Tuesday, January 9, 2018

To Train Or Not To Train?

The subject of 'How to' train a tracking dog has as many variables as there are people and dogs. But training may do more to create a bond that motivates the dog to please you and ultimately help you find your deer, more than actually 'teach' the dog how to track. Why? Because well breed natural hunters like Catahoula and Blue Lacy, will hunt for food if they are hungry and... we are inferior trackers compared to dogs, in that we desperately need their help after 24 hours or more, after it rains, if there is no blood because the deer is bleeding internally, or worse: if the deer crossed water! All four scenarios most likely will stop us in our tracks, cause us to waste a lot of time, and walk around in circles hoping we luck out and stumble across the deer, and we will be lucky to actually find the deer anytime soon.Unless we have a dog!

It has been an interesting week, starting with Albert calling me about ‘problems’ he was having training a Blue Lacy to track. The Blue Lacy is a cur and is closely related to the Catahoula as breeds go. The Blue Lacy is the state dog of Texas, just like the Catahoula is the state dog of Louisiana. 

The 2 photos below are compliments of Roy Hindes
 The 2 photos above and below is Roy Hinds (in the black hat) with an awesome Blue Lacy
Here is a link to John's website about Roy and his Blue Lacy tracking dogs:

Albert told me that his dog was starting to run or 'hunt‘ rabbits when in training. I asked “What is the dog’s experience with tracking deer?” And the man told me that he never tracked a wounded deer with the dog, but had only “trained” it.  I then asked how old and he told me 1 ½ years old. I advised him to start ‘working’ the dog on real natural ‘deer made’ blood trails and stop ‘training’ the dog.

 It is hunting season, he wants to hunt, so take the dog hunting!  

This one phone call got me to thinking about the emphasis hunters, trainers and trackers put on training with man-made blood trails and I began to see that training is everything in most people’s mind. Much like someone wanting to buy a finished dog because in their mind experience is everything and many people shopping for a tracking dog and having no experience to base their purchase on and are guessing a finished dog is the best way to go.

Both presumptions are wrong!

 When I started studying the blood trail dog as a business, about 10 years ago, it was obvious that too many people were over-complicating the training process by focusing on tarsal gland or interdigital gland training. And the result of that has been several people calling me this year to get 'another' dog because their dog was trained specifically to track bucks only using the tarsal and

The tarsal gland is a furry bump on the heels of the back legs of a buck

or interdigital gland method and now it will only track bucks. Duhhhh!

 I recall all the blood trail dog propaganda years ago being presented by a local blood trail dog association about a dog knowing if a deer was mortally wounded OR NOT by the smell of the interdigital gland which is located between a deer’s toes. . Here is the theory: If a deer is mortally wounded, it gives off a different scent through the interdigital gland, than one that is not mortally wounded. And… an experienced and well trained dogs knows it.

And if a dog knows it is not mortally wounded, IT WON'T TRACK?

 OK, how can you ‘prove’ that theory? Ask the dog? Of course we can’t get a verbal confirmation of that so we must base that judgement upon the dog’s body language and performance.

So here is my observation: A professional tracker and his dog was 0 for 4 at a local hunting club that was located near the tracker. Four times in a row he was called in the first month of archery season here in Louisiana to track a deer and the dog couldn’t find it. A member of the club later called me looking to buy a tracking dog for their hunting club because they were not calling the ‘other’ tracker anymore due to a lack of performance.

In short, the professional tracker excused his dog for ‘not tracking’ due to the dog knowing it was not a mortal wound due to the interdigital gland 'theory'.

Well on two occasions of the four, the next day after the tracker came out, the deer hunters went out to the blood trail at the crack of dawn and looked for the deer and found it without a dog. One of the deer was about 60 yards from where the dog stopped tracking, and the other was about 100 yards away from the point of last blood. And on the latter, the dog wound not track at all. He just ran around and played with the hunters.

