UKC Forum Member
Registered: Jul 2019
Lucky got some one on one time this evening. I had a cage coon from the other day. I took it down to the edge of the field here at the farm. I always use a drag cloth attached to the cage. I typically take a cup of water and wet the drag cloth and use the rest of the water to wet down the coon(help with scent?). On a pup as young as Lucky, I try to lay down as much scent as possible. I want the puppy to have a successful/fun/rewarding exposure. So I try to make sure that I start out really easy with these drags. I make short, straight drags that are overflowing with scent and then I end the drags on BIG trees where the puppy won’t have any trouble getting and staying up on the tree. I carried the coon to where I wanted to start the drag, approx 10 yds from an ideal tree. I tie the drag cloth to the back end of the cage. I tie a rope to hang the coon from the tree to the front end of the cage. I wet the drag cloth, dump remainder of water on coon. Then I take my coon scent and liberally apply to the drag cloth and even squirt a little on the coon. Next I start the drag and about halfway to the tree I apply some more scent to the drag cloth. When I get to the tree I throw the rope over a limb and start lifting the coon. As I lift the coon I make sure and rub the drag cloth all over the tree. I even squirt a little scent straight into the tree also. I normally try to get the coon hanging from a branch that is high enough that the pup cannot see the coon and especially where they cannot reach the cage when they tear up on the tree or if they jump up beside the tree. I do all of this while the puppy is still kenneled at the house. Once the coon is tied off and hanging in the cage from the tree, I quickly get back to the kennel and pick up the puppy and immediately head back for the drag trail. Early on in the training, I will keep the pup on a lead until I am very close to the start of the trail. Sometimes I will walk the puppy right on top of the trail. I am watching closely as I do this for the puppy to show me that he smells the scent and is interested. If I turn him loose and he hasn’t found the trail yet, what if he turns and goes the other way and checks out some cows...now I have to round him back up...all the while the trail getting harder and harder(older, colder) for pup to smell. Like I mentioned earlier, I try to make sure the pup is successful and has fun and gets rewarded. So yes, I walk them right on top of the trail if I have to. When I know I am close I start talking to the pup saying “look for him Lucky, find a coon, look for him”. When I see the pup has found the scent I turn them loose.
Tonight I turned Lucky loose and he trailed for a few feet, drift off to the left, obviously loosing the trail, circled back and went perpendicularly across the trail, passing it again and didn’t really check up. He then found it again and darted forward past the tree into the woods. He funneled around in the woods just for a few seconds, came back out, smelled around where I had walked to tie rope off to another tree....finally came back and found the trail again, end t thru the same type of regimen again, getting off course and floundering around a little, circled back one more time, found trail again, followed it really close to tree, circled around tree.....
So, at this point I realize the pup isn’t going to smell up the tree and therefore sniff out the coon...so I walk over and untie rope from neighboring tree, drop coon down long enough for Lucky to see it, then pull it right back up into tree. Luckys attention is now all about how to get up to coon. He jumps, stands on back feet, jumps, whines, rears up on tree, whines, sits down on rear end and finally lets out a bark...I praise him “god job Lucky, good dog” while letting him a bit. I back off he barks a few more times...I praise him more, same type of deal, pet/praise, belly rub, etc. He decides he is gonna figure out how to get up to coon and goes they same routine again....me knowing that I don’t want him to loose interest...I drop down coon again for less than 5 seconds, Lucky acknowledges and barks at coon a few times and boom, I pull coon back up into tree. Lucky ‘tree barks’ several more times and when coon safely tied off again, I slip over and really shower Lucky with praise and pet him up good. I rub on the tree and do everything I can to try to let Lucky know I am part of his ‘pack’.
This all happens in less than 10 minutes. I always, always try to let it last no longer than 10 minutes. I try to take puppy away while they are still excited and interested. I praise Lucky all the way to the kennel and give him his favorite treat and a bowl full of food and put him up. I don’t know if it matters or not, but I try to be very careful from time leaving the con until time Lucky is out in pen and left alone- I try to be careful not to do any type of training/correction/etc- it is my belief that if I do one of those things, Lucky will be focused more on that, and I want him to remain focused on what he did right, at the tree, working the track, barking at the coon, etc.
After Lucky was back in his pen I went down and turned coon loose. It turns in to a fairly time consuming training session when it is all said and done and done properly- well properly in my mind. There are probably parts or maybe all of this that some people will disagree with. Some will probably agree with let’s or all of it also. This method has worked for me n the past. Might not be the best way, but it works for my situation.
I like to try to have someone help me when I do this routine. I prefer to be right beside the dog, petting and praising as they are barking at coon and have someone else letting the coon up and down(if needed). lucky will get to where he will tree on this without having to let up and or down. I have a short video if anyone is interested in seeing it, just shoot me a text.
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