Whilst Shepherds are often a firm favourite, we can take some top tips from those in the Deep South. The Black Mouth Cur is a renowned farm-dog. They are intelligent, fearless, energetic and loyal. So, what roles can the BMC take on a farm and how do you train them to do so?
We’ve put together some top tips for using a Black Mouth Cur on a Homestead, specifically for herding, guarding and retrieving. Your research into the BMC may have shown you that puppies are often described as hunters or herders. This is because their bloodlines have largely specialised in these tasks.
It’s not to say your herder can’t hunt or vice versa, but if you have a particular job you want your BMC to do, it’s best to share this with the breeder so they can advise whether one of their puppies is likely to suit.
On the whole, males are generally better at hunting. They are bigger in size so therefore more intimidating. They can also be more laid-back.
Females are better house dogs, so may serve to be better protectors of the home. Whichever role you are asking of your BMC, it’s important to start training as soon as possible.
Training a Homestead Dog
When they are puppies, work on the basic commands, like sit, stay, down, stop and so on. Your working dog should also have infallible recall. You want to be confident that he will return to you whenever you need him to.
To teach recall, lure your puppy towards you with a treat or toy. Label the behaviour as he comes to you. Slowly, increase the distance between you and puppy, before asking a helper to hold their collar whilst you increase the distance further. Progressing, you can add in distractions, including other people and other animals.
Some working dogs respond well to being taught direction. You would first teach targeting. So, asking your dog to touch a post-it note on your hand initially, or set up a traffic cone with a treat underneath.
As soon as your dog touches the target, reward the behaviour. Repeat. Once he has figured out the targeting, set up two traffic cones (with post-it notes attached, if you have used them).
Ask your dog to touch either of the cones by pointing to them. Alternate between the cones. Once your dog is touching the cones from signal, add the direction – the cone that is to his left, label left, and the same for the right. Remember to use his left or right and not yours!
Training Your Dog To Herd
Direction can come in handy if you will be asking your BMC to herd. If you are going to ask your BMC to retrieve, you need to introduce retrieving from puppyhood too! Start with toys before moving on to decoys.
Throw the toy for your dog at a short distance, they should be that interested, they instinctively pick it up. Call them towards you (this is why recall is so important). With a chew or treat in your hand, offer it to your dog. They should drop the toy or decoy they have retrieved to eat the chew or treat – label the behaviour, “drop!” Repeat.
You can also add hand signals; pointing to the floor as he drops too. Then from a distance, providing your dog is focussed on you, you can still ask him to carry out tasks.
Training From a Young Age
Most historic worker dogs will show typical guarding or herding behaviours from a young age. They may start circling other animals or small children. They may also start alerting you to noises from a young age. If they aren’t showing a predisposition to working behaviour, it could be worth arranging to see a behaviourist who specializes in working dogs.
They may be able to advise on the best course of action to re-train your dog. The most important thing with any working dog is to be observant – watch for the behaviours you want them to demonstrate and reward them.
Even just the slightest advance towards a behaviour. Teaching impulse control is also essential for working dogs so brain games and command work should be a part of your daily routine. Above all else, never introduce your dog to livestock until they are safe to do so.
BMCs have an incredibly strong prey drive. When it’s channelled, they are superb workers, when it’s not, they can be problematic. If at any point you are struggling with your training, seek the advice of a qualified professional.
David Woods is a carpenter, outdoorsman, and author with more than 30 years of professional woodworking experience. He is the author of best-seller How to Build a Log Home and has educated more than half a million people on how to build a log cabin via his blog, Log Cabin Hub. Connect with him on Facebook.
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