To all those that want a Shikoku but have no Shikoku experience…. Read on.
I will never say my Shikokus don’t love me, enjoy our cuddles, seek attention and affection, miss me when I’m gone; but there’s a lot of behavioral differences in hound dogs versus other breeds.
If you are not a hound person, it may be hard to understand but this says it all!
Hounds do not believe that they need you. You are a convenience like a favorite cup of coffee or a favorite pair of shoes. If the cup is broken or the shoes are lost, we can get along just fine. Other dog breeds like retrievers and herding breeds and a host of others are bred to work with man; neither can do their work without the other. Even the worst behaved Lab cares when Mom or Dad are annoyed; it’s in their DNA to make us happy.
Hounds not so much.
Hounds have been bred to be taken out to the edge of the field or woods and be let loose to go out and do what they do with no instruction from the hunter or handler. They go out all on their own to do their thing. They make their own decisions and do their own work and when they have found their quarry they command /call the hunter to come to them with those beautiful voices. (who is working for whom in this scenario?)
Now do you see how your hound thinks differently?
Life with a hound is far more like having a spouse than a dog. It is a far more cooperative effort with all the give and take that implies. Hounds are not going to do what you say just because you said it. You are secondary to their desire. There must be something in it for them; there has to be a tradeoff. If there is no reward or benefit for the hound you might find that the Hound cares little about what you are asking him/her to do.
People incorrectly refer to this as being stubborn; or worse stupid. Hounds are neither of these. They are independent and cunning. They prioritize differently and you are not always their priority. This is exactly as they should be. They were bred to be this way. It is all necessary to be a Hound Dawg.
When working with a Hound you have to be thinking:
- How do I make myself the priority?
- What do I have to give this dog to make me more important than what it smells or wants?
We humans always think we are in charge of things. We think we are top of the chain, the head honchos and we naturally approach training our dogs and living with our dogs as though we are in charge. Your Hound doesn’t see it that way. Your Hound, at best, sees you as a family member or as a sibling or, if you are very lucky, a parent. One has to ask; do you walk into your sister or brother’s house and start to bark orders and expect them to hop to?
Mostly your Hound sees you as a good friend. What do we do with our friends? Well, when a friend does something for us we return the favors; there is give and take. When the friendship is out of balance; when one friend takes but does not give then the friendship suffers. Its ok for one friend to be the strong friend; the dominant friend but it is always a partnership.
So remember that your Shikoku is a hound; bred to hunt with instinct, intelligence and tenacity using the tools that are embedded in their DNA.