 Now folks this is a dog that had found many a deer in his day and had been tracking for many years successfully. OK, well bred, well trained, and well experienced, so why wouldn’t the dog hunt?

Above is Rob Miller and his dachshund Sypris who has found several hundred recoveries in Michigan and Ohio

Based upon my personal experience, my best guess is that the dog was over fed. Always remember the common sense wisdom of the old timers: “Hungry dogs hunt!” Also, consider that the tracker was a member of an association at the time that was hung up on the interdigital gland theory and was using that to make unwarranted excuses for the dog.

My guess is the dog was so over fed on a regular basis that he perhaps wouldn’t hunt on a regular basis and it is not the dogs fault! Proper handling while actually tracking may be more important than early training because if the dog is a genetically predisposed 'natural', they may not need to be trained to the degree that most people believe.

And I believe the diet factors are more critical than the training and I feed my dogs raw beef when it is not deer season as you can see below.

I also like to supplement that with road kill as often as possible, as you can see below.

I am not opposed to using man made tracks to train puppies but the real blood trail dog training occurs during deer season unless you have does that need to be culled during the off season and have doe tags to that effect.

Starting in 2018, I will be moving into a 13,000 acre high fence trophy ranch and training my pups on culled does in the off season and eradicating the wild hog population on the ranch.

I am Marcus de la Houssaye and I breed and train Louisiana Catahoulas.

I can be reached at 337 298 2630 if you are interested in buying a puppy or started dog or have questions about training one.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Buying and Handling Finished Tracking Dogs and 30 Years of Breeding 7 Generations

Often times, I don't hear about my dogs after I sell them, but I make every effort to communicate with people and make sure everything is going smooth after a sale because that can be a big adjustment for a finished dog who has been with me and his family for years and literally ALL of his or her life, and it helps the dog and the new owner to bond and adjust, if I can explain what is happening to the new owner and be there to train the new owner to properly handle and 'be trained' to the dog.

Think about it, if you are buying a trained started or finished dog,
 shouldn't you 'be trained' to the dog, so you can at least know the verbal commands?

There are no rules carved in stone when it comes to dog training methods, and there shouldn't be  because breeds vary and individual dogs vary within the breeds.

Remember, somebody else trained that dog, and unless you know the breed, 'how it was trained', and the dogs peculiarities, you cannot get the same level of performance out of the dog as I did, because you don't know how it was trained, and are not 'working within' the the dogs training program and natural abilities, and then doing your part as a team player to keep advancing the track.  

Tracking wounded deer and hunting wild hogs with cur dogs are dangerous activities and because the dogs natural abilities of well bred dogs are so high performance, you need to as much as possible encourage and motivate your dog and 'allow' them to do their job. 

And... sometimes tracking is a process of elimination, and that means you need to trust the dog and not interfere with the dogs natural movement and processes.

 And ideally except in rare instances that means working the dog off leash.

I just got some photos of one of my finished dogs who went out early in the season to Kansas as a blood tracking dog. Photos above and below.

Below is a photo of his father Little Bob

                                               Little Bob is a son of Jesse who is below

Jesse is a son of Angel and Bobalou

Angel above, a daughter of Patch and Ruby

Bobalou is below

And Bobalou is a son of Frank below.

I have been breeding Catahoulas for over 30 years
and working them in a variety of functions along the way.


Blood Trail Dogs For Sale out of Choco and Priest born Oct 22

Choco is a great grand daughter of Diamond Cutter on her daddy's side and a grand daughter of C Arrow Patch and Ruby on the bottom, so hold onto your hats because these these babies are gonna roll!

We have a double glass eyed grey patch/blue leopard female in the 3 photos below.

The blue eyed, blue leopard male is in the background of the photo above.

We have 2 solid blacks, also in a male and female

The black female has the white tipped toes.

Above is Choco nursing her babies...

If you are interested in a blood tracking dog, by this time next year, these cuties will work for you.

I am Marcus de la Houssaye and I can be reached at 337 298 2630 for more information.