by John Strader
You now have your hound coming to you in the pen and he doesn’t shy away from you, but your work isn’t over yet! Now it’s time to move on to yard work and get him accustomed to coming to, and trusting, you outside the pen.
Start by securing the hound to a 15 foot check cord and then slowly move away from the hound. If the hound follows you, praise him, you’re ahead of the game. If the hound stays where he is, or attempts to move away from you, don’t pressure him. Once again take it slow, as patience is the key!
Start with the same procedure you used in the pen, toss treats to the hound while gently speaking to him. Progress as before, tossing the treats where he will have to come closer to you to retrieve them. Call his name as he approaches. Once he starts coming to you on the check cord, you are close to curing the hand-shy hound. Keep this up until the hound comes to you without offering it treats. Praise the hound and pet him when he comes to you.
Now you are ready to introduce him to your pack on a very limited basis. This next step is very important. Instead of moving him to your regular pens with your other hounds, bring another Beagle to him. The hound you pick you should be very friendly and like attention, but should not be an aggressive hound. Remember, the object once again is to get this Beagle bonded to you, not another hound. You don’t want an aggressive hound that will compete to be the top hound in the pen.
Once you pen the two together, watch them without them being aware that is what you are doing. Make sure they are getting along all right together, and then leave them alone for a few hours. When you go back, call them both to you, and if they both come you are almost there! If the hand-shy hound stays away from you, continue petting and praising the other hound, occasionally calling the hand-shy hound to you. Don’t get discouraged if he doesn’t come to you right away. Keep petting the other hound for about 15 minutes and if the hand-shy hound doesn’t come to you, leave and come back a few hours later. Repeat the process, but don’t go toward the hand-shy hound if he doesn’t come to you. Usually at this point they will come, but in some cases it will take more work. The presence of the other hound can cause some setbacks.
If after several days of this treatment, the hand-shy hound isn’t coming to you, start with the treats once again. This time, though, give the hound that comes to you a treat and put another treat a foot or so in front of you. Make sure the hand-shy hound sees the treat, and then call him to you. In most cases, at this point he will. Praise him and pet him. Continue using the treats for a few more days and then try it without the treats, hopefully he will come with you. In extreme cases it may be necessary to isolate him once again, but usually at this point he will come to you.
The next step is to introduce him to a hunting situation with the hound you have him penned up with. Preferably in an enclosure some place, release him with the other hound to hunt. Follow behind, making sure he is aware of your presence. The object now is to get a rabbit jumped and have the two dogs run the rabbit. After the run is over try to get both hounds to come to you. Many hounds can be hard to pick up after running a rabbit; so don’t mistake the desire to continue to hunt with him being hand-shy. If both hounds come, congratulations, you have cured the hand-shy hound. If not, use some treats and coax him to you. Praise him when he comes to you. As with all the other steps, continue with the treats until he’s ready to come without them. At this point continue running him in the enclosure with the one hound for several weeks until he’s coming to you without any problems.
Now you’re ready to introduce him to a few more pack members, but he still should be penned up with just one hound. Add in a couple more hounds, turn them loose in the enclosure and let them hunt. Afterwards, call the hounds to you. At this point he should come to you with no problem. If he doesn’t, he’s abnormally shy, and you will have to repeat the procedure with the treats.
Once he becomes accustomed to the other hounds in your pack from hunting with them in the enclosure, you can put him in the regular kennel. Continue to monitor him and make sure he stays bonded to you. Now you’re ready to introduce him to a hunt outside the enclosure, be sure to pick a small “patch” to hunt first so you can watch him and make sure he will be easy to catch should he try to shy away from you. If the hound has progressed through all the other stages, at this point you shouldn’t have any more difficulties. As time goes by and he continues to respond favorably, you can progress to larger and larger areas to hunt.
The final step will be to introduce the hound to other members of your hunting party. Keep the numbers small at first, with just one or two other people. Make sure they understand the situation and won’t attempt to catch or handle the hound. Don’t be surprised if the hound will come to you, but not to them. As time goes by and he’s around them more, the hound will come to trust them also.
There is a lot of work, time, and patience involved in curing a hand-shy hound, and it isn’t full proof. You have to decide if the hound is worth the work. I have seen some very fine hounds that were once somewhat hand-shy, so it can be worth the effort. Another thing to keep in mind is, that like any other fault, there are varying degrees on shyness. Some hounds will overcome it quicker than others, and there are a few that may be next to impossible to cure. You have to decide if the hound exhibits enough good qualities to merit the work that will go into curing him of his shyness. Once started, stick to the plan, and once cured, you may find you have gained an outstanding hound.