PACK, BRACE, AND SOLO
WHICH TRAINING METHOD IS THE BEST?
JADON MILLER 05/08/2020
It’s a question that everyone has their own opinion on. What method of training a hunting dog is the best when it comes to pack, brace, and solo? There are different variables that come into play when considering each type. Some individuals may not have enough time to devote to soloing a dog. Others who have only one or two dogs may not have the option of running with a pack. However,
in this article the pros and cons involving each will be broken down.
First, let’s talk about what each is. Pack work is when more than two more dogs are being put on the ground to hunt. The more dogs there are, the more “pressure” there is on the dogs in the pack. Next is brace work. Brace work, or bracing dogs, is simply two dogs paired up. Then, of course, solo is when a dog is by itself.
When running in a pack, each dog within the pack has another dog to help it in finding the desired track. This means that the dogs in the pack may not have to work quite as hard to achieve success, or to keep the track moving forward. There are dogs that may not hunt when ran in a pack setting. They will set out in the open terrain area until they hear a dog strike. Once the track is struck, the dog that wasn’t hunting hard will run in and begin working the track. This can definitely teach a dog to be lazy when it comes to hunting in spots that are tough to find game or are super thick with thorns and thistles. On the flip side, a dog that stays involved while in a pack has more pressure put on it to perform. If the dog is slow in finding the track at a point of check, or loss, then another dog may find it and take it out. This could result in a dog getting left behind and having to hustle up to meet back up with the pack. This form of pressure can make a dog much better or make it stop hunting with the pack. Each dog is different. A dog that handles the pressure well is a pleasure to watch, especially when it’s in a large pack of hounds.
The next form of training that can be done is called brace, or bracing dogs together. This form of training doesn’t put as much pressure on a dog compared to pack training. This could help a dog that is falling out from the larger pack gain its confidence. Once this confidence is gained, you could try reintroducing the dog to the pack to see if it continues to stay with the pack. Another benefit of brace training is that it helps the dog with hunting and working on tough tracks. When the dog is being braced, there is only one other dog that could be finding the track or game. This means there is less help to find the track for the dogs involved in the hunt. With less help, the dogs must work harder to keep it going forward. If they don’t, then they will not keep the track going. A dog with grit will buckle down and work harder to keep it going because it has enough desire to run the track. A dog with less desire will not give it too much thought and will basically give up. This shows you important information if you are trying to breed a line of dogs that is determined and full of hunt. Keep this in mind.
The final form of training we will look at is solo training. Many people do not like this form of training simply because it is hard to get time on several dogs when you are only working one at a time. This is probably the biggest downfall of this type of training. I will say, though, that given the chance you will probably be impressed on the improvement that solo training can provide a dog. It is the most difficult form of training for a dog because it is by itself. If it wants to find a track, it better work to do so. This normally will make a dog with at least some will power dive into the brush and get to work. Once they have the track going it will have to continue to work hard to keep it going. There is no other help for them. This really brings the grit out in a dog. Once they get used to doing everything on their own, it is much easier for them. Pack in a few extra dogs with them, and it is that much easier. If you solo every dog in your pack, then add them back together in a pack, you would probably be amazed at how much improvement the whole pack made. Now, let’s talk about the downside. We already mentioned that it is tough to get time on several dogs when you are only running one at a time. The other thing that is bad about this form of training is that given too much solo time a dog could become very independent. It could become independent to the point that it will not pack up with your other dogs. The way to keep this from happening is to balance the time of solo and pack time put on a dog.
Now, which form is the best you might ask? It is hard to pick which one is best out of these three. Every dog has its strengths and weaknesses. You, as the trainer, must look at what a dog has. If it is being lazy, then solo it and see if it helps. If it is being too independent in a brace, then put it in a pack setting. If it is pretty well rounded in your mind, then just keep the time balanced between each of these types of training. Each form has its benefits. These are just tools in the arsenal. You must pick the right tool for the job, right? Exactly. These training methods are no different. You must pick the right ones for the dog in question. For most dogs though, the optimum situation will be a balanced amount of all of the above.
Keep those hounds in the field, and you will find out what works best for you. Until next time...