The Otterhound, referred to as a scent dog, was interbred with bloodhounds and Southern hounds for the specific purpose of tracking Otters in the United Kingdom. Though no longer used for this purpose, Otterhounds still enjoy hunting as an activity and hunt Mink in the U.K. They serve as a means to rid the farmer of these dreaded pests. In North America, they are used to hunt raccoons, bears and even mountain lions.
Of course since these scent hounds love hunting they would no doubt love agility training. Agility training originated in England around 1978; this sport for canines was borrowed from horse steeplechases, a jumping activity. Today this sport is very popular and is growing in leaps and bounds. Both large and small dogs can participate in the fun.
With agility Training, the Otterhound has the opportunity to jump, navigate through and around obstacles, climb obstacles and do some pole weaving (wearing or running in and out of vertical poles). For the Otterhound these activities are very much reminiscent of the great hunt.
The dog handler can accompany the dog through the course, and guide him by clapping, cheering or calling the dog, who runs without a leash. In competitions, the fastest dog who has successfully completed the course will win.
There are several types of jumps such as jumping hurdles, walls, different pole jumps and jumping water.
Contact obstacles are also called climbing obstacles; the animal must climb wooden surfaces and walk along the surface with the ultimate goal of touching a yellow contact mark to successfully complete the activity. These surfaces are not always flat; the teeter for example moves up and down like a teeter totter or seesaw.
Most beginners start with the contact obstacle known as an A Frame. They also learn to perform low jumps and maneuver the tunnels. In the beginning it might be difficult to steer your Otterhound away from the tunnels since he is most comfortable with them.
Of course your dog will need to learn control commands like sit and stay, or send away, meaning commanding him to go ahead of you to properly complete the agility course competition. These commands are learned before or during the first lesson.
Again, since Otterhounds were bred for hunting they are excellent trackers and love tracking activities. The object of the sport of tracking is to get your Otterhound to find the goal at the end of the track. Otterhounds can track on dry land or wet swampy areas, giving the advantage over other dog breeds. A problem with all tracking activities regards climate, a wind can change the smell of the object being tracked by moving it around and confusing the dogs. It is best to do short runs when it is windy.
Simple things such as time of day, for example, whether you track in the early morning or must present yourself in the middle of night at track will have effects upon the dog's ability to track and the handler that trains him.