Saturday, January 30, 2010

Experience Versus Genetics

Most of the people who call me for blood dogs are wanting an experienced dog or what we call a finished dog. And, I understand their need.

But as anyone who has researched the purchase options for good blood dogs knows, a finished blood dog is rare to find.

Why? Because there appears to be very few people who are approaching this market demand for blood dogs as a business the way I am.

Most people who already have a good blood dog will give that dog a home for as long as it lives.

I plan to change that notion that blood dogs are hard to find, based upon offering started dogs that are well bred and well started as puppies.

More important than experience, in my opinion is good breeding or more specifically, good genetics.

I have a hog dog motto: "The experience starts with the right genetics."

Many people who are new to Catahoulas, fail to understand the versatility of this working breed. When I say versatile, I am referrring to the history of Catahoulas, working on family homesteads who lived off the land and used Catahoulas to provide fresh meat year round, and security. Also, working cattle ranchs from hundreds of years ago to the present have depended upon the breed to get the job done.

In the old days, a dog that did not work for it's keep, did not survive to reproduce. Hence, Catahoulas evolved into the ultimate working dog breed.

These dogs had to be fast, intelligent, cooperative and gentle with children and domestic livestock, but also gritty enough to survive wild hogs, alligators, rattle snakes and then as a team with cowboys on horseback, pen wild cattle.

Usually at about 4-5 years old a Catahoula will catch hogs and cattle on command and as a blood dog they are often found catching and stopping wounded deer that try to get up and run.

These genetic predispostions in the Catahoulas breed, make them the ultimate blood dog.

I am not only preserving these old working bloodlines, as I raise them as pups, I am working them in a variety of functions to evaluate each individual dogs abilities and personality.

If a dog is too gritty to be a hog dog, because it might get killed, I prefer to send them out as a cow dog. Cows are a lot bigger and harder to stop and catch than are hogs.

If a dog is not gritty enough to be a cow dog or hog dog they are more suitable as a blood dog or pet.

And no matter where or how you plan to use a Catahoula, contrary to most people's belief about spoiling a dog, I advise you to love 'em up and spoil them rotten, because if a Catahoula loves you, they will do their best to figuire out what pleases you and do very their best to earn your approval and affection through service to you.

The most important thing that many people fail to grasp about about owning, training, and handling working dogs of any breed or function is the importance of a mutual relationship between the dog and you.

And the quality of that relationship is fully dependent upon the human side of the equation to reach the dog and open up trust and affection and thus a desire for the dog to serve and please it's master.

This relationship factor is in the genetic pack instincts of the Catahoula that goes back to the Red Wolf.

Incidentally, Catahoulas are descended from bulldog, greyhound, and red wolf.

I am available for consultation if you would like to discuss this issue further you can contact me by phone at 337 298 2630.

I am Marcus de la Houssaye

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Deer Season Comes To An End

Leading a group of six month old pups down a fresh blood trail on their first training exercise.

As deer hunting season comes to an end, I am getting a lot of calls from people realizing that they want an experienced blood trail dog ready for next year.

Also got several calls from hunters who have Blood Hounds and are considering a Catahoula because the Blood Hounds are too big to handle in the brush. I prefer a smaller dog for blood trailing because they are not as demanding at feeding time(year round) and are easy to load on an ATV or mule.

One of the most important things that people who use blood trail dogs must consider in handling a trailing dog is the dogs diet. And on that note, I recommend feeding raw meat as much as possible, because it is a canines natural diet and helps the dog develop an appetite for the treat that awaits them at the trails end.

Here is a tip many people don't seem to understand about handling a blood trail dog during hunting season: always restrict the dogs diet slightly during hunting season to increase the dogs motivation and interest in finding the meat at the end of the trail, and never feed a dog the day before you hunt.

Also; remember to advise everyone in the camp NOT to feed the dog the day you hunt.

I have heard repeated complaints about dogs that did not seem to be interested in trailing and later they found out someone felt sorry for the dog and fed it when no one was looking.

One more thing: always allow the dog to hang around while the game is being skinned out, and especially reward him throughout the process of dressing out the deer with verbal praise and pieces of organ meat and bones to chew on.

Good idea to invite him to the bar-b-que too, and continue to heap the praise and head rubbing to reward them for being the hero who made the feast possible!

Periodically throughout the summer, it is a good idea to refresh your dogs interest in trailing by laying out a new trail in a different area or new direction than the last exercise you worked them on.

Always have some kind of treat, canned dog food, or sliced liver and at the very least use dry dog food at trails end.

If you would like to talk to me about buying or training a dog you already own, call me at 337 298 2630