Training Pups and Hounds The Caincutter Way!



I am sure we all have our own ideas about how to train hounds to run bunnies. There is the right way, the wrong way and then there is my way. Some of us have it all figured out while others are wondering what it takes to train a well bred pup and turn it into a productive hard hunting hound. Many fine pups are born with the natural abilities needed to become the super hound that we all long for, but they too need direction, discipline and yes training.

How well I remember my time in “Boot Camp”. It was a demanding time in my life. The TI had us up early every morning and worked us hard all day, everyday. I remember someone said that they would do in a few weeks what our parents had not done in 18 years. They would make us into men. The discipline that I learned and the training I received served as the foundation for my carrier and have stayed with me throughout my life. Our hounds need lots of basic training when they are pups and even more when they are ready to start their life as rabbit runners.


While reading with my eight year old grand-daughter I learned a few facts, a little history and was reminded of some good common since rules to follow when training young pups.  Her copy of “The First Book of Arf” points out that there are now over 50 million dogs in the United States.  Most of these serve mankind as friend and companion.

The friendship of man and dog goes back more than 12,000 years to the Stone Age.  The men of that time haunted animals using rocks and spears made from stone.  Wolf packs often followed the hunters looking for scraps of meat.

Over a long period of time some of these wolves were tamed. The first wild-animal tamers might have been the children of the cave men. Perhaps they found a furry little wolf puppy and brought it home as a pet.

The dog was trained to be helpful in many ways. He learned to use his sharp sense of hearing and his keen sense of smell to guide the hunter.

Many years of change have given us today’s hunters.




Arf's Training Tips:

1. Train your dog in a quite place.

2. Keep lessons short.

3. Be patient. Be kind.

4. Use your dog’s name to get his attention before each command.

5. Teach one command at a time.

6. Keep commands simple.

7. Use a pleasant tone of voice.

8. Never hit your dog because he does not follow a command.

9. When commands are followed, pet your dog and say, “Good Dog!”

              "Play with your dog after the lesson".


Find your way to each of the following training areas to learn how it is done at Paw Paws Kennels:

You may  page down to any of the following training areas that may intrest you, however the information will flow a bit better if you read them in the order listed below.  There are other effective ways to train pups and hounds, but the following has worked welll for me. 


Getting Puppies Started

Starting Pups on Bunnies

Solo Runs

Running with the Pack

E-Collar Training

Trash Breaking

Snake Avoidance Training


 Getting Puppies Started !


Puppies bring new life and excitement to a kennel. They arrive as needy little creatures that depend on their mom for food, warmth and care. Their first few weeks are spent nursing, sleeping and growing. When they reach six weeks of age, they are ready to leave mom and start to learn their trade. At this early age their brain activity has developed and they are able to respond to your voice, learn basic commands and to start to socialize with people. The right amount of interaction at the right time is very important for pups to transition from mom’s care to your care. They will quickly learn to depend on you, trust you and establish a bond. 

Any pups that are to be placed with new owners should be moved to their new homes at the end of their seventh week. This is the most ideal time to make this move. The pups are both physically and mentally ready for this change. They can begin to learn, develop and establish a lifetime relationship with the new owner.


 Training During Weeks 8 thru 12

If everything is going as planned, pups have learned a little about their new surroundings and are now ready to begin training to become man’s best friend and hunting companion.

This may very well be the greatest learning stage of their life.  What they learn or fail to learn during this time will determine their future as a hunting hound. Their little brains are like little sponges that will soak up everything that you share with them. While it is hard to teach old dogs new things the opposite is true of pups. Pups are curious creatures that are alive with energy and enthusiasm. They are eager to learn.


 Give that Pup a Name

The first thing every pup needs is a good name. I like short snappy names that I can call out in a clear, loud voice. Keep in mind that when you pick a name for your pup, they will be stuck with that name. They will need to hear their name before every command.

Once a puppy has learned their name and the sound of your voice they are then ready to learn a few basic commands. The two commands that I find most beneficial are “Here and Down”. Many dog handlers will use the command “Come” for “Here”. I like “Here”. Either will work, however, you must choose a word and stick with it.



Many pups will learn this command quickly. When you start working with a young pup, always remember the simple rules of Arf. Quite place, short lessons, be patient, use the pup’s name, teach one simple command at a time. These basic rules should be followed for each command taught. One problem that I often have when training pups is that I always have too many pups to train.

When I buy a puppy and only have one pup to train, I give that pup my full attention. They seem to learn fast and develop a close bond with me. These pups come into my kennel as the new kid on the block, with no other youngsters to compete with.

When I have a litter of pups, I sell a few and keep several to train. This year two litters were born at Paw Paw’s Kennels. After all sales and trades were done, I ended up with four pups to train. The months ahead will be busy as I work with these trainees. I will have to take care to spend time with each pup and make sure they each get lots of opportunity to learn.


