There is no single, surefire method to train a Lacy on hogs. Each dog is different and what works for one hunter may not work for another. However, these are some of the things we’ve found most successful with our own dogs as well as other dogs we have trained. Please remember safety first and be patient.
The first step, regardless of the dog’s age, is introducing them to a hog. Our own pups start that process at six to eight weeks old, always on a hog of equal or smaller size. The puppies typically see the piglet as a playmate until the piglet nips them, which is usually what “keys” the pup off. Older dogs may need a companion to help them find their way. We use one of our finished dogs to teach older pups and dogs the first few times. After that introduction, we have them work alone for a while so they learn to trust themselves.
As the dog progresses and gains confidence, as well as knowledge of how the hog moves and thinks, we graduate them up in hog size until they can control a 200 to 250 pound boar efficiently. Repetition is important, working the dog on a daily bases increases their drive and helps keep them focused. A young pup will have a short attention span, so five to ten minutes a day is enough. Older dogs can work anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. It’s important not to overwork your dog. Give them breaks and let them get a drink.
Always use a cut collar when training your Lacy. Get it on your pup as soon as it will fit and put it on when you’re going to work them. This accomplishes several things. First, the dog begins to interpret the collar as a sign to start working. Physically they learn how to maneuver differently since the collar changes the dynamics of their body. Most importantly, the cut collar is a safety precaution. Give your Lacy every advantage possible to insure they have a long, happy life of hunting with you.
As you work with your Lacy, watch for behaviors you want to correct and start making those adjustments before they become bad or dangerous habits. For example, you’ll hear the term “gritty” in hunting circles, and it simply means that that dog is more aggressive. That’s not exactly a bad thing so long as the dog knows when to be gritty and when not to. Remember they want to please you and are there as your partner. They need you to give them direction on how to help you as well as the rest of the pack.
Our pups train for the first year in training pens before they ever go on a hunt. That gives them time to mature. Some dogs show minimal potential until they hit around two or even three years. So don’t give up on your Lacy, as they get older they may surprise you.
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.