Each breed is predisposed to different traits. Because of this, a well-researched study of the American English Coonhound's history can provide valuable insights into why your dog does the thing he does. But more than this, many behaviors are common to all dog breeds and can trace their roots back to their wild dog ancestors and their struggle to survive in a sometimes less than hospitable environment. If your American English Coonhound loves to chase, is his behavior normal? Is there hope that you can keep him safe and secure in your yard?
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The Root of the Behavior
This genial breed prefers to be in the company of other dogs, a well-established trait in this dog bred to hunt in packs. His distinctive howl is unmistakable in tenor, tone, and volume. Amongst hunters, the American English Coonhound has earned the reputation as the fastest of all breeds in its same classification. Many breed aficionados proclaim, "If I couldn’t have an English hound, I’d give up hunting.” But the American English Coonhound finds his place in homes as well. Characterized by his pleasant personality and friendly nature, the American English Coonhound can also be well-suited to family living. However, due to the breed's headstrongness, they are a challenge to train, making them a better choice for the experienced dog owner. The American English Coonhound's history helps to explain his penchant for chasing things. As a hunting dog, his ability to keep up with prey while in the field would be of great importance to the pack and his owner. Chasing is a behavior that is instinctive to this breed. Since he has been hardwired to pursue quickly moving quarry on a hunt, the American English Coonhound also bears a predilection for chasing moving objects resembling prey while in his yard or out on a walk as well.
Encouraging the Behavior
To combat this type of behavior, it is important to ensure that your American English Coonhound receives regular daily exercise for his body and has access to toys, bones, puzzles, and other things to keep his brain and his jaws productive. An engaged dog rarely has the time or the interest to seek out things to chase. Many owners are surprised to discover that their American English Coonhound not only likes to chase moving objects, but they also possess the ability to climb trees in his pursuit of them. Since trees are a favored hiding spot for raccoons, this skill served the breed well when out in the field on a hunt. However, it is another cause for concern for the average pet owner. Dogs who scale trees can easily become injured, but more than that, they can also jump fences, giving them free rein in the neighborhood. While Fido might enjoy a day chasing all of your neighbors' pets, it's hardly good for community relations. Although it is well-established that the American English Coonhound likes to chase things, it is still necessary for his safety that he be taught a proper recall. The recall command is the one tool in every dog's trick repertoire that has the power to save his life.
Other Solutions and Considerations
In general, this breed is highly food motivated and can be enticed to learn through the use of some of his favorite foods. However, even food will not convince an uninterested hound that training is fun. For this reason, it is important to keep sessions very short and to find creative ways to keep them lively. As you work on training your American English Coonhound to come when called, it is important to keep him on a lead in areas where he could become loose and a danger to small animals and even to himself. A loose dog chasing prey puts both himself and the prey at risk because he is too focused on the hunt to notice any vehicles around him. If you have a fenced yard, take care to ensure that your fence is of a sufficient height and strength that your American English Coonhound cannot easily scale it in search of something fun to chase. If you cannot be there to supervise your dog's outdoor time, make certain that he has access to a variety of fun items to choose from to engage his mind and his body in a positive manner.