One of the most common topics of discussion when it comes to hound hunting is how to get your dog to handle. By “handle” I mean getting your dog to reliably return to you even when it’s far away and out of sight. This is a very simple concept to teach in the off-season, and it pays off big-time when it’s time for actual hunting.
Being able to get your dog to come back to you on command is important for several reasons. First, if you think your dog is heading toward a busy road, you can recall it to get it out of danger. Second, with hunting parcels frequently getting smaller and smaller, being able to call a dog back off a property where it’s not supposed to be is very important. And lastly, think about the time, frustration and energy you can save by not having to go looking for your dog in the dark when it’s time for the hunt to end.
I use the SportDOG Brand® HoundHunter® 3225 to train my dogs. The first thing I do with pups is get them used to wearing the collar during yard training. During this time, I’m teaching them to come back to my voice commands. Once they’re responding well to my voice and they’ve gotten used to wearing the collar, I start adding tone to the voice commands. Eventually they’ll come back to my voice, the tone alone, or a combination of the two. This will become super valuable later when we get to the woods.
An important thing to remember is that when you get a young hound out in the woods, at some point it’s going to test you. Maybe it’s running junk like deer and doesn’t want to respond to your commands to come back. Or maybe it gets onto private property and wants to explore all the different smells near a bunch of houses. You might find that in these cases your dog, who was so responsive during yard training, decides to ignore your voice and/or tone command. That’s where the long range of the 3225 is worth its weight in gold, because you have the option to deliver a stout correction to shows that dog that it’s never out of your control.
How much correction is needed to get things back in control can vary. Early on, medium-level stimulation might be all that’s needed. But some headstrong dogs need the upper levels of correction to get the message. It won’t take long for you to figure out how much pressure you need to apply.
I always run my dogs with the SD-3225 even if I have a tracking system on them. You always have to be prepared for circumstances beyond your control. In a worst-case scenario, for example, if I can’t hear my dog and I’ve lost the location signal, I can still get up on a ridge where I can walk in the direction of my dog’s last known whereabouts and listen for its barking.
Once I’ve got a fix on where my dog is, or at least where I think it might be, I can use my voice and the tone feature to get it back to me. And, as always, if I find out my dog decided to go off on its own and is ignoring me, it only takes a reminder from the 3225 to bring the situation back under control.