Individual Training

When teaching the Here Command or any other command, I work with each puppy, one-on-one. I take a puppy from the kennel and put them on a retractable leash. This gives the puppy an opportunity to learn about being on a leash and going for a walk. The retractable leash puts some resistance on the pup, but not the close control of a standard leash. When the puppy reaches the end of the leash, I stop, squat and call. I say the pups name followed by the command, “Here”. Example: “Dolly, Here.” At first, I may have to give the command more than once and I may have to give a tug on the leash to get the pup to respond. As the puppy comes to me the leash will retract. When the puppy reaches me, I pet them and praise them. A treat can be used as a reward, but I like to use petting as the primary reward. If you give out tasty treats, the puppy may never want to leave you.

We continue our walk and repeat the “Here Command” a number of times. This first time out, we keep training fun, short and only work on one command. Pups can’t stay interested for long. It is better to have two short training secessions each day than to push past the pup’s interest threshold. After several secessions the pup will be responding well to the “Here Command” and will be ready to move to the next important command.

While this is a basic command and one that is easy to teach to a puppy, it may very well be the most important lesson they will ever learn. When a young hound learns to come when called, they have learned to trust you. This trust will allow you to control and direct your new hunting friend in the field.



Once the puppy is responding well to the “Here Command” it is then time for them to learn the “Down Command”. This command will most often be used in combination with the “Here Command”. Many times you will want your hound to come to you and then want them to sit or lay down. When they are down they are very much under your control. Once you have taught them to get down when at your feet, you should then work on getting them to drop down where they are when ever they hear their name and the “Down Command”. There will be times when you want them to stop where they are and wait for you to come to them. If they are on a hot track, it will be easer to get them to stop and drop on the track than it would be to get them to leave the track to come to you. Like all commands, the “Down Command” is always preceded with the dog’s name. Example: “Dolly Down”. The first time your pup hears this command they will be at your feet. Get their attention by calling their name and when saying the command “Down” while firmly pushing the pup to the ground. As they go down, roll them over on their back. When the pup is down and on their back, you should pet them and praise them and rub their tummy. Most pups will love this attention. Warning, if you are giving this training to an older male hound you may find he may get so excited that he tries to spray you in the face.

Several secessions should be devoted to getting the pup to go down at your feet before you try to get him down at some distance. He should soon be getting down without being pushed. When he routinely responds well to the “Here” and “Down” command he should be ready to be downed at a distance.


Down at a Distance

Your goal is now to get your young trainee to stop and drop at a distance. At this point in the training process I move to my enclosed training pen and remove the leash. The enclosed area helps to keep the young trainee from wondering off and keeps any neighborhood dogs from moving in and distracting our training efforts. Start with a short distance. The first time you ask your pup to go down at a distance, he may only be a few feet from you. With the pup several feet away, look at him and say in a loud clear voice his name. When he looks at you, bend towards the ground and give a hand motion towards the ground all as you give the command “Down”. If the pup goes down, move to him and give lots of praise. If he stops but fails to drop, then move in and push him down. When he is down, give lots of praise. When they get the idea and start to drop upon command, then you should give lots of praise and stop all training for the day. You may want to give them a treat, but keep the treats few and far between. Treats should always be unpredictable. Pups in training should never be able to guess when a treat is coming. Back to the basics, keep training short and only teach one command at a time.

During your next secession, you will want to run thru a quick review of previous lessons and then work on short distance downs. If the pup performs well then you can try to down the pup at greater distances. Remember, when the pup drops down, go to them and pour on the praise. If they stop but do not go down, then you need to go to them and firmly push them down then give praise and a belly rub. If you are not getting the desired results, shorten the distance and try again. If it is not working, go back to something they can do. You may have them do several “Here Commands”. Praise them and then stop training and let them play. Never punish your pup. Lack of praise when they do not do well is about the most punishment they should receive.

Your pup loves you and wants to please you. Very soon they will learn and understand your commands. After as many training sessions as it takes they will hang on your every word and gladly obey your every command.

You should continue to train and retrain them until you are able to down them at great distances.  My goal is to be able to stop them at 100 feet or more.  If they can hear me and see me I want them to drop and stay put when they hear their name and the command “Down”.   Some hounds may want to step out of line when in the woods with other hounds.  This is when the training pays off.  The basic obedience training they have received in a controlled area has let them learn what is expected when a command is given.  If a hound chooses to ignore a command while hunting they then become a candidate for a little E-Collar education.  That type training will be covered later on this site.

I consider these two basic commands (Here and Down) the most important that a productive rabbit hound will ever learn.  Most pups will learn these commands at an early age.  Some may take longer than others.  All need to learn and respond to commands before they are ready to spend any time in the open woods.

From week eight to week twelve you will spend lots of short training periods with your pup. While you are teaching them basic obedience, they will learn to trust you and to depend on you .

  They will know that you are the “Big Dog” and their job is to please you.

I consider these two basic commands (Here and Down) the most important that a  pup will ever learn. 



Starting Pups on Bunnies !


The very first time a young pup opens on the trail of a bunny is always a special moment. This first encounter may be a short site chase in a training pen or may be a bark or two when the sent of a bunny is crossed in the wild. In either case the results will be a big smile on your face and a proud moment in your life.


