A common problem when training coon hounds today is that of slick treeing or making trees that are empty. However, I am going to give you some tips I’ve used to break coon dogs from slick treeing. For beginners, you need to know your coon dog. What I mean is that you need to know how your hound will react to punishment.
If you have a timid coon hound then please proceed carefully. With coon dogs that have this type of personality I will usually just completely ignore them when they slick tree. I will simply walk up to the tree and leash them without saying a word. I will then search the tree for a raccoon. If it is obvious the tree is slick then I will just got untie the dog and walk away from the tree. The most scolding I will do to this dog might be a harsh word.
However, for this method to work you have to do the opposite when they do in fact tree a raccoon. But always approach them in the same calm manner at each tree. Walk up leash them and tie them back. After you find a coon, you can untie the dog, but keep it leashed, and let them get back on the tree. Once they are back on the tree treeing then pet them up and use a encouraging tone to let them know that you are praising them.
If you have a hardheaded type of coon hound then you will need to take a different more direct approach. This also works on older dogs that need a tune up. From my experience, young coon hounds will often try to be “lazy” and might looking slick for an easy way out such as pulling up short because the track got to tough to work. These coon hounds just need a little reminder sometimes. I recommend you approaching the hound just as mentioned earlier. After you have decided that the tree is empty find you a good switch. You can also use an extra leash if you use only the leather part, don’t hit a coon dog with the chain. Give them a few swats and some stern “no’s” and then immediately walk them away from the tree and recast them.
For this method to be effective you need to make them tree a coon. You want to be able to praise them. Eventually they will realize it is better and easier for everyone if they just try to have the coon when they tree. Keep in mind that no dog can ever be 100% accurate at treeing coons. If you coon hounds are consistently treeing coons over 70% of the time then you are doing great. I have had some coon hounds that literally seemed to never miss a raccoon while others were close to fifty-fifty or worse.
I should also mention that bloodlines tend to influence the slick treeing some as well. I’ve been fortunate to own some of both so I can speak from experience. However, I strongly feel that almost any coon hound can be trained to lessen their slick trees. So I hope these tips will help you while training your coon hounds.