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Wild hogs or boar are a major problem all over the US and especially in southern states. Because they are not native to North America, there are few natural predators. These unwelcome interlopers destroy crops, property, and sometimes livestock as they are voracious omnivores. The only way to currently control the wild hog population and reduce environmental damage is to hunt hogs. This is often done with dogs, as it is difficult for hunters to go where hogs are located in thick underbrush and dogs can efficiently locate, chase, and then hold hogs in one place until hunters can arrive to dispatch them.
There are two jobs a dog can perform when hunting a hog. This may be locating and chasing them which is performed by a bay dog, and holding them in one location, sometimes by force until hunters can arrive, which is the job of the catch dog. Some dogs perform both of these tasks. While Dobermans have not been used as hunting dogs, they have a strong prey drive and are strong, fast, and agile.
Bay dogs are released where wild boar are present and it is their job to locate the hogs, either by tracking their scent or by sight, and chase the hog unti it tires. Catch dogs are then released to incapacitate the hog and keeping the hog in one location, until hunters can come shoot the hog, or live capture it to be used for meat. Because bay dogs chase and tire the hog, they need to have excellent scenting skills to detect hog scent and locate the hog, as well as stamina and speed to chase the hog.
Catch dogs need to be brave and aggressive with prey. Sometimes, the same dog is suited for both tasks. Dobermans are good at scenting and tracking and are fast and agile, so they can make good bay dogs. If your dog is going to be a catch dog, he will need protective equipment to keep him safe from the hogs which have teeth and tusks and can be dangerous when cornered.
When training your Doberman to hunt hogs, you will want to first familiarize him with smaller pigs. Hog hunting dogs also need to be familiar with transport, such as trucks with kennels that are used to transport dogs to hunting sites, ATVs used by hunters, or horses which are also sometimes used to carry hunters quickly over rough terrain. Your Doberman will also need to be used to the sound of gunfire, so that he is not startled by them. Catch dogs need protective equipment to protect them from injury. Paw boots, vests, and neck and tail protectors are used to ensure that hogs do not get a hold of and injure dogs. All equipment should be well fitted to the individual dog.
The Train to Chase Method
Set up pigs
Set up a pen and put one or two pigs that are about the same size as your Doberman in the pen. You can use tame pigs for this.
Expose your dog
Bring your young dog to the pig pen and encourage your dog to get excited about the pig. Encourage prey drive, praise barking, lunging and aggression. Make sure to stop the session before your dog loses interest and have an experienced trainer on hand for the safety of the pigs if you intend to keep them safe.
Find pig in wild
Take the pig in a crate or tie the pig up in a field location. Drive your Doberman to that location and let him find the pig. This teaches the dog that driving is followed by locating a pig. Keep your dog on a leash to protect the tame pig.
Set scent trails
Set a scent trail with the pig, leading the pig around the wooded area to set a track. Wear rubber boots so the dog learns to follow the pig scent and not yours.
Follow trails in wild
Drive to the location where the track has been set. Let your dog find the pig scent and encourage him to follow it. You may want to keep your dog on leash or let him find and track the pig trail with other experienced dogs. When your dog locates the pig at the end of the trail, praise your dog for locating the pig. Make sure tame pigs are not injured in the process.
The Train to Catch Method
You will need a mature, large, stout Doberman to act as a catch dog. Dogs that have been trained as chase dogs may graduate to catch dogs if they show aptitude for this. Prepare your Doberman by practicing having him wear the protective equipment he will need when catching hogs.
Introduce a pig
Present a small pig in a cage or pen to your Doberman. Work up your dog, getting him excited about the pig. Encourage barking, lunging and aggression. Make sure the tame pig is adequately protected. Repeat daily for a few weeks.
Teach release command
Teach your Doberman to play tug of war with a rag or rope. Give him the command to release and provide a treat or food item as a reward for letting go of the rope. You will use this release command later when your catch dog has a hog so your dog will release the hog and back off. This will allow hunters to capture or take a shot at the hog.
Take out with chase dogs
Take your trainee catch dog out with chase dogs who have located a hog. Let the chase dogs run the hog while your catch dog is held back. Do not allow your dog to interfere with the chase dogs.
Let hunt with other catch dogs
Release your Doberman with experienced catch dogs when the hog has stopped running. Your Doberman will learn from the other catch dogs how to go after the hog. Ask your dog to release the hog and ensure your Doberman is in control before dispatching it.
The Work as a Team Method
Introduce your Doberman to a pack of experienced baying or catch dogs prior to hunting. Make sure your dog is familiar and comfortable with the other dogs.
Practice using equipment
Fit your dog with a tracking collar and the protective equipment he will need when hunting. Ensure that everything fits appropriately and is comfortable.
Expose to chase team
Allow your Doberman to follow the hog trail with the chase team. Keep a close eye on any potential conflict between the dogs that may erupt.
Practice recall and direction commands while your Doberman is hunting with other dogs. Use responses of the other dogs to set expectations and responses from your dog to properly assess how well he is advancing.
Practice. After several hog chasing or catching experiences, your dog will learn how to scent and chase a hog. If your dog is also learning to be a catch dog, he will learn how best to approach a cornered hog from experienced catch dogs.
By Laurie Haggart
Published: 05/25/2018, edited: 01/08/2021