Thursday, July 20, 2006

Starting Puppies

One of the most important things you can remember when starting puppies is to get your mind right. Puppies are puppies. Often times, pups have spent most of the last six months in a small pen. They don't know how grass smells, what concrete or gravel is, even how their own track smells as it lays on the ground. All of this to say, can we really expect a pup that has never been out of his pen to know much his first time out?
How you condition, train and socialize young pups is very important for you and the pup. Since we would rather discuss the nuts and bolts of puppy starting; I'll save the 6 weeks to 6 month old training for another article and jump right to starting the pup. You can talk to half a dozen good dog men and you may get six different answers as how to start a beagle pup. One of the most important factors to consider is the size of your operation. If you only need to start a couple pups or maybe a litter you might want to proceed in the method I'll outline today.
Why do I think 6 months is the right age? The main reason is that younger pups, more often than not, just don't have the physical size to push briars and tall weeds aside. Sure, you can get younger pups to start. Often the pup will learn life long habits trying to overcome his lack of size and strength.
First, find a place that will offer few distractions. Some pups tend to loose their focus if there's lots of interesting things going on around them.
For this method you will only need two things; a wire cage, and rabbit. Place the rabbit in the wire cage. Bring the pup into the area where the rabbit is. He should spot it as it hops around in the cage. He may double take at this new creature a time or two. He may even back off as if he is scared. Don't worry this is normal. If the time is right the pup will soon start to sniff the rabbit through the cage. This will be followed by the young hound scratching and biting at the cage in an attempt to get the bunny. As the rabbit is safely in the cage the pups frustration at not being able to get him will quickly lead him to bay at the rabbit. This will likely be the first time you will hear the actual note he will use while he runs a rabbit. Once the pup starts tonguing at the rabbit you will notice his intensity will increase as he works himself into a tizzy trying to get that rabbit. Now the pup is ready to start running. It is important to note, this author has almost never seen a pup start tonguing on a track if that pup would not first give tongue to a rabbit in a cage when given the opportunity. That's not to say a pup can’t start with out the cage exercise, but I have observed through the starting of many pups, the pup that refuses to bay at a caged rabbit will not take track.
I will typically allow the pup to bay at the rabbit for about one minute before I move on. It is ideal that the place you are working has some tall weeds or brush that will allow a rabbit to get out of site of the pup quickly. Now place the pup on a lead and open the rabbit cage. Hopefully you have a good rabbit and he will quickly run towards weeds. You pup should be pulling on the lead and barking now as much as ever. Just as the rabbit goes out of sight "RELEASE THE HOUNDS" ( I always wanted to say that) and the pup will take off after the rabbit. Now we need to be rooting for the rabbit to get away as it is important for the pup to loose site of the rabbit. As the pup cast about looking for the rabbit he will start to realize he can smell the rabbit. It is at this very moment most pups will put there nose to the ground and start tracking the rabbit tonguing aloud as they make progress. If the pup looses interest or looses the scent don't over react. Just encourage him to look for the rabbit. If needed you can walk him in the direction the rabbit went. Hopefully he will smell it before he sees it. Because tame rabbit from a cage can't run for very long the rabbit will still be in the area. Just look around you will find him. On occasion you and the pup will loose the rabbit. If you were doing this exercise in you own yard you will be in luck. The next day or so you will see the rabbit again eating on the lawn. This time go get the pup and take him over to where the rabbit is (was.) He should pick up on the scent and start to bay as before. Your pup is almost started. All you have to do now is take him for a walk where wild rabbits live. Soon enough he will smell one and start to run.
Now let me caution you before you start. Once your pup can see the rabbit in the cage and will bark at it, only let him see the rabbit sparingly or not at all. You do not want the young fellow to think it is his eyes he should be using to find Mr. Bunny.
Remember I said this is not the only way to start a pup. It takes a little time with you and your pup. Time I will add you should find as rewarding as any you have spent. I would also like to mention that I have used this method on several dozen pups my self and have found it to work 100 percent of the time.
I hope you will consider starting your pup your self, instead of using the starting pen. There is nothing quite like the feeling you get when you hear that pup open on the line for the first time. If you have any question or comments feel free to drop me a line.

Monday, July 17, 2006

This weekend has finally brought a long anticipated event for our kennel. Daisy has whelped her puppies. She was breed to FC Bullocks Creek Smoke on Mothers day. 62 1/2 days later…… Whalaaa! If you have kept up with the site you already know Daisy is out of Star. Star is out of Cocoa Bear and a female out of Hokie High. Smoke is also out of Cocoa Bear and a female out of Hokie High. That's enough to make your head spin, but the idea is to intensify the genes that make these dogs what they are. Any way, take a look at Daisy and her new babies. I'll be making updates on the progress of these pups as they grow. With any luck we can chronicle their hunting careers down the road.
I also have another nice young male out of Star and Covington's Dreamer. His name is Palmetto State Cocoa Tom. I named him Tom after Tom Covington. He is the breeder of Star and Dreamer. Dreamer is out of Cocoa Bear and a Buzz Line Director female. Since Tom Covington is the breeder on both parents I thought it was fitting for the dog to be named after him. I hope my eye has not failed me and Cocoa Tom is as good as I think he is. I'll be keeping you posted on his progress as well.
One other thing, I am working on an article about starting puppies. I get lots of emails asking about this so I thought I'd write something up. I hope to get it finished later this week.
Until next time…………….

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

It's a busy time around the kennel right now. It's dead mid summer and I have the itch to run dogs more right now than ever. I can remember 10 years ago it darn near impossible to have a race when it was 90 degrees out. Today's dogs just seem to be able to put on a race no matter what. I'm not sure if I have learned that much more about what qualities really help a rabbit race and which ones hurt the race or it's just a weather pattern allowing scenting to be better the last few summers.
Lady Bear is ended the season in the spring with 2 wins and over 500 points. She's still one win short of gaining the title of Field Champion. Since most of you have never seen Lady Bear run, let me tell you, she is one that truly deserves the title. She rarely has failed to make the winners pack at the field trails she has been entered in. She is almost always in the thick of things. If a dog has 500 points, that's a lot of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place finishes. These are classes in the south east where the typical class size consists of over 50 dogs. This is not to mention what she is like rabbit hunting. All of that to say this; I keep her in pretty close to competition form as I never know when the bug to travel up north and compete one weekend will bite.
I'm torn to tell the truth. I feel really strong about her chances to win if I were to go N for one the trials. The down side is this: I am scheduled to judge 4 trials in September and October. I judge 15" hounds as I compete in the 13" class. If I go N and she gets that 3rd win I will not have a dog to run at the trials I am already committed to going to. What to do?
If you know me you'll also know I have another really good bitch, Daisy. Daisy is 8 weeks pregnant with pups from FC Bullocks Creek Smoke. She is due the 16th and don't expect her back in trial form until late October or maybe later. The fact is, it may take part of rabbit season to really get her tuned back into shape. No matter though, Daisy is a super bitch. She hunts for a rabbit like she's a crack addict looking for her pipe. Daisy is out of Star and if you know your pedigrees, you already know Smoke is Stars 3/4 brother. These pups should have all the same great qualities of Smoke, Star and Daisy. I'm sure looking forward to them.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Ok, so this is my first post. I'm really just trying to figure out how this works. I am so computer illiterate! I think you can go straight to my web site by clicking on the "my web page" button on the left. Jus in case you can use this link There you will find information on my beagles as well as a few articles I've written on the subject. I do have running dogs and pups available from time to time so stop in and take a look. As always, I welcome your comments.