Tame Bunny Runs:

Tame rabbits in small training enclosures can provide pups with their first chase. I have often introduced pups as young as seven weeks old to a tame bunny. Most will give chase and some will open. Unlike other training this training may include several pups at the same time. Two or more young pups yelping after a bunny can be a fun site to behold. Tame rabbits may provide a good little run for very young pups. I keep the number of tame bunny chases to a minimum. For the most part these are sight chases and these pups need to learn to use there noses.

If this training is postponed until the pups are nine or ten weeks old, most tame bunnies will not be able to out run the pups. Pups will catch and put the bite on the tame bunny.


Cuddles was a fine little bunny that  helped to train a pup or two. She could hold her own when the pups are young.

Turn Up The Volume and, 

Click below for a short puppy/Cuddles run: 



Trapped Wild Bunnies:

When pups are around four months old they are too fast and furious for a tame bunny. They are ready to take a close look at a bunny from out of the wild.


One of the ways that I introduce my pups to wild rabbits is to trap a rabbit for the pups to make close contact with. Before you start trapping bunnies, you may want to make sure it is legal in your area. While you may be allowed to trap and move wild rabbits out of your garden or crops, some states may have laws that forbid trapping on public lands. 


A trapped bunny allows the pups to get up close to see and smell the critter that they will spend the next few years trying to catch.

I catch most rabbits using sliced apples as bait. I have tried other vegetables such as carrots, but always return to apples.  If you set traps, be sure to check them often. If a rabbit is forced to spend too much time in a trap, they will beat themselves up trying to escape. If a dog or cat finds your trapped rabbit, they will attack the trap and kill the bunny in the trap. How they can get at the bunny is a mystery, but they can and will.

The sight and smell of a rabbit will excite young pups. In full cry they will bay at the bunny while attacking the trap.



If the bunny survives the savage attacks of the pups it can then be released and allowed to run for its life. At best your pups will get to join in on a short sight chase. The release should take place in a large open area. You may want to hold the pups to allow the bunny a head start. If the pups and bunny are released at the same time, there is a good chance that they will catch the rabbit before it gets far. If the bunny is in good condition and is allowed to get his running gear working, a short and exciting race should transpire. A small pack of pups in full cry will put a grin on your face. They will sound ever so good for as long as it last.


These out of the trap runs are normally very fast and very short. Most pups will stop as soon as they lose site of the rabbit. Some may run right back to the trap to see if it is there. A few pups may take this process to the next level and use their noses to stay after the prey. If this should happen, your grin will change to laughing and shouts of joy. Don’t start the jubilation dance just yet, most sight chases after a bunny released from a trap will not result in a fully trained rabbit runner. This is just one of many steps towards that goal.

Tame rabbits and trapped wild rabbits have proven to be a good way to introduce my pups to the sight and smell of bunnies. This activity is best done as a group, but if you only have one pup to train, you can apply the same steps to train your solo trainee.

One word of caution, “DO NOT OVERDO SIGHT CHASES”. You want your pups to learn to use their nose to find those old smelly rabbits. This lesson is best learned solo. The next important step in the training process is to show each individual pup lots of bunnies. This is where the real training begins.

Go find your best light. It will soon be dark and you will want to take a pup out for an adventure in the dark.  




    Solo Runs

Night-Time Solo Runs !!    


First we will start with Night Runs…. Night time is the right time to start pups on bunnies in the wild. All the previous training efforts were all just to get your young hound ready for their first solo run. At night you, your light and your pup will find more bunnies out and about. The abundance of night time rabbits along with the damp moist air should give our young trainee lots of opportunity to smell, trail, jump and run Mr. Bunny.

Advantages of Solo Runs:

1: Running solo teaches our young hounds independence.

2: One hound is easier to control and direct in the dark.

3: While our hounds can see well enough to follow their nose in the dark, they may not see or be distracted by a bird, butterfly or leaf at night, floating in the wind.

4: Best reason, rabbits are out and easier to locate.


How It Is Done ?       

Just after dark, I take my head light, spot light and a puppy and go looking for a bunny. I keep the pup on a short lease as we explore the grass patches and lanes looking for a rabbit to run. When we have the good fortune to find a long eared, fur bearing, flat footed varmint it is time to play.

I walk the pup over the location where the bunny was feeding and hope for some action. If all goes well you will get some reaction. It could be just a little excited waging and smelling around or maybe more. I release the pup and encourage it to hunt. This young trainee may trail after the bunny for a short distance then return or maybe more. They may whimper, whine and open on their first bunny in the wild.

Chances are the first few times out with a young (five or six month old) pup they may not respond. This means that you will need to keep taking them until they get the idea. Some pups will need to go many times before the lights come on and they get started as a rabbit running hound.

Finally the day will come. You will shine a bunny and your pup will get busy. The first time a pup trails up and opens on a bunny will be a moment to remember. There can only be one first time. Chances are you will grow a big smile all over your face.

