Bobcats are medium sized wild cats that are about twice the size of a domestic cat. They are extremely shy and reclusive, and locating tracks, or bobcat scent is very difficult so hunting bobcats can be a rare occurrence. Often bobcats are located when dogs are on the track of cougars and the bobcat is located incidentally. Bobcats tend to prey on mice, rabbits, and other small wild game, but when they come into contact with human settlement they can pose a problem with pets and small livestock such as poultry, pigs, and sheep, especially in a hard year where natural prey is scarce or when a young, old, or sick bobcat becomes stressed or desperate. In these cases, locating, tracking, and treeing a bobcat with dogs may be necessary to destroy a problem animal or relocate it.
When hunting bobcat, tracks are often located in the snow, or a bobcat scent trail may be located while dogs are out hunting other prey, such as cougar or bear. Locating bobcats is extremely difficult, as they tend to avoid human habitations and are extremely reclusive. Dogs trained to hunt bobcat need to locate a bobcats scent, trail the cat to locate it, flush it from hiding, and chase it to tree the animal, where the bobcat is held in the tree until handlers and hunters approach to shoot or tranquilize the bobcat.
Training dogs to hunt bobcats requires dogs to have excellent off-leash obedience to commands, the ability to locate scent and follow a trail, and an interest in chasing bobcats. Hunting bobcats requires stamina, physical agility, and courage, and only dogs with aptitude for the job can be suitably trained to be successful. Breeds developed to hunt predators, predominantly hound breeds, are generally used for this type of hunting. Young dogs are often started learning to scent and trail cats, however only mature dogs are suitable for participating in predator hunts, including bobcats, as there is a risk to the dog from predators who may choose to fight back if cornered or desperate, and an inexperienced dog could be put in danger.
Dogs being used to track bobcats usually are fitted with tracking collars, and/or collars with bells to help you locate your dog when they are tracking bobcat out of sight. A significant investment of time will be required in locating bobcat scents and trails as these are very rare animals, adept at hiding, and tend to avoid areas that are easily accessible to hunters. Bobcat scent can be purchased commercially to use for training your dog to track bobcats and the use of feral barn cats in cages is a common part of the training process to motivate dogs to get excited about tracking and treeing bobcats.