Awesome! How about