The very first time a puppy opens and runs a bunny may only result in a short run with just a few barks. This short run and the sound of your pup’s voice will keep you bragging for days.

Yooooa yooooa yooowa……..

After a few more nights out your pup’s ability to jump and run bunnies should improve. Soon that rabbit running pup will be able to jump, run and push a bunny for more than a few minutes.

When your young trainee progresses and can keep a bunny up and moving for five minutes or more it will be time to join in the race. With a little luck and lots of clear trails in your training area you should be able to get ahead of the pup. You need to stop the pup and pick it up while still in hot pursuit. Give that fine rabbit running pup lots of praise. Leash the pup and then go look for the next night time bunny. On a good night you may be able to find two or more rabbits for your pup to run.

After several very short races you will want to pick up the pup and call it a night. The object is to never let the pup experience a loose and to stop while the pup is all excited and wanting more. If this is done right, the next time you go back to take the pup out to look for bunnies this young upstart will be rearing to go.

After however many nights that it takes your pup will take a bunny for a long run and you will just set back and enjoy the sound of your hound. After several long runs you will celebrate your pup’s first time to circle a bunny. You are sure to laugh out loud, dance a jig and sing out, “Yaber Daber Daber Do” “Hot Digity Dog” or some such sound of jubilation.



Soloing for Day-Time Bunnies: 

After a number of productive night time runs, your pup will be ready for the challenge of a day time run.

Daytime runs will present a whole other list of challenges and adventures. Finding daytime bunnies will be your first challenge. Up to this point you have been placing your pup on top of the bunnies and letting them go for a run. They may have trailed up some bunnies but most you found with your light. You have for the most part seen and knew your pup was after a bunny.

Daytime bunnies will be much harder to locate. You may want to try early mornings or late afternoons and take your pup to areas that are known to have a good number of bunnies.



How It Is Done ?

Daytime runs should be a lot like going hunting. The pup should be allowed to run unleashed and be encouraged to hunt for a bunny to run. Get your brier chaps on and wade on in.

If all goes well, your pup will strike a track, trail the bunny and take them for a run. This may not happen, the first time out, so keep taking them until they get good at locating and running bunnies solo.

In addition to learning to run bunnies, this is a great time and opportunity to review those basic commands learned as a pup. Use their name and give them the “Here” and “Down” commands to maintain control.

Some hunters may like a hound that ranges at some distance. I like my hounds to hunt close, with me and for me. Keep the pup hunting and working the cover and brush close to you. This way you will be able to evaluate their performance and should they strike a track, you will be close to the action.

By this time your pup is seven or eight months old and may weight 15 to 20 pounds. They are old enough and big enough to strap on an E-Collar. If your pup is starting daytime solo runs they are ready to learn about E-Collars. When a pup is young, you do not want to over do it, but should they come across a deer or refuse to follow a command, the collar will be a great help. I will cover my take on the use of E-Collars in great detail later on this site.

The more you can take your young trainee on solo runs the more they will learn. It is a sure bet pups will not learn anything about chasing bunnies while in their kennel.

Scheduling time for outings especially when there are several pups to train, finding enough daytime bunnies, dealing with extreme heat in the spring and summer, avoiding snakes and staying motivated are just some of the other challenges that I have faced when trying to provide solo training to a group of upstarts.

This solo training and individual attention will prepare your young hound to do their part when running with the pack. 











Running With The Pack

Running with the pack is and always has been the ultimate goal. After many weeks of getting ready the pup should now be up for a run with the big dogs.

Some hound owners may say that you should put your pup with some older and slower hounds, but not me. I start them with the same pack they will someday join. Some young hounds may stand back and watch the action while others hit the ground running. We all hope for the ready to pack and run pup.

To keep your pup sharp and able to work a track on their own, you should continue solo runs in addition to running with the pack. For every one (1) Pack Run, I recommend four (4) Solo Runs. This gives your young hound opportunity to learn independence and how to honor and work with the pack.

When these first runs with the pack are during hunting season, your pup may just get to hear the sound of a gun

The first time ....

  they hear a shot fired it is good that they are some distance from the gun and that they are in full cry with the pack.

Most young hounds will not have any reaction to the gun. Some may shy away and need some conditioning to the sound of gun fire.

While this is a grand plan, I must admit I always have problems keeping this schedule. Pups that are born before June will normally be ready to run with the pack before the end of rabbit season. Those born latter in the summer will not. This presents my problem. No place to run.

When rabbit hunting season closes the end of February, we then have turkey season for March and April. (No Dogs Allowed to Run During Turkey Season) When May finally gets here it is as hot as blazes here in South Mississippi. You may be able to slip in a few night-time or early morning runs, but not many.

Pups that are born during late summer may not get to join into many runs with the pack until next years season when they are over a year old. This may or may not be a bad thing. I had one young female born in late Sept. She was soloing by the end of February. She had lots of time during the months to come to learn her trade before joining the pack the following fall. At just over a year old she was running like a pro.

Pumpkin Loves to Run the Front of the Pack.


While this plan for running young hounds, with the pack is my target for success, you may have to deviate from the plan to meet the situation at hand.


