Training a young bobcat and or lion hound to trail the desired scent can be a wonderful time to get to know your best friend better, and the experience will really enhance your future enjoyment in the field.
Over the past thirty plus years I have trained or attempted to train dozens of young hounds. I have had many frustrations but the success stories made it all worth while. I guess you would say I went to the dogs early in my life and it has never been a hobby to me rather an actual way of life.
Before I go into my method of scent training I really need to emphasize the fact that not all strains of hound or crosses are cut out to be cat dogs. Even some very wonderful coon and bear bred dogs may never have that competitive desire to become what most cat hunters call CATMINDED dogs. So to make the journey easier on yourself you should select your prospect if possible out of the best proven strains of cat dogs you can find. Dogs that have proven over generations that they have what it takes to get the fur in the tree. Some will get lucky and find a flash in the pan now and then but it is much better to do your homework before you embark on this time consuming endeavor.
That being said let’s say you have a fine young prospect in hand. You have done your basic ground work with the young dog teaching him his name. To come when called to load in your vehicle, and things of that nature. Dragging a wild unhandled young dog out to the training field is a good way to set yourself up for failure. I can’t emphasize handling too much in cat dogs. Spend time with your dogs in non-hunting situations where you interact with them and become the true pack leader that you should be.
Now then your dog is handling well, and seems to have an active interest in putting its nose on the ground and investigating new smells. This is natural for a hound but early training games can help develop this behavior. Starting very young with a hot dog drug along the ground on a very short run he will be thrilled with his first successful trail adventure and enjoy his snack. After this it moves on to harder tasks, and even the simple game of hide and seek where you hide from him and he has to trail you up can be a very good exercise. Don’t I repeat don’t make it too hard in the beginning. Remember that just like young people, puppies attention spans are very limited.
Once you have played the games and are having some good success stories with it allow the young dog time to grow up a bit and enjoy being a puppy. I don’t get too serious about scent training until the pup has reached 6 months of age or in some cases with a larger slower maturing strain I may wait several more months. As you observe the growth of the puppy you can also observe their behavioral changes and when they are physically and mentally ready for more challenges, then move ahead.