I have a 7.5 year old red-tick coonhound. Although I am not a hunter, I take him for three walks per day, usually between 1 and 1.5 hours each (with the exception of the 3rd walk which is just an evening stroll). He's usually pretty content with this, but I worry that he is not getting enough mental stimulation since I can't take him hunting. Does anyone have ideas on how to entertain him in a different way than walking/jogging?


  • What games do you play with him in the day? Dogs older than 3 tend to lose a lot of their 'play' need and calm down, but there are games that can entertain a dogs natural needs.
    – Aravona
    Oct 23, 2015 at 9:53
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    You may want to search around on our site for ideas we have some interesting ideas like What is a “Barn Hunt”? Oct 23, 2015 at 10:27
  • @Aravona That's the thing- since he's older, and (I'm guessing because he's a scent hound) not really interested in playing fetch, he doesn't seem too excited about typical dog games. Any ideas on games specific to the coonhound breed maybe? I have heard you can buy raccoon urine and use that to exercise the hunting instinct. Not sure how humane the raccoon urine industry is though lol
    – Ian
    Oct 23, 2015 at 15:23
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    @Ian you can do scent games with a toy even... Just something that's got a smell he loves. You can also buy scent markers online from fox hunt websites (they mark a scent trail for the hounds to chase instead of a fox) when I've time I'll write up an answer.
    – Aravona
    Oct 23, 2015 at 15:25

1 Answer 1


There are a few ways to keep older dogs who are less inclined to play happy and invested in a more natural need satisfaction - we have a Shetland sheepdog and he'll likely never herd sheep but he gets occupied with other activities.

Firstly we take him geocaching a lot - this involves plenty of walking but he's gotten very used to helping find the geocaches as they're usually all plastic and start to smell the same (even to a human nose they smell like musty damp paper etc). This isn't a trail but when we're in the right area and start looking around he loves hunting around in the undergrowth as much as we do!

You can purchase animal scents online and do a trail in your own garden every now and again if it's big enough, hiding a good treat or toy at the end of it (fox urine is a common purchase in the UK as it's replaced actual fox hunts). Though urine scents will linger, so to create a fresh trail it'll be best to either water your garden or wait until a dry spell after some rain. You could feasibly do this with a really smelly treat instead of a scent but I'm not sure how well it would work (he might cut a few corners if it's too pungent?)

You could take a dog to agility, it's mentally stimulating as the dogs have to perform specific tasks. Usually you'd start this at a year old (you should wait for complete bone development before starting on this) but old dogs can learn new tricks.

James Jenkins mentioned the Barn Hunts and that's also a great other options and the link he gave gives a brilliant answer to how that works: What is a "Barn Hunt"?

Another option is to possibly take him hunt training, you don't actually have to take him hunting itself. My sister has a gun dog whose currently a young puppy and she's due to go to training as a retriever for pheasants. There are courses about if you can find one near you - you may find he enjoys it and you can possibly spark some ideas for how to entertain him better based on this.

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