There is no better sound than six or more yellow hounds charging after one bunny.

I love to see hounds that can work together like a team. Every hound, all packed up tight, and running in full cry.

Every young hound must learn to trail and jump every bunny they can, but they must also learn to honor and join other members of the pack when a bunny is up and running.

When a race is in progress all hounds should be putting the heat on that one bunny. They should work every loose together and stay after the bunny all the way to the gun.

Any hounds, young or old that leave the pack to trail or run on their own must be pulled in to run with the team. Even when they have a bunny up and running, I will stop a solo runner and put them back with the pack. I like for all hounds and hunters to focus on one bunny at a time. Keeping the pack together allows me to maintain control and keep track of my little hunting buddies.

At the conclusion of every race, (bunny bagged, lost or treed) I look around and account for all members of the pack.

We then move off in a direction of my choice in pursuit of the next bunny. When a well trained pack of hounds hunt like one dog, you get the desired speed, drive and ability with lots more cry and excitement.

At the end of each days hunt your little hunting buddies will be with you when you return to your truck.






 E-Collar Training: 

These are the tools of the trade 

E-Collars are without a doubt the best thing since sliced bread.

E-Collars have been around for a number of years.  Bird hunters have been using them to train and control pointers and sitters for as long as this old man can remember.  E-Collars have been refined and improved over the years and have now become very popular with most beagle owners.

While most of us obtain E-Collars to break our little hunting buddies from running trash, we soon learn that these collars can and will do much more than stop a deer chase.  Any hound wearing an E-Collar is a hound on a long leash.  Just as you can get the attention of a hound attached to a six foot leash you can also demand and get a desired response at a great distance from hounds fitted with an E-Collar.  

$$$   E-Collars are not Cheep    $$$

Like everything else these days, to get a good set of collars you will have to turn loose of some bucks.  You may need to have a yard sale or get a second job this summer.  What ever it takes they will be worth it! 

There are several excellent E-Collars to choose from.  You can buy units that have from one to six collars and come with all kinds of neat and useful features.  New units will come with warranties and some refurbished collars may even have a limited guarantee.

A good place to explore many of the major brands is the Collar Clinic.


At the top of their list, you will find the reliable and highly recommended Tri-Tronics collars.

Then come’s my personal favorite, the Dogtra Collars.

While the Collar Clinic is just one of many sources for E-Collars, this is a good place to start your research.  You may choose to buy from some other provider or direct from the factory.  You may elect to buy new or refurbished collars.  You may even get a great deal buying a set of used collars from some hunting buddy that has decided to give up his hounds and take up golf.

What ever you decide, here is few words of advice to consider:

1.  Buy the best you can afford. (Remember, money can’t buy you love, but it can get you some fine E-Collars.)

2.  If you think you only need one collar, buy two.

3.  If you think you need two collars, buy four.

4.  Buy collars that have warranties and available repair service.

5.  Buy collars with rechargeable batteries that can be replaced by you when needed.

6.  Spend lots of money on your wife, just before you order your New E-Collars.

Using E-Collars:

I wish I had all the answers to share about how and when to use E-Collars to manage our little hunting buddies.  The truth is this is something that you must learn by doing.  With a little practice I have been able to learn how to use these collars to keep my hounds in line and move them through the woods with ease. 

 Here are a few commonsense rules that I try to follow:

1.  Always make sure that the collar is properly fitted onto each hound.  Not too tight, but not to loose either.  The unit with the prongs should be under the dog’s neck with the prongs firmly against the dog’s skin. 


2.  Great pains should be taken to make sure the collar is secure and will not come off. 

3.  You may want to use tie straps to secure the E-Collar to the dogs other collar.  I use push snaps and large O-Rings to make it nearly impossible for the collar to come off.  It will really ruin your day for your hound to show up minus a $200 collar.  Now I must admit that it does take a little extra effort to get the collars on and off, but I think is worth that effort.

4.  The first time you use the E-Collar on a hound, you may want to have them in an enclosed training pen.  You never know how they may react, and you do not want them to take off to parts unknown with your new collar.

5.  Young hounds should have had lots of yard training before they are ever introduced to an E-Collar.  This way they will know what they should do when and if they get bumped for not responding to a command.

6.  Always start off with the lowest power and work your way up the scale until you get the desired results.  Some hounds are very sensitive and will not need much of a shock to do your biding.  Others will take a little more of the E-Power before they decide to line up.  My Dogtra Collars has a scale of 1 to 8 and most of my hounds respond well to a 1 or 2 and then it is just a bump.  I never hold it down, unless they are doing something very bad. (Running trash or about to enter a busy road).

7.  You may want to use a dummy collar to get your hounds use to wearing it while in their pen.  I never have used a dummy collar.  I put the E-Collars on my hounds as I take them from their kennels.  Once I start a hound using an E-Collar, they wear it every time they hit the woods.  Most will continue to wear the E-Collar for two or more years.  When I consider them to be trash proof and easy to handle, then and only then are they allowed to hunt with out the collar.

