Starting Your Hog Dogs
Michelle Mears

Reprinted from Boar Hunter Magazine

As owner and operator of High on the Hog Kennel, Iíve been breeding, training and hunting hog dogs of all breeds for nearly 13 years. Through the years, Iíve discovered unique training techniques, through trail and error that work well. I thought Iíd share some of them with you.

I am aware that numerous methods are employed to start young dogs. Some of you wait until the dog is older and just start running them with your finished dogs, some start their pups in a bay pen, etc. How does one decide on which pups to concentrate their energy and time? Here is a "sure fire" way to help make this important decision and to get the best pups started.

When the pups are three to four months old, locate and purchase a shoat about as large, or perhaps slightly smaller, than the pups. A smaller pig will help the pups to build confidence. Introduce them to the pig in a place where the pups feel secure; your yard, whelping pen or even your living room will suffice (although your wives may disagree with me on that last one!). I personally like to put the pups in their pen and tease them from the outside with the pig. This practice usually results in loud barking from the pups (along with every other dog in the yard).

After a few such encounters, the pups should become more confident and aggressive, wanting to get at it, but donít let them just yet. Do this for a week or two until they are going crazy when you show them that pig. You should be able to cull a few puppies right there. The next step is to take the pups in our truck or four-wheeler and drive somewhere into the woods where you show them the pig once again. Let them work it a little. This helps the pups to relate the vehicle and the ride with going to get a pig. ALWAYS take the pig away before they lose interest, since young dogs have an extremely short attention span. Always leave them wanting more, this will increase their drive and desire. Also, be sure to praise them. Dogs love to make their master happy and will try harder next time to receive additional, well-earned praise.

Finally, take the pups to an overgrown field or sparsely wooded area. Keep the pups in the box but show them the pig and let them get really worked up. Leash and take the pig (Good luck!) through the bushes, around trees and through tall grass. Hobble the pig so it canít run away, and then release your pups. Wear rubber boots, or the pups will be trailing your scent and not the pigs. Encourage the pups to find the pig, they might be somewhat confused at first, so give them a strong hint if you can. Watch to see who puts their nose down and tries to work it out, and see who prefers to throw their nose to the wind. Even if you have to walk them all the way to the pig, encourage them to find it and praise then when they finally arrive.

Once they realize whatís at the end of that smell on the ground, the next time will be easier. After youíve made your choices among the pups, work each selected pup along. Youíll probably be surprised to see some "Me too!" dogs, these dogs do fairly well with their littermates, but they will probably not perform well on their own.

For more information contact Michelle Mears at

High on the Hog Kennels
Michelle Mears
Plantation, Fla.

(954) 791-6473