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is my dog bored?

September 12th, 2008, 03:13 PM
Hi all,
A few months ago we adopted Leo, a rescued bluetick coonhound. From what I can tell, Leo was used as a hunting dog by his previous owner and either lost or abandoned - it's unclear, but he was rescued from a kill shelter. Anyway, he's our house pet now and things are going well. We got an invisible fence installed around our yard and Leo's done very well getting trained to it and we feel safe leaving him outside unattended while we're at home. We also take Leo on walks (a little over a mile, once a day usually - tried running him, he's not interested in running on a leash), that he seems to enjoy. I've also got him enrolled in obedience school and we go once a week and are learning some good tricks, which he also seems to enjoy. So what's the problem? Well, Leo seems bored. Given that the first portion of his life was likely dedicated to coon hunting with the pack, he now seems somewhat disinterested in what we have to offer him - like coon hunting is his passion and reason for being. He'll go outside in the yard, but he seems pretty ambivalent about it. When we're home in the house, he's usually snoozing. When we go on walks he's pretty happy, but sometimes he goes into "hunt" mode and starts pulling and whining and wanting to follow some scent... Anyway, it seems like Leo might be missing the hunting portion of his life - but raccoon hunting just isn't something that's on my list of pass times.

Anyone else have a hound that seems to miss the hunt? Any suggestions of hunting substitutions? Anyone know anything about 'tracking' and how to teach your dog to do it? Oh, and I should mention, the two times Leo's been 'off leash' in a non-fenced area, he took off and it was very difficult to find and catch him again, so I really don't feel safe letting him 'hunt' for a while and then just hope he comes back... I'm afraid that might be how he got separated from his previous owners...

Oh, Leo's not exhibiting any 'bad' behaviors like chewing or digging or anything, so maybe he's NOT bored - maybe he's just lazy... who knows? I just love him so much and I want to KNOW that he's happy and right now, I don't know if he is. Oh, he's alone for about 5 hours a day - I work part time. He doesn't seem starved for attention - I'm sitting here right now and he's snoring away at my feet - not demanding attention.

September 12th, 2008, 03:27 PM
Maybe you could get one of those fake rabbit things that go ZOOOM and he could pretend to hunt?? I've seen those type of things on animal planet before. That could be worth a try.

Depending on how old he is, he could just be getting lazy. Boredness usually leads to destructive behavior.

September 12th, 2008, 03:52 PM
Hm, that's an interesting idea - I could try that, but I'm not sure it would work - Leo is much more scent driven than sight driven. A squirrel can run right in front of him and, I swear, he won't see it. If he SMELLS a squirrel, though, watch out! He's particularly enamored with road kill - he loves to pick up dead squirrels (thankfully he puts them down again and doesn't eat them).

The vet says he could be anywhere between 2 and 7 - hard to tell, but he guessed Leo is about 5. Leo's front teeth are very worn down, leading the vet to deduce that Leo was likely caged for the majority of his time and wore his teeth down by chewing at his kennel's fence to get free, or something like that. I mean, MAYBE he's just a quiet, lazy dog - all I really have to compare him to is our old family dog who was one of those silly dogs who was always trotting around with her tail wagging and tongue flopping around, and who seemed generally thrilled to be alive all the time (ah Belle - I sure do miss her). Maybe Leo's just more mellow and subdued - just his personality? Maybe, if he was caged his whole life, lying around in between "hunts" is all he knows? He doesn't really know how to play, in the traditional sense... I guess no one ever taught him how when he was a puppy... He just seems generally disinterested. Unless there's food involved - then he's VERY engaged. He does thump his tail when one of us wakes him up - so I THINK he likes us... I don't know... just rambling here.

September 12th, 2008, 04:05 PM
what about tracking classes.. I know a friend of mine took his basset hound to one..

September 12th, 2008, 04:08 PM
hmm, that's an idea. i know NOTHING about tracking - i didn't even realize they had classes for it. I will ask Leo's obedience school teacher if she knows of any - maybe they even teach them there.

September 12th, 2008, 04:30 PM
I would suggest that you try to teach him the joys of play. Perhaps if you drip a bit of deer urine (the kind you buy in sporting goods stores for hunters to cover their own scent) on a tennis ball or toy, let him smell it and then hide it in the yard?? I bet he'd go look for it. And of course that might tie in with any tracking training that you decide to take up. If he was raised strictly as a hunting dog, I would bet that he never learned how to play. They also make toys that you can place a scent container in - I think those are used as training aids for scent dogs.

I don't have alot of knowledge on coon hounds but I don't seem to recall them being overly active dogs, at least not like their smaller cousins.

September 12th, 2008, 04:33 PM
I think you are worrying too much! By the sounds of things, Leo is living a safe, happy, and healthy life with you! I would be more concerned if he was exhibiting behaviours like Kathryn mentioned (due to boredom). Are there any fenced dog parks in your area? That would be a good place for you to let him run off leash, and socialize without risk of running away.

