Treeing Walker Coonhounds are loving, intelligent, confident, and enjoy interacting with humans.
They make a splendid companion dog for an owner who understands the characteristics of the breed and is willing to work with their in-bred nature as a hunting dog. On the scent, they are tireless, alert, and intense. At home; they are mellow, sensitive lovers of comfort.
They like having their own kennel or other space into which they can retreat at will, if provided with pillows and blankets, as they love to nest. Owners have noted that "getting a Walker hound out of a bed, off a couch or away from a fireplace will be a feat in itself."
Treeing Walker Coonhounds get along exceptionally well with other dogs and with children. Like most hounds, they are even-tempered and difficult to annoy or drive into aggression towards people or fellow dogs. With careful introduction, they will even live in happy harmony with the family cat, despite their nature as a small-game hunter.
They are very energetic when young, and some people can be alarmed by their tendency to stand up on their hind legs to pursue their curiosity or to bark urgently out of a desire to meet a new dog.
Walkers can be highly focused and idiosyncratically attracted to certain toys, locations, people, sounds, or objects. They will attempt to steal attractive items, and females in particular may maintain several caches of licit and illicit items. One recommended training regimen to encourage self-control is to repeatedly give and take back a toy to be held in their mouth, or to make them sit and wait for a treat or their food calmly until told to take it. Because of their nature as hunting dogs, they can become possessive of any human food they manage to steal, particularly raw meat, and rare outbursts of growling or aggression are often associated with the defense of their prize.
These hounds respond even more poorly than most dogs to being physically punished, for instance by hitting or grabbing them. Habitual punishment can lead to instinctive trust and personality defects, such as shyness, reclusiveness, or trepidation. Erratic conditioning is principally the reason why these behavioral problems develop, as these dogs are highly perceptive and motivated by pain. For that reason, a static e-collar, particularly the warning tone, is an extremely effective training tool for this breed, especially for off-leash and boundary training. Upon hearing the warning tone they will immediately come to attention, without fail, even while on a scent. With proper training these dogs can be exceptionally obedient and loyal.
However, it is important to reiterated that their psyche is as complex and delicate as a human child. For instance, if you call them to come after they did something wrong and they come, you can't get angry at them, otherwise they'll refuse to come altogether. Another example is letting them pull while on a leash, under no circumstance should they ever be allowed to pull on a leash, because it misleads them into believing they are in charge. If this is allowed it will become very difficult to work with them off leash, as they will believe they are pack leader and take point on any scents they find interesting.
Much as a child would, they will test limits they don't agree with, at minimum Treeing Walker Owners should have a larged fenced in area for them of 5'-6' in height and very secure.
Walker Coonhounds are very rewarding companions with effective training. Substantial time for daily exercise and interaction is also necessary. If the hound is kept as a pet and not trained, even the most loving, well-behaved Walker cannot be allowed off-leash in an area without a high fence. Their "treeing" behavior makes them capable of scaling fences in excess of 6 feet (1.8 m).
A secure yard alone will not provide the long walks, intenseexercise, and "adventures" they require. Their nature is to run freely and for great distances, and they can be oblivious to commands when trailing a scent, much like a beagle or basset hound. Chasing after them provokes the pack-hunting response, and faster running. Strays are often found to have wandered as much as 50 miles from home in a relatively short time.
On-leash hikes in a variety of settings are needed for a Walker kept as a pet, as well as the opportunity to run hard off-leash in a confined space.
Personality traits are highly adaptable through classical and operand conditioning. They
make excellent alert dogs, as even the smallest female has the vocal presence of a much larger animal. They instinctually bay and growl when they believe their territory is being
encroached on, and intruders who have not seen the animal would believe a massive guard dog is within a residence. Even when face to face with an intruder their bay commands respect, and can be heard at great distances.
As hunting dogs they are bred to corner game, into a tree, and then alert a hunter, they do not instinctively attack prey or potential intruders, so with modern animal control laws this is very beneficial.
This breed is highly intelligent, and consequently they require absolute consistency of training, as they look for loopholes to exploit. They may attempt to negotiate, responding to human direction by offering an alternative course of action they prefer. They are close observers of human behavior and learn to respond to subtle gestures and a large number of words, though not always in a manner that the human might desire or predict. Their intelligence is thus sometimes underestimated or misunderstood. Because they enjoy interacting with people, teaching them commands and tricks will help prevent the boredom that leads to bad behavior. They have been known to use objects as tools or to manipulate their environment to accomplish a task (e.g., moving furniture to climb over gates, using household objects to manipulate kennel mechanisms, etc.). They prefer complicated toys to simple chew-toys. They are most engaged by toys meant to be taken apart or stuffed with smaller toys, a toy that makes a variety of sounds, or toys with a hard-to-obtain treat inside.