The Joys (and Struggles) of Raising a Bloodhound

The Joys (and Struggles) of Raising a Bloodhound

The following is an excerpt from "The Complete Guide to Bloodhounds" by Kevin Stueber. For more information visit the books Amazon Page.

Author Credit: Kevin Stueber

Staying Strong and Dedicated to Your Goals

You’ve already overcome some of the biggest hurdles in starting off with your Bloodhound so give yourself a pat on the back. You made a responsible decision on where to get your pup and have set up your house and family members for success. And while you deserve major kudos for getting this far, the fun has only just begun. Now that you’ve made it through the first night, and hopefully survived without waking up to a warm and wet surprise like I did, it’s time to start molding and training your pup into the loyal and obedient dog they will grow to be.

This chapter will focus on a lot of the typical baby Bloodhound behaviors and will provide some tips and tricks on how to curb them before they get out of control. Remember, your hound is going to grow by leaps and bounds, and if some of these behaviors are left unchecked, they could turn into big problems that will be harder to rein in later on. The best advice is to stay strong, stay consistent, and don’t let their adorable faces fool you. Even when young, Bloodhounds are already learning how to manipulate their owners and developing their hardheadedness. By staying positive and maintaining focus, you will be able to raise a hound that is a pleasure to be around for your family and your guests.

Crate Training

I’ve already talked about it a couple times before, but I’m going to again stress the importance of crate training your Bloodhound. At first, I was a huge opponent of crate training. I felt that a dog shouldn’t be confined in a cage and thought that I could train him well enough to be trusted outside of his crate when unattended. After multiple chewed up couch cushions, a slew of pee stains on the carpet, and more than a few nights awoken by strange sounds and bangs coming from somewhere in the house, I have changed my tune on how important crate training is. As stated above, the crate gives your dog a safe place to call their own. It allows you to create a routine by giving the dog a cue of when they should calm down or go to bed. It will eventually get to the point where your Bloodhound will go to their crate on their own to take a nap or hang out if they are stressed. The crate can also save your furniture and carpets from unwanted pee stains and assist in potty training. At times it will seem easy to throw your hound in their crate as a punishment, but really you want to avoid this so as not to ruin the perception the dog has of the crate. You want it to remain a happy and inviting place for them so it can continue to be a huge asset in their training.

Bloodhound with man
Photo Courtesy – April Conklin

When looking for crates, look for one that is going to be big enough for your hound. They could stand as high as 27 inches when fully grown, so make sure it’s big enough to accommodate them as they grow. I use a crate that is made of wire on all sides with a plastic pan in the bottom. This type of crate will usually come with removable barriers that you can place inside the crate to adjust the size. This will become important as the dog begins to venture further into potty training because they don’t like going to the bathroom where they sleep. Of course, as they’re young, accidents will happen and they can usually only hold their bladders for an hour per month of age, up to eight hours. But in the meantime, make sure your dog has room to stand up comfortably in their crate without hunching over too much. They should also be able to turn around or spin in their crate.

Also invest in some sort of soft pillow or blanket for the crate, but don’t spend too much. Odds are it will end up getting chewed on and torn up. Due to their large size, Bloodhounds will put a lot of weight on their elbows and knees, and if the surface they are lying on is too hard, it will create calluses over time. Avoid that by giving them something soft to lie on since they will be spending nights and other times in their crate. Just keep in mind that we want to create a welcoming place the hound wants to go to soothe themselves, and not to use it as a punishment cage.

Correction Collars

The next tool I’m going to mention may be met with some criticism, but has been invaluable to me in raising and training my hound. As my pup started to grow and I found it harder and harder to wrangle him, I started researching correction collars. Some people refer to these as shock collars or E-collars, and while they can be abused if not used correctly, they can also provide some much needed reinforcement and correction for your pup. One problem with Bloodhounds is they have an incredibly high pain tolerance. If you couple that with the loose skin all over their body, correction through other methods can seem ineffective. Correction collars have their place with outdoor and tracking training as well, but can also be used within your home to reinforce or discourage certain behaviors.

If you decide to go this route, I recommend buying a collar that has an audible tone and a vibrate function. For me, my hound responds to the vibration on his collar more than any shock, and when paired with the audible tone, I can usually correct any behavior by simply reminding him with a beep. This will help immensely when training your dog on walks but also when they get indignant in your home and push boundaries. A gentle reminder that the vibration or shock stimulus is coming will help keep your dog in control. My hound will start pushing his luck by engaging in behaviors I’ve trained him not to do, and by simply introducing the collar and placing it around his neck, the behaviors stop and he knows he’s out of chances. Again, I don’t recommend using the collar as a punishment and it should absolutely not be left on for long periods of time, but it can be an invaluable tool in harnessing some of your large dog’s raw energy and indignation.

Chewing

Even though we can try as hard as we can to prevent and correct bad behaviors before they start, puppies are just figuring out how the world works and will lack most impulse control. This means they will inevitably chew on anything that happens to find itself in front of their mouth. Any leftover articles of clothing, toys, and furniture will be prime targets. While the chewing can’t necessarily be stopped outright, there are ways to limit it. The main way you’re going to be able to limit your pup’s chewing is by just paying attention to them and not leaving them unattended for long periods of time. By keeping an eye on them, you will be there to provide instant correction when the dog starts chewing.

