Funny, Affectionate, Adaptable
Hound dogs make wonderful companions for those who are ready for their antics. They seem to be in their own world and to a degree they are! Hound parents need to be willing to step into the world as a hound sees it and be ready to go with the flow. Hounds are not serious creatures and should not be taken seriously. I mean look at their ears!
Often overlooked at our local shelters, hounds can seem a dime a dozen, but their personalities are truly one of a kind. People tend to pass them over thinking they are loud, stubborn, and smelly. (Yes, people actually tell me these things) Meet a few and I guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised.
If you have fallen for a hound at your local shelter. Here are a few traits that I see consistently in the hounds I work with.
Hounds live in their own world
Let me take a minute to explain how your hound came to be. For centuries these dogs were bred to sniff stuff and find stuff. Track whatever the hunter was looking for on that given day. Fox, rabbit, raccoon, deer, boar, or anything else you can think of that lives in the woods. So that is exactly what they are going to do. They are going to sniff everything. Everything you can imagine, and then more.
A dogs nose is so much more powerful than ours. I use the analogy that we walk into a friends house and smell a cake baking, your hound walks in and smells all the ingredients in the cake, your friends perfume and the flavor of soap in the bathroom. And that’s in the first 30 seconds. This can lead to a dog who can be quickly overwhelmed if new environments are not taken slowly and carefully. Give your newly adopted hound dog plenty of opportunity to sniff the new places you are going to frequent. Sniffing is hard work, let them do it at their own pace.
You have to have a sense of humor.
Hounds will do things you never thought possible. They are problem solvers and sometimes their problem is their intelligence. I often tell people if they had a dumb hound I wouldn’t be in their house. (Its not entirely true but it drives the point home) Jumping on the table, opening gates, burying toys for later, finding the cookies you hid from your husband (that’s just in my house?). All things that your hound might do. Its best not to let it get to you. If these are things you would like to avoid, be prepared with a bit more management than you might think you need. Be prepared to change the management when your hound figures it out.
All the food belongs to a hound.
Again with the management. If you leave the food unattended, the food belongs to the hound. If you do not want the food to belong to the hound, then make sure the hound cannot access the food. The oven and microwave are safe storage places for the food that does not belong to the hound.
Often, hunting dogs are housed together in a kennel so there can be some competing for resources. People report that their hound eats faster when they are close by or will growl if they steal something off the counter. Growling is a totally normal dog behavior, and should not be punished. Instead contact your favorite trainer who is knowledgeable about modern training methods, and they can help you get that under control. Usually this is the only real behavior challenge I see consistently in hounds. Thankfully, with a little consistency and training this is fairly easy to change.
Hounds are Easy to Train
Remember that thing about all the food belonging to a hound? Lucky for us, that makes motivating them quite easy. They are also very motivated by their nose, which some people see as stubborn. Hounds have to sniff stuff, so often they forget you are talking because they found a thing to smell. That doesn’t mean they are blowing you off or are dumb, it just means they need to sniff. When you walk into a crowded room, you take a minute to get your bearings before proceeding. Hounds need to take a sniff before they can listen. The more you practice, the less sniffing you will get. And that is a tip for any dog, not just a hound.
Now that you know what to expect, go adopt a hound dog! They will fill your life with an exuberance for the little things that you will not find anywhere else. Give them time to sniff, manage their access to the foods, and you will have a companion for life. You will wonder why you ever lived without a good hound dog!