8.  I got my first E-Collars, primarily to keep my hounds from running trash but have found that they serve a much greater purpose.  I use this fabulous tool to keep my hounds hunting with me and for me.  And when the day is over all dogs are there ready to load up.



 Trash Breaking !


 One man’s game is another man’s trash.


Large herds of deer can be found throughout the piney woods and swamps of South Mississippi.  Most southern states have an over abundance of deer.  If you are a deer hunter, news that the deer population is on the rise must be a good thing.  However, for us rabbit hunters a large number of deer presents a special challenge.  Keeping our little rabbit hunting hounds from chasing after deer and other off game, is paramount to good order and discipline.

The running of deer, fox, bobcats, squirrels, rats, cats and elephants can disrupt a good rabbit hunt.

In days gone by, I had more than my share of trash runners in my pack.  I called these hounds, “Combo Hounds” because they like to run rabbits but also like to chase after deer and other off-game.  

Back then I tried everything to break my little hounds from running trash.  I would try to run them down and give them a reason not to run trash.  It is next to impossible to catch a hound that is running flat out after a deer.  If you are able to catch your hound, and then introduce them to a little discipline, it is always after they have been running the deer for miles.  They most likely do not have any idea why they have been chased down and thrashed.  Some hounds may stop hunting for the remainder of that day, or at the very least they may not run another deer on this day.  Most of these hounds were soon culled out of my pack.  Over the years I have given away more than my share of hard hunting hounds because they were determined to be trash runners.

I used sponges, soaked in deer sent, attached to the dogs collars.  I soaked the sponges and carpet hung over the dog house doors.  This was based on the “Too Much Cake” theory.  It is believed that if you had to eat a whole cake, then you may never want any more cake.  Supporters of this idea seem to think that if a hound is forced to smell lots and lots of deer sent, then they will not want to follow that sent in the woods.  That may work on some hounds, but it had no effect on my little deer chasers.

Some hounds are born rabbit chasers.  For what ever reason, they have no interest in running any other critter.  I have been privileged to have a few of these, rabbit only dogs.


1992 Six Pack

It took my friend, neighbor and rabbit hunter mentor, (Jon Humble) many years of hard culling to come up with this line of grade hounds.  The last of these “rabbit’s only” hounds died 2005 at 14 years old.  These hard hunting hounds were naturally straight on rabbits.

While some hounds never ever run trash, this is not the norm.  Most hot nosed hounds will run any fresh sent they cross.  To keep our little hunting buddies on bunnies and off all other game we must introduce them to the ever so popular E-Collars.


There may be more than one way to break hounds from running deer and other off game, but the best solution that I have found is the E-Collar.

My First Experience Using and E-Collar to Trash-break a Hound.
I am sure that most serious rabbit hunters don’t need to be reminded just how important E-Collars are when it comes to training and controlling our little hounds in the woods.  When you strap an Electronic Collar on a dog, it is like having an arm that can reach out and touch or smack that hound at a very long distance. 
 (For the details about how I use and depend on E-Collars, check the “E-Collar Training” section above.)

               The number one dog on my A-Team was named Peaches.  


  Without the E-Collar she would most likely be someone else’s deer dog.  She ran her first deer at 10 months.  The truth is she led the race and took two older dogs with her.  She spent the remainder of the season wearing an E-Collar.  It was close to the end of the season, and she did not have any other opportunities to chase deer.

The next October, just prior to opening day, we were out for a little training and Peaches got her first taste of that long arm.  A deer got up and was identified and reported by a hunting buddy over a FRS Radio.  I was very sure that Peaches was on the track.  She opened right where the deer had been and she sounded more explosive than normal.  She was in full cry and running at top speed.  I let her go for about 100 yards and then hit her with half power.  I consider Peaches to be a sensitive dog, so I did not use full power.  When she stopped, I let off the transmitter.  There was another dog running ahead of her.  Moments later she started up again.  This time I hit her with full force.  Her bark turned into a scream.  I held it down for a few seconds longer.  I wanted this to be a bad experience.  When I let up, I started to her and she was on her way to me.

This all sounds a bit harsh, but the lesson she learned that day earned her a lifetime membership in Paw Paw’s kennels, where I provide her with the best of everything.  Later that season, she opened on a scent that my old dog Liberty, did not seem to notice.  Liberty is one of those special little hounds that has never chased a deer and never will.  As Peaches picked up the volume and started to take off, I looked down and saw fresh deer tracks.  I was sure she was about to make a mistake. I touched her with the lowest setting on the transmitter. She immediately stopped and turned away from the track.  I called to her and she came running. Peaches had to wear the E-Collar for the next year, but I never had to use it.  We hunted right over the top of many deer and she always stood her ground or continued to trail after a rabbit.  On one occasion, I did see her let out several barks while running backwards.  After a 30 foot run in reverse, she made a big circle to avoid what ever it was that was burning her nose.  Peaches soon graduated from the collar and was trash proof for the remainder of her years.


         Trash Proof Hounds, Like My Peaches Are Worth Their

                              Weight In Gold….

