May 2018 Hounds & Hunting Sneak Peek

The Puppy Trainer and the Houdini Rabbit

By David Sylvester Bagaley

The puppy trainer cared not whether the young pup worked in front or behind its mentor. A good puppy trainer needs to be independent, nearly to a fault. Young hounds, highly impressionable for sure, being left to their work, should be excited with the familiar scent of the rabbit. The scent of a cottontail or hare triggers an innate response from any well-bred hound. It’s all in the breeding, as they say. Can you believe the scent (track) is left in a continuous sequence; not necessarily linear, if you know what I mean?  
Allowing a young hound to “sneak” the line, looking for a sight chase is a “no-no.” A sight chase may be beneficial when getting a pup started but it is detrimental to any chase once the hound realizes its purpose. The distance between tracks is determined by the speed of travel forced upon the cottontail or hare by its pursuer. Spooking a rabbit from a well-hidden spot is not beneficial by any means. Witnessing a rabbit carefully taking leave of his coveted place of rest is most interesting. The initial loss should force the hound to diligently work out the line of scent on the so-called “check.” Naturally, starting close to the point of loss and carefully sweeping out for scent is most efficient. You know the adage about a coin being dropped in the lawn and how we search to recover our loss…. In time a puppy will take direction – heading toward subsequent pods of scent. Many young pups need a good trainer to follow their early progress, discouraging any attempt to backtrack. Backtracking is a temptation but proper direction on the line is absolutely essential and easily mastered. Learning to listen and understand the consistent tonging, barking, proper mouth, provided by the experienced tracker is a wonderful experience for all involved. This, of course, is where the human trainer begins to smile. Following a young hound — found on the line between sire and dam — is as exciting as it can get. Breeding is everything. REMEMBER: Maintaining continuous contact with the “line” of rabbit scent is the name of the game for a good hound. AKA: LINE CONTROL.

Don’t miss the rest of this article starting on page 24 of our May issue.

Author: Lisa Diehl

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