Jasper wrote to ask me about training his dog to hunt wild hogs/wild boar: “I have recently purchased a dog. She is a Labrador/Bully/English Pointer cross. She is eight months-old and she is a little timid. I am slowly building her confidence but when I take her hunting she follows me rather than goes off to hunt. Is there any advice into building her natural instinct to hunt??”
Hi, Jaspur: I think she’s probably still too young to expect her to go off and hunt independently. I wouldn’t expect her to do that until she’s probably around 1 1/2 to 2 years of age. The best thing you can do for a dog like this is to let her hunt in a pack with more experienced dogs– once she’s a little older. At this age, just let her hang with you and watch the older dogs work. I’d recommend talking with an experience hog dog trainer, though. If she’s got it in her, I’d expect it will come out after being on a few hunts. If she doesn’t, then you’re stuck with a pet rock. Drive is genetics. If she’s got it, you can enhance it. But if she doesn’t have it, she doesn’t have it.
Jasper replied: “Thanks Adam. I’m going to take her out with a pack this weekend. Is there any other advice you can give me to really enhance her hunting instincts preferably in a controlled manner? Drills and exercises, maybe?”
I replied: I’m probably not the guy to ask about training hog hunting dogs. I’m at the top when it comes to teaching dogs how to be great companion animals, but I’ve never been hog hunting (although I’d love to go, someday!) Nor do I have any contacts in the hog hunting world. There is currently a reality TV show about some guys down in Texas who use dogs to hunt wild boar. The show has probably brought a lot of attention to the niche, I would imagine?
From what I know about dog training in general and about working dogs in specific — and from what I’ve seen in some old videos on hog hunting– a lot of it appears to be finding a good dog with strong natural hunt drive and picking the right dog to start with. I haven’t seen any actual hog dog training in person, other than once seeing a guy start a young dog in a controlled environment. But even that was more just acclimation than training, per se.
You might try some of the hog dog hunting forums online and see what they have to say.
Back in 1995-96, I was very involved in researching the American Bulldog breed (used frequently to hunt hogs) out in California and knew many trainers and breeders. But they don’t do much hog hunting in California, so the actual hog hunting just wasn’t something I was exposed to, beyond a few videos on VHS. (Remember VHS?)