September 12th, 2008, 07:29 PM
Oh, yes - we have a dog park we go to sometimes, to visit with and sniff other dogs. Leo fell in LOVE with a chocolate lab when we were there yesterday - he kept trying to mount her, but she wasn't having it! (sorry to be crass, but it was pretty funny)

September 12th, 2008, 07:30 PM
Most of the hounds I've known have been focused hunters, but dum-de-dummers at home...just lazing around or being clowns when not hunting. :cloud9: Real sweethearts. :lovestruck:

Hounds are very scent oriented. If you think he misses actively using his nose, the tracking classes are a fantastic idea. If there are no tracking classes available, maybe agility would be good, too, just for the activity aspect of it. He may not ever get to competition level, but the challenge might be good for his mind and he'd certainly enjoy the exercise. And who knows? He might be a natural. :D

September 12th, 2008, 09:23 PM
Hum-de-dummer - that about sums Leo up, I'd say - at home, anyway. I guess I don't mind him being lazy - in fact, I love it for my sanity's sake, but I just got worried that he was totally bored. I will look into tracking, or even agility (that mental image it hilarious to me - my 80-pound, lopey hounddog jumping thru hoops just kills me) to keep his mind occupied - he's incredibly smart, I've found, through our training so far. And, we both enjoy working together, learning new tricks. He picks things up SO quickly, it amazes me. He'll probably never get over his 'need' to hunt, but if I can just make sure he's happy in other ways, I will feel like I'm being a good dog mom.

September 12th, 2008, 09:27 PM
How about rescuing a 'friend' for Leo, a dog about his size who's desperate for a wonderful home like yours.

the gang
September 12th, 2008, 09:43 PM
good idea:lightbulb: was thinking the same thing--- good luck and keep the updates coming, thanks for being his :angel2: brenda and the pins.

September 13th, 2008, 08:45 AM
that thought HAS crossed my mind - coincidentally, there's another bluetick at the rescue shelter named Bob... it MIGHT be perfect, but then again, I'm still getting used to having 1 dog - two might be a little much... but, i DID think that Leo would probably immensely enjoy having another pack member to while away his days with... but the thought of having two makes me head spin! but then i think about poor Bob, and what a sweetie he probably is... oh, i don't know...

September 13th, 2008, 09:02 AM
Having two dogs is so much fun!!! It can be a challenge when walking but you learn very quick how to handle the two. I would honestly have more than 2 if hubby would allow me.

September 13th, 2008, 12:51 PM
Two dogs are a blast, but I do think it's smart not to jump into it until you feel really comfortable with the first one (...I feel a bit hypocritical after typing that, being the girl who went from no dogs to 2 overnight, but trust me, I have experience :laughing: )

Tracking seems like it would be a great idea though. If you can't find classes near you, I know there are books and DVDs on the subject which you could probably *track down* (hahaha) without too much trouble.

ETA: I also wouldn't stress too much about Leo being bored. Every time I leave the BF with the dogs for the day I get a phone call saying 'I think the dogs are bored, they don't like me, I'm not as exciting as you', but really, my two are total maniacs outside and couch potatoes inside. As long as their getting a few hours of walks a day, they're happy to spend their time napping.

September 15th, 2008, 08:36 PM
Have yet to meet a dog who didn't prosper emotionally and physically from having a companion. Playtime is boring when theres no one else to chase or frolick with, even nap time is better with someone to curl up with. Leo would be less energized on his walks (less pulling hunting mode) if he had more physical exercise with a friend in his yard. Please re-consider.

October 22nd, 2009, 08:54 AM
I would say he is not bored. I have a bluetick that is about 7 yrs old. We got him from a shelter about 5 years ago. Hound dogs when they are in the house usually just like to lay around unless there is food around. I also have had several beagles and have 1 now. I just get some treats (mine like the bacon flavored) stuff them in a ball or small toy that he can chew on. Let him smell it so he knows it is there. Then leave him in the house and you take the toy outside and make a trail. Start the trail at the back porch so he smells it as soon as he goes out so he knows what he is doing. Drag it all through the yard so the treat scent is there and leave it in a corner or under a piece of wood the dog could move easily, so that he actually has to hunt for it. My dogs love it. Blue ticks are great dogs especially with kids, enjoy him.

October 22nd, 2009, 09:11 AM
It sounds like your too worried. He has a great life now, you rescued him. A companion would be great, but it is a lot more work. Tracking classes is the best idea. I did agility with my active terrier and it was the best time we had. Even mental stimulation is exercise.

October 22nd, 2009, 10:53 AM
I agree with Marty on this one. I absolutley never reccomend anyone to get a second dog because they want a companion for the first.

There are a lot of ways to ensure companionship without bringing another dog in the home, which can actually backfire - and bring a lot of stress upon your first dog; not to mention you never know how the two dogs relationship will form.

Our two female dogs rarely play with one another at home, but at the dog park and at their doggy daycare they play and adore all the dogs they meet -that is when they get their needed excercise, mental stimulation; it's certainly not at home.

October 22nd, 2009, 01:25 PM
I have to let you know, I love your dog. When I was a small child, My grandfather raised these beautiful coon hounds, and hunted with them. My grandmother baby sat 9 grandkids everyday while our parents worked. I loved dogs so much my grandfather put me to work feeding and watering, walking the hound puppys. Helping to get them ready for new homes. I never ever forgot the joy of this experience in my life. Today,I teach obedience at my kennel club, and am involved with rescue and foster. I owe it all to these wonder dogs. How lucky you are to own him. He is beautiful. As to your question. If you aren't a hunter, their are games you can play with him that mit help with his missing the hunt. Take a treat ball with treats in it and hide it. Let him go find it. If you live near a park with woods, hook him to a loong training leash and let him sniff around as you walk with him. I agree with if you have one near you to see if their is a group for search/tracking classes. It mit be a really fun thing for you both. You could contact a kennel club near you, they mit be able to give more info. on what you could now do with your hound. The agilty thing would be fun. Even just taking some obedience glasses to start off with would get him off the couch. LOL! And bless your heart for caring how he mit be missing the hunt.