Bloodhound
Photo Courtesy – Lindsey Norman

Some people employ spray bottles as a way to correct the behavior and stop the chewing. This won’t always work because a lot of Bloodhounds LOVE water, so then they’ll just be chewing on your couch and cooling off at the same time. Another option would be some sort of chewing deterrent that you can buy at your local pet store. The sprays are usually non-toxic, but are made of something bitter that will leave a bad taste in the dog’s mouth if they try. Of course, make sure you read the warning labels on those sprays and before spraying it on anything, check for colorfastness as some of these sprays can stain or discolor furniture and carpet.

The last good chewing deterrent is making sure you have plenty of toys for the pup. Essentially you want to distract them with things they are allowed to chew on so that they don’t eat things they aren’t supposed to chew on. But, no matter how many toys or sprays you get, a puppy is going to chew on items left on the floor. So just be mindful that they are learning how to exist in their new environment and are very much like human toddlers who just wander around sticking whatever they find in their mouths.

Growling, Barking, and Food Aggression

As puppies grow and learn what is right and wrong, you will more than likely have to focus some time on making sure your pet is not aggressive around food. Coming from a pack environment, they are probably used to fending off their littermates for whatever scraps of food they can get their little paws on. They communicate to others to back off by growling and showing their teeth. This can be concerning as we want to make sure our pups are friendly and not a threat to small children or other household pets. That’s why it is important to control this behavior whenever it pops up.

Bloodhound with woman
Photo Courtesy – Robyn Griffin

One way to show a puppy that you are in control is to take their food bowl and place it in front of you. Pretend that you are eating out of it and then, only after you have shown that you ate first, give it to your pup. This helps establish your role as alpha in the pack and shows that they cannot show aggression toward you. Most food aggression is just harmless posturing, but should be taken seriously as a bite can have serious consequences.

Another way to combat food aggression is to feed your pup one kernel of kibble at a time from your hand. This will teach them to be gentle since you can correct them if your fingers get nibbled. This method again shows the dog that you are in control of the food and that they will eat only when you say it’s okay. Make sure that you, as the adult, test the dog’s limits and identify its aggression, because a lot of kids won’t be as mindful of the dog’s space and could easily find themselves in a situation where they have the potential to be bitten. Get close to your dog, bother them a bit, keep testing and correcting so that you can make sure your dog has good tableside manners.

Anxiety

Now that your pup is beginning to learn how to behave inside your home, it’s also a good time to start training them to know what’s acceptable in the yard. Bloodhounds are sensitive creatures. They can be extremely skittish when it comes to new things introduced in their environment. Some of these items may seem mundane, like yard tools or bird feeders, but some may pose a perceived threat to your Bloodhound. It’s not uncommon to hear a commotion coming from your yard as your Bloodhound witnesses people working on a neighbor’s house, or, in my case, a hot air balloon floating over a couple miles away.

Bloodhound with child
Photo Courtesy – Tracy Harrison

Most dogs will alarm their owners to occurrences that are out of the ordinary, so this in itself isn’t that uncommon. The issue many Bloodhound owners will experience is that the Bloodhound will remember this situation and be wary of the area for days or weeks to come. One time a neighbor of mine set a ladder on the side of their house. My hound saw it, started baying, and would not stop. Every time I let him out after that, he would slink over to that side of the house and start sniffing like crazy trying to identify if the object was still there. There was a solid week where he wouldn’t venture out from under the patio awning because he had seen a hot air balloon flying over and developed a fear that there was inevitably more coming.

The reason it’s important to know how wary Bloodhounds can be of their environment is because it can help us understand some of their behaviors that may happen because of their anxiety. Believe it or not, Bloodhounds can develop anxiety due to things or situations that they are not used to in their environment. This anxiety can lead to all sorts of different behaviors. If your dog is scared of something outside, they may start peeing in the house after being potty trained. They can also start one of the worst Bloodhound behaviors of digging. Since Bloodhounds are so strong, they are master diggers. They will dig their paws in and dig tunnels and holes in any soft part of dirt they can find. This can be entirely frustrating as they will seek out any freshly disturbed dirt and dig it up. Remember the potatoes I mentioned before? They were in the ground for less than five minutes before my hound dug them up. Not only is this concerning as it has the potential to undo all your hard work you put into your landscaping, but also because bath time usually has to follow these excavation incidents. A lot of times, anxiety can be blamed for digging.

Digging

If your dog is nervous outside, or scared of something, bad behaviors will oftentimes present themselves as an outlet for that pent-up energy. Of course, digging can also be attributed to boredom or not enough exercise. So make sure to get your hound some toys, walk them frequently, and do all you can to create a safe and inviting environment for them. If they do start digging, try to identify what the root cause of their anxiety or outburst could possibly be. By identifying the external stressor they are experiencing, you can better understand and stop the negative behaviors that have you pulling your hair out in frustration.

Routines and How They Help Your Pup

Combatting the behaviors listed above can seem like a daunting task. Pair that with the sheer size and stubbornness of your Bloodhound and it may seem downright impossible. But the biggest advice I can give to overcome these hurdles is to remain consistent and attentive to your dog. Try to understand their natural demeanor. By gaining a grasp of how and why your dog is the way they are, you can learn how to train them and support them to grow into loyal and obedient pets. Stay consistent and try to create a routine through crate training and positive reinforcement so that your dog understands your expectations. After all, starting strong with your pup now will save you from hours of frustration, unnecessary landscaping projects, and tons of home repairs down the road.

To read more from "The Complete Guide to Bloodhounds" by Kevin Stueber, or purchase on Amazon, visit the link below:

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