Catahoula are not like a normal dog. They are much more wonderful. They are also more work, orders of magnitude both smarter and more stubborn. They are also puppies for up to 3 years. It takes a determined owner to have one of these around farm animals. Their desire is to chase and subdue stubborn animals. At 3 a light switch flips and the dog becomes wary of strangers, and more protective.
That said there are three rules I’ve learned the hard way. Rules that will help you find the path to success with your pup.
1. Exercise - catahoula have been bred for hundreds of years to run and catch things, or run and herd something stubborn back. They are bred to do their job or die trying. So they absolutely need an outlet for their energy, and a way to keep their mind occupied. Or you will both be miserable. This usually means a job. Hunting, guarding, scent work, herding, they can do anything you want to bother to teach them to do. If you don’t have a farm, or a place to hunt you should find or make a flirt pole. For some catahoula a 2hr run is a good warmup.
2. Consistency: someone told me that most dogs are cognitively like a 2 year old. LGD are like 4-5 year olds and catahoula when fully mature are like a 6 year old human child. That big beautiful brain of theirs pays attention and watches for patterns. When you’re consistent it’s a wonderful thing, and when you aren’t they start testing all your boundaries. Because if one moves maybe the others do too. This will make you both miserable. To be clear: boundaries will still be tested. But not like they would be without consistency.
3. Be the alpha: this, and the first are probably the cause of 90% of all behavioral problems. Training most dogs is about teaching them the meaning of words. But teaching a catahoula is about teaching them to respect you as alpha. Everything else - the meaning of words etc - they pick up along the way.
A friend - a “dog trainer” - was over for supper and asked if she could teach my dog to shake. I told her to go for it. She spent an hour with treats trying to teach my dog joy to shake.
Joy refused to shake. She clowned around, sat up, rolled over she did anything and everything she could think of - including ignoring my friend - except to shake. After an hour my former friend declared my dog too stupid. I called joy over, asked her to shake and she performed perfectly. But I am her alpha, so she obeyed me. She figured out along the way what my friend wanted from her but abjectly refused to obey someone not her alpha.
They are absolutely the best breed of dog, and give back twice or better what you put into them. They are the most loving, loyal, intelligent, excellent dogs I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with.
Crosses are usually less intense, energetic and unbidable than a purebred dog.
A tired catahoula is a good catahoula.
Boss or be bossed
Ps. Ask a native Choctaw - the word “catahoula” doesn’t mean sacred lake.
Look for the definition in the upcoming book “catahoula: a natives perspective” by Renee Jackson. This book contains the true history of the breed from the mouths of those who developed it. As well as the meaning of the breeds name.