The world of hog dogging can be broken into two distinct fields: bay pen competitions and woods hunting. Each requires intelligence, endurance and agility. The Lacy dog excels in both arenas. But there are a few differences between woods dogs and bay pen dogs. It is important to understand the nuances of both venues to maximize your Lacy’s potential.
In a bay pen competition, the dog is placed in a large round pen with a boar. Two or three judges are evenly spaced around the pen to evaluate how well the dog controls the hog. The dog is required to bay the pig continuously for a timed period without looking out of the pen. They are judged on style, intensity and focus. Catching or holding is a disqualification.
Sounds simple enough right? Wrong! Bay pen dogs must develop an intimate knowledge of their quarry. They need to understand the nature of the beast in order to control it.
The dogs must also adapt between veteran and green hogs. Some competitions use pigs that are fresh out of the woods and put up a heck of a fight. With green hogs, the dog has to be incredibly quick and agile to maneuver in the enclosed space. Others use seasoned boars that have become used to the dogs. Even if the hog doesn’t move much, the dog cannot get bored and look away, they must stay bayed up.
Bay competitions are sporting events with lots of commotion. There is the audience, judges, pen workers and other dogs to distract them. But your dog has to stay focused on the hog and get the job done with style.
Hunting in the wild is very different. Woods dogs track hogs, bay them up and control them until their hunting partners arrive. They’re completely dependent on their instincts and training. The dogs are, in a sense, on their own.
There is no way of knowing what your dog will come across in the woods. It might be a little shoat or it could be a rank boar with 4 inch cutters. They have to control whatever hog they find in difficult terrain that varies from rocky canyons to thorny brush. Woods dogs should also use any method necessary to control their pig. Many woods dogs will stop a hog from running by nipping them on the rear end or even biting on an ear. But they must always be adaptable and alert to stay safe.
Just as the bay pen dog has distractions, so do woods dogs. There many fun things to chase and catch during a hunt. But whether they come across a cow or a coon, woods dogs are trained to stay focused and only go after hogs.
Though there are the obvious differences between the two fields, most hog dogs start their training in a bay pen with smaller pigs. It is a safe way to introduce your dog to their quarry and build their confidence. For serious woods hunters, the pen is a short lived training tool. Too much pen time can give a dog the impression that they don’t have to go out looking for the pigs. Likewise, devoted bay pen competitors don’t run their dogs in the woods very often. Too much woods time can teach a dog it’s alright to get gritty and bite the pig.
Because they are smart, steadfast, agile and quick, Lacys do well in the bay pen and the woods, but it is best to concentrate in one arena. A good woods Lacy generally won’t score well in competitions, they get bored or gritty if the pigs are dog broke. Bay pen Lacys can be good helpers on a hunt, but they usually won’t head out with the strike dogs to find hogs. They can also learn tactics from the woods dogs that could get them disqualified in the pen.
Whether you compete with your dog in bay pen competition or take them out hunting in the woods, we are proud of you and your working Lacys!
This article was written by Misty Dawn Brooks of Bayed Blue Kennels. She and her husband Mike Brooks breed working Lacys and train hog dogs.