What’s the Best Method to Train a Coonhound Not to Chase Wildlife?

Coonhounds are an exceptional breed of hunting dogs, renowned for their incredible scenting, tracking, and hunting abilities. However, their innate hunting instincts, particularly their prey drive, can sometimes lead to unwanted chasing behavior. A Coonhound’s inclination to chase wildlife can pose challenges for you as a dog owner. Their tendency to chase can be both dangerous for the dog and potentially harmful to wildlife. Here, we focus on the best methods to train your Coonhound not to chase wildlife, ensuring the safety of both your dog and the local fauna.

Understanding the Coonhound’s Innate Drive

Before we delve into the training methods, it’s essential to understand the inherent traits that make Coonhounds chase. Coonhounds, like many other hunting breeds, have a high prey drive. This attribute is a natural instinct that motivates dogs to pursue and capture prey.

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Prey drive is not a sign of aggression; instead, it’s a survival instinct that has been intentionally developed in hunting breeds over generations. In Coonhounds, this instinct is particularly strong given their history as hunting dogs, and their natural inclination to use their exceptional scenting abilities to track down prey.

Yet, as a responsible dog owner, it’s necessary to manage this drive effectively, especially in non-hunting scenarios. Understanding their prey drive will immensely help you while training your Coonhound, enabling you to channel this drive in a more controlled and beneficial way.

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Training Methods to Redirect the Chasing Behavior

Now that we’ve understood why Coonhounds chase, let’s explore the ways to train them not to chase wildlife. Effective training methods include redirection, teaching recall, and impulse control.

  1. Redirection: The idea behind redirection is to divert your dog’s attention away from the wildlife they’re inclined to chase. This can be done using their favorite toy or treat. Over time, your hound will associate seeing wildlife with receiving a reward, thus reducing their inclination to chase.

  2. Teaching Recall: Recall training is teaching your dog to come back to you when called. This is a crucial step in training your Coonhound, as it allows you to have control over your dog, even from a distance.

  3. Impulse Control: Impulse control training is teaching your dog to resist their natural urges. In the case of Coonhounds, this means teaching them to resist the urge to chase after wildlife. This can be achieved by teaching commands like ‘leave it’ or ‘stay’.

Using Leash Training to Curb Chasing

Leash training is a crucial aspect of training your Coonhound not to chase wildlife. Having your dog on a leash when they’re in environments with wildlife can prevent them from giving in to their instinct to chase.

Start by taking your Coonhound on leashed walks in areas with low wildlife presence. Over time, gradually increase the amount of wildlife they’re exposed to during their walks. If your dog starts showing signs of wanting to chase, use the leash to redirect their attention back to you.

Keep in mind, though, that leash training should not be used as a long-term solution for your Coonhound’s chasing behavior. It should be used in conjunction with the other training methods discussed to teach your Coonhound not to chase wildlife.

The Role of Professional Training and AKC Events

While you can certainly train your Coonhound not to chase wildlife on your own, professional help can be a beneficial resource, especially if you’re new to dog training. Professional trainers have a wealth of knowledge and experience in handling and training hunting breeds, and they can provide tailored training plans for your Coonhound’s specific needs.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) also hosts events and programs aimed at hunting breeds. These events not only provide a platform for your Coonhound to channel their hunting instincts in a controlled environment but also offer opportunities for you to learn from experts in training hunting dogs.

Remember, while it may seem challenging at first, with patience, time, and consistent training, your Coonhound can be successfully trained not to chase wildlife. Don’t be disheartened if progress seems slow at first. Every dog learns at their own pace, and what matters most is your commitment and consistency in training.

Importance of Consistency and Positive Reinforcement in Training

When it comes to training your Coonhound not to chase wildlife, two key elements must be at the heart of your approach: consistency and positive reinforcement. Both these aspects are vital in shaping your dog’s behavior in a positive and effective way.

Consistency in training is crucial as it maintains a clear line of communication between you and your dog. Your dog will learn to understand what behavior is expected of them when you are consistent with your commands and responses. For instance, if you are teaching your dog the ‘leave it’ command, it’s essential that you use the same phrase each time you want them to resist their prey drive.

On the other hand, positive reinforcement involves rewarding your dog’s good behavior. This can be in the form of treats, praise, or a favorite toy. When your dog associates positive experiences with not chasing wildlife, they’re more likely to repeat the desired behavior.

For example, if your Coonhound successfully resists the urge to chase a squirrel during a walk, immediately praising them or giving them a treat will reinforce this positive behavior. Over time, your dog will connect not chasing with receiving a reward, making them less likely to give in to their prey drive.

Dealing with Potential Challenges in Training

Training a Coonhound not to chase wildlife is not without challenges. Given their historical role as hunting dogs, their prey drive is deeply ingrained. Coonhounds might demonstrate stubbornness or selective listening, especially when presented with possible prey. However, these challenges can be overcome with patience and persistence.

During the training process, it’s important to remember not to resort to punishment when your Coonhound doesn’t respond as desired. Negative reinforcement can lead to fear, anxiety, or a strained relationship between you and your dog. Instead, focus on rewarding good behavior and remain patient when progress seems slow.

In some cases, particularly with rescues or older dogs, past experiences may make training more difficult. For such dogs, it might be beneficial to seek professional help from a dog trainer experienced in dealing with hunting breeds. They can provide insight and techniques tailored to your dog’s specific needs and temperaments.


In conclusion, training a Coonhound not to chase wildlife is a challenging yet rewarding process. It requires a deep understanding of the breed’s inherent prey drive, consistent training methods, and a lot of patience. Leash training, redirection, recall, and impulse control, reinforced with positive experiences, can effectively curb your Coonhound’s chasing behavior.

Professional training programs and events like those organized by the American Kennel Club can also be valuable resources for enhancing your training methods and understanding of your Coonhound’s needs.

Remember, the goal should not be to suppress your Coonhound’s natural instincts but to manage them in a way that ensures both their safety and the safety of your local wildlife. With dedication and consistency, your Coonhound can be a well-mannered pet, capable of resisting their inherent drive to chase after wildlife.

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