How to Be Coonhound Savvy

By: Charleston Marie


So you are thinking about adopting a coonhound and not sure about the little things about them?  Here are some tried and true tips and techniques for coonhound ownership compiled from the many years of experience from various fostering situations and ownership.

The first and foremost rule to coonhound ownership is to have a SENSE OF HUMOR.

Coonhounds don’t usually take themselves too seriously and you shouldn’t either. 

The next rule is to KEEP AN OPEN MIND

and thirdly: when in doubt, talk to your vet.

Coonhounds are very special dogs.  They are difficult to own if you don’t have the right tools or mindset to work with them, love them and understand them.   For the sake of this article, we’re using tips that are geared more towards rescued coonies; those from shelters or rescue or found as strays.  It’s unfortunate that so many are mistreated by people who don’t understand them.  Taking the time to get to know your coonhound and understand him or her will pay off with a very nice, loyal and loving companion.

1.     Coonhounds are sensitive.  Coonhounds are probably the most emotionally sensitive canines out there.  They upset very easily at changes in routine or homes.  Gentle but firm is the best way to treat them as to not hurt their feelings.  They tend to take harsh punishment and verbal reactions very personally.  They are known to sulk and have mastered the guilt trip.

2.    Coonhounds are pack animals.  They love people in general and love being in their pack – whether the pack is the family or other dogs or a combination of both.  They generally aren’t very good only-children and love a companion to hang out with, bark with and to blame things on.

3.    Coonhounds are self-thinkers.Coonhounds aren’t Labradors.  They don’t do what they are told or behave a certain way just because you ask them to.  They don’t really care to please humans.  They have an agenda and unless there’s a good motivational force (food) then they have no reason to do what we say.

4.    Coonhounds love unconditionally.  They don’t care what you look like or how you live your life, as long as it revolves around them they will have a never-ending love.

5.    Coonhounds are affectionate.    They love to be touched, they love to be cuddled and they love sharing furniture with humans and other animals.  Any coonie that comes from an abusive situation and reacts badly to affection can be rehabilitated.  Once they learn that their new human is not going to hurt them, they become affection sponges.

  1. 6.   Kids.  Coonhounds, as a general rule, love kids and all the things about them.  They love the activity associated with kids, the affection from kids and they love that they are usually covered in food molecules.  Coonhounds are very savvy around babies, toddlers and up. They will adjust their play accordingly and can be very gentle and maternal towards little ones.  On the flip side, if your coonie is a larger one and unaware of its own size, there may be the concern of knocking over the toddler or whacking the baby with the tail.  Keeping a keen eye on the dog and child when they interact is always a good idea.

7.    Furniture.  Give up all rights to your furniture. No matter how hard you try, keeping them off of the warm, soft, comfy couch isn’t going to happen. You may think they aren’t on it, but when you aren’t looking or you are gone, they are on it.  Levitating furniture is a real problem and they are more than obliged to hold it down for you.  And there’s nothing better than snuggling up with your coonie on a cold night watching movies (and sharing your snacks).

8.    Coonhounds can be trained.  No matter their age at time of adoption, they can be trained. It’s just a matter of finding what motivates them (usually food).  Once there’s an established emotional bond, they will respond if motivated to do so.

9.    Obedience can be attained.  Coonhounds can be obedient if motivated to do so. We have never seen a coonhound that is by-the-book obedient.  They are obedient in their own way – when the nose doesn’t get in the way.

10.  The Coonhound Nose, aka Soul.  The nose on a coonhound is second only to the bloodhound.   Their main motivation for everything is that nose and what they can find with it.  Their sense of smell far exceeds that of a human. Everything has a distinct smell and that nose can be used for motivational reasons.   They will burn more energy sniffing out a hidden object or a stray kibble under the couch than running in circles in the back yard.  Searching out an object takes nose-power AND brain-power. 

11.  The Coonhound Brain.  The coonhound brain is always active.  If it’s not positively active, it can become naughty and destructive.  If the brain isn’t stimulated appropriately, then they will find something to stimulate it – usually digging in the trash, unstuffing the couch, emptying the pantry and other duties that need to be done.  Destructive tendencies aren’t the coonhounds fault, but the brains’ and the humans’ fault.

12.  Coonhounds are loud. There’s a myth that coonhounds are loud and obnoxious barkers.  This is partially true.  They are loud if the situation demands it – like squirrels in the yard, the little rat dogs next door yipping at the fence, the UPS man coming to the door or people ringing the doorbell.   Situational barking can be cured if the reason for the barking is removed.   Keeping good coonie-proof chew things (kongs, rawhides…) around the house is another way to keep them quiet.  A busy mouth is a quiet mouth!

13.  Housebreaking.  We have yet to foster or rehabilitate a coonhound that can’t be housebroken.  Using a doggy door is an amazing concept.  Once they realize they can go out and tell off the squirrels anytime they want then they are housebroken. They are relatively clean dogs and don’t like pee and poo in their ‘den’ area, so this helps too.

14.  Crating.  Don’t feel guilty using a crate with a coonie.  As long as they can lie down, stretch out and turn around without bumping their head, they will be fine.  Sometimes this is required for their safety and your sanity.  After a few months of crating while you are gone or at night, they will take that as their private place and you’ll find them in it sleeping, chewing on things or hiding toys in there.  They will most definitely hide in there when caught being naughty.

15.  Coonhound puppyhood.  Coonhounds don’t fully mature into an adult dog until about 3 years old.   However, you cannot expect maturity.  Some never fully mature into the calm, collected adult dogs that our friends have.   We have had 2 year coonies that are very calm and mature and then there’s 10 year old coonies that climb trees and play with the pups.

16.  Coonhounds are temperature sensitive. Since a majority of coonhounds have little to no body fat, they can get cold or overheated very quickly.  Keeping them outdoors constantly isn’t a good idea for this very reason.  Fleece coats and sweaters are their friends in the winter.  Cooling scarves (with the water soaked puffy granules) are recommended if they are out in the heat for an extended period of time.  Dehydration in both situations has to be watched.

17.  Water and food.  Coonies drink a lot of water and thrive on good quality kibble. Drool is standard.  Many don’t do well with poultry based food or raw food diets.   If you suspect your coonie is having a little bout of food allergies, these tend to show up as skin rashes.  Also, many shelter coonies have been eating low quality and bulk foods and will have upset tummies for a while after they are placed.  Yoghurt or canine probiotics are very well received by coonies to help regulate digestion and prevent dehydration.

18.  Exercise.  Coonhounds, like all dogs, require exercise. Depending on your coonie and its personality will determine how much exercise they require to maintain sanity (yours and theirs.) Many thrive in homes with parents that are runners or joggers and some are happy holding the furniture down or just riding in the car to Starschmucks and back.

19.  Social interactions.  Fenced-in off-leash dog parks are good for coonhounds.  They can run to their hearts content, play chase with others and learn the appropriate social manners required for public settings.   Hanging out with other hounds does great things for their confidence and social abilities.  They do tend to prefer other coonies for friends, but can easily befriend any dogs as long as they are nice.   Dog parks that aren’t fenced in aren’t a good idea for coonhounds, it only takes one rabbit or fox to distract your coonie and off they go.

Copyright (C) 2009 Colorado Coonhound Rescue & Adoption Service, All Rights Reserved

Ah comm’on!  Just a taste?  Please?