While Peaches was very easy to break, some hounds will require more E-Collar correction than others.  I have always found that breaking males is harder than females.

 I have one fine little male named Cowboy who was very fond of running deer and did not want to give it up.  He was out of a July litter and did not get started soloing bunnies until the end of hunting season when he was seven months old.  This solo time was in an area with very few deer.  He continued to solo and run some brace that spring.  By the time season opened in October, he was 15 months old, had circled a number of bunnies solo and was ready to run with the pack.

Like most Satsuma hounds Cowboy was an eager, hard hunting little hound.  The first time he came across a hot deer sent, he exploded.  I knew he was running trash, from the sound of his aggressive chop mouth and the straight line he was running. When my older, “Trash Proof Hounds” all came to me, I was then absolutely certain that Cowboy was after a deer.

It was time to give him a taste of the E-Collar.  I hit him with half power and held it down for a long 5 seconds or more.  His full cry changed to a yelp and then to silence.  I called to him.  He did not come but opened again.  I was close enough to him to know that he had advanced up the trail some 100 feet of so after the deer.  When he was back in full cry and hot pursuit, I turned the transmitter up to full power and stopped the race.  I held it down until the unit reset itself after 10 or 12 seconds.  Cowboy was screaming for the duration of this correction.  I called to him and then hit him again.  I repeated this until he was at my feet.

You would think that after all this that Cowboy would never want to run another deer.  That was not the case.  He did not run anymore that day, but the very next time I took him hunting he had to be stopped from running deer.  It took most of his first full season to break him off of deer.  After that first season, he continued to wear an E-Collar, but never once considered running a deer.  By the end of his third season, I declared him to be a “Trash Proof Hound” and allowed him to hunt with out an E-Collar.  He, like my other older hounds help me to know when a pup in training is running trash.  They come to me with their tails down, waiting for me to punish the trash runner.  I call the hounds that report in to me   “Tell Dogs”, because they confirm that a deer is up.


Helpful Trash Breaking Hints:

* 1. Learn all you can about your E-Collars.  Know what they will do and how to use them.  Do not over do it, but do not hesitate to use full power when needed.

* 2. Know your hounds and how they react when deer are in the area.  It is always best to train young hounds with a pack of trash proof hounds.

* 3.  I never run my hounds, young or old with trash running combo dogs that run whatever they come across.  If you have one or maybe two young hounds that need to be trained, you can keep your full attention on them and depend on the older hounds to let you know if the pups are after trash.

* 4. Break you hounds while they are young.  I find it best to get it done during their first full season.

* 5. You may elect to put your hound in the truck and ride around looking for a deer to cross the road.  I never do this.  I always do all my trash breaking while in the woods hunting.  This takes a little more effort, because you may not be sure they are running trash.  If I am not sure, I shock them.  Most of the time, I am sure.  Maybe I saw or someone I am hunting with saw the deer.  We use radios to communicate while hunting.  The radios are a big help.  If the young hound jumps and takes off in full cry and no other hound joins in then it may be trash.  If the hound is leaving out in a straight line then it may be trash.  If my “Tell Dogs” all report in with their tails down and looking a little concerned, then I know without a doubt it is trash.  It is time to drop the hammer.

* 6. Keep E-Collars on your young trainee for as long as it takes to ensure they are “Trash-Proof”.  Some will take longer than others.  Some may never gain your confidence and graduate to be a certified “Trash-Proof Hound”.


Trash-Proof hounds are a pleasure to hunt with.  All you have to do is break them young, never hunt with trashy hounds and show them lots of bunnies to run.

These hounds are proud members of my "Trash Proff Pack":





 Snake Avoidance Training

Snakes are found throughout most of the United States.  Some are poisonous while many are not.  Snakes like most earthly creatures, have a part to play in the great scheme of things.

Snakes eat rats, mice and some eat other snakes.  They, like most animals, eat to survive.  They attack, kill and eat small animals.  When given the opportunity snakes will back away from larger animals that they come in contact with.  While you or your hound may get away with disturbing a non-poisonous snake you will not fair so well if you try to corner, catch or kill a poisonous snake.


There is only one rule when it comes to snakes:
Avoid Snakes and teach your hounds to do the same.

I first learned of snake avoidance training from the Beagles Unlimited site.  That site has been inactive for some time, but I just checked the site and was glad to find that it is back.  It seems to be under new management, has a new format and  stores a lot of excellent training and health information.  Check out that site and then see how I have applied that information to my situation.

Hounds that avoid the sight, sound and smell of snakes will live to hunt another day.

I have been providing my hounds with “Snake Avoidance Training” for the past several years.  This training seems to be paying off.  I have not had any trained hounds to receive a snake bite.

In years past, I had more than my fair share of fine hounds lost to snake bites.  How, was I to know that a little training could have saved my little hunting buddies from an early demise?

Here in the Deep South, snakes are on the move for about ten months out of the year.  This means that we can expect to encounter old Mr. No-Shoulders during off season training and much of hunting season.  We normally do not see a heavy frost and freezing temperatures until the first week of December.  This means that snakes are a concern for much of the time we spend in the woods.

