier lover Jason Homan
Published: 04/20/2018, edited: 01/30/2020