The Difficulties and Joys of Owning a Catahoula Leopard Dog
Is a Catahoula Right For You?
OUR JOURNEY: Our Catahoula, Owly, has officially been our baby for eight months today. We found her as a pup at our local Humane Society, when her name was Valentine. I renamed her Owly one night soon after this when I realized all I could see in my dark kitchen were her two little eyes peering out. I was reminded of those spooky woods scenes in movies, in which an owl's eyes might be the only thing seen in the dark, scary woods.
TEMPERMENT: Let me just say, I love our Owly and would not trade her for anything, BUT, had I read up on her breed prior to acquiring her, I may have thought twice about owning a Catahoula. I wouldn't have felt I was prepared for her personality. Almost every webpage speaks the energetic, stubborn and willful nature of this breed. I can't argue. She is the most persistent dog I've ever met. If she was a telemarketer, I'd buy two dozen of whatever she was selling just to get her off the phone. Our dog uses every loophole to her advantage (I finally have taught her that barking will get her nowhere; although the moment I give in the cycle begins again). You cannot give in! Catahoulas are a great family pet, however. She is wonderful with kids, and we did introduce her early on, so this might be a factor. She is never aggressive, only playful and is friendly with all strangers.
I read somewhere that a Catahoula often behaves as if they themselves are the owner. I would like to say two things on this matter: 1) The Catahoula is a special dog to own and once bonded with, you are under their spell. So in a sense, yes, the Catahoula has mysterious ways of which I know not. In fact, in a recent visit to the vet, a doctor who was not assisting us "just had to come over" to see the "part angel/ part demon Catahoula" that keeps her so spellbound. 2) In part, however, I also disagree. I have found that our dog is strong willed, yes, but is ever so dependent upon feeling a part of the pack. She sleeps at our feet if we let her in the bed (this is a submissive position), she waits up with me until I've finished my work and then follows me to bed. She rarely pulls on the leash, and she even lets us brush her teeth (Her daddy is a dentist).
CRATING: Our dog has always been great with us crating her when necessary. She has even made it her own home. However, we do take her to a daycare weekdays from 7am-6pm as we both work, so she gets to run herself worn. However, she HATES being left at home when she knows we're off on an adventure. She loves car rides to the dog park, which is where she imagines we are going, to have fun without her. Man she has stamina and can outrun almost every dog there! At home, she is okay with lounging around, generally, but at times I have to keep her entertained or she will sniff out trouble. She loves eating everything: fuzz, paper, gum, rocks-- you name it. She also loves to chew through every toy we give her. It's gotten to the point that we can't give her anything with stuffing and certainly nothing that can be torn (i.e. fabrics). When she was younger, she ate the stuffing and backed up her intestinal tract. Hello vet bill! The brand of toys " manufacturers have generally been okay for her. Kong"
DIET: This brings us to her diet. We have tried many foods for our dog. She began to lose a patch of fur near her muzzle and we realized she was allergic to something we were feeding her. The vet recommended we put her on a hypo-allergenic diet, but I couldn't bare feeding her cardboard if it wasn't 100% necessary. We have had much success with . We believe the problem was caused by either Fromm or Fuel, two of the foods which gave her very loose stools. a limited diet food by Natural Balance
TRAINING: Our dog responds to one thing more than anything: treats! She loves treats and has learned many tricks from the doling out of these goodies. Besides this magic ingredient, consistency and repetition are key. Train your dog many times throughout the day to do the trick you want. Also, be sure to praise at the exact moment the dog is listening and to object at the very moment the dog is misbehaving. If you wait, the dog will be confused as to what behavior you are referring to. We took our dog to training sessions and they were lifesaving. Our dog learned very quickly with steady training and she remembers the tricks even when time has passed without practice.
CONCLUSION: Well, in short, I can admit I am glad I did not know of the willful way of the Catahoula. Our dog's sweet nature (she gives hugs daily), intelligence, and energy are just what I needed to keep me on my toes. And that's a place you'll learn to love if you find yourself the owner of a Catahoula. Great luck and best wishes.