Catch a Snake
Catching a non-poisonous snake to use in the training of your hounds may be the hardest part of the training process.  Most of us do not like snakes and are not real crazy about going out and picking one up.

First you must know enough about snakes to distinguish between those that are poison and those that are not.  You should never ever attempt to catch a rattler or other poisonous snake unless you are a professional snake wrangler.

I normally do most of my Snake Avoidance Training in early spring.  This is when I have found it easier to locate and catch a snake.  The snakes will spend time during the first few warm days of spring, stretched out in the sun.  I look for a nice fat, five foot snake.  I like to use Garter Snakes, Rat Snakes, Corn Snakes or King Snakes.

Now you may walk right up on one of these snakes, step on their tail and reach down with a gloved hand and pick it up.  Being the coward that I am, I like to catch them using a Cajun Snake Snare.  This nifty snake catcher, consist of a six foot length of ½ inch PVC and about 15 feet of weed eater cord.  You just double the cord and run the two ends into one end of the PVC pipe and out the other.  This leaves a loop out one end.  (I like to put a washer or ring over the loop to keep it from pulling through.)  The two ends can be fastened to the pipe with a band or small bungee cord.

Catching A Snake
The snake catcher is very easy to use.   I walk up to the snake, step on its tail and then drop the loop over the snake’s head.  I pull the loop tight and the snake is caught.  If you plan to use the snake latter or need to store it for a day or so, then you will need a five-gallon bucket with a lid.  I recommend that if the bucket has a bail you should remove the bail before attempting to put the snake in the bucket.  If you do not, the snake will wrap the bail and you will have a hard time getting it in the bucket.  Put a little wet grass in with the snake and put the lid on the bucket.  Store the snake in a cool and shady spot.

Avoidance Training.
Now that you are in possession of a training snake you are ready to start the training.

I conduct Snake Avoidance Training inside my (100 by 200 ft) training pen.  This keeps the hound confined and easy to control.  While I use my training pen, you may use a fenced in back yard.   This training may be accomplished in an open area, but I prefer to keep my young hounds enclosed.

I use the PVC snake catcher to move the snake from the bucket and to stake it out in one corner of the pen.  Open the bucket with care.  The snake may be subdued and allow you to put the loop around them and remove them from the bucket or they may jump out and take off.  If they do try to escape, you will need to step on their tail and get the loop on them.


Sight and Smell
When placing the snake in the pen, I slide the loop down the snakes body a foot or more.  This allows the snake to get its head up and sway back and forth.  This action will help to get the hounds attention.  I pull the loop down tight and use a band or bungee cord to secure the ends of the weed eater line to the PVC pipe.  This keeps the snake from working loose.  I place the snake, attached to the catcher in one corner of the training pen.  If the snake is big and able to move off with the catcher, I place a brick or log on the PVC snake catcher.

I bring my hound wearing an E-Collar into the far end of the pen.

Young hounds that are receiving Snake Avoidance Training for the very first time will normally run right to the snake to investigate the strong smell and movement of the snake.  When the hound shows interest and is close enough to see and smell the snake it is time to nail them hard with the E-Collar.  If I know a hound is very sensitive I may only hit them with half power but most will receive a short burst of full power.  The pain they experience may very well prevent them from a nasty snake bite and could even save their life.

Turn the volume up and click below to hear the sound of correction!!!!

After your hound has received punishment for showing interest in the snake, you will need to call to them and walk them to the far end of the pen and away from the snake.

After a short time, you can move back towards the area where the snake is staked out.  If your hound returns to the snake, unleash the full wrath of the E-Collar on that hound.  Most young hounds will not go back for a second taste, but if they do you will have to light them up.  Most young trainees will choose to stay in the far corner away from the snake.

Most young hounds only need to receive this training once. However, I do provide this training once each year.  Most of my older hounds that have previously received this training have no desire to approach a snake.  When they see or smell the snake they retreat to the far end of the pen.

The sound of a rattle snake can make the hair stand up on the back of your neck.  That sound can be heard at a great distance and alerts you of danger.  Your survival instincts tell you to move away from the sound and do it fast.  It would be good that your hounds could also recognize the danger associated with the sound of a rattler.

You can find lots of rattle snake sounds on the internet.  The big challenge is recording that sound onto a cassette or CD.  Here is one site that comes up when you run a search on “snake sounds”.

If you are able to record the sound of a rattler you can then use that recording to teach your hound to stir clear of the sound of a rattler.  I use a portable CD player with a remote control to introduce the sound of a rattler to my hounds.  I hide the recorder in the training pen.  When the hound gets near the recorder, I use the remote to turn on the CD.  If the hound shows any interest in the sound, I give them a jolt from the E-Collar.  

Any hound that fails to run away from the sound is given another high power shock.

Most hounds will have smelled and may have seen the snake long before it decides to rattle so if they recognize the sound of a rattler as a treat this is just a little insurance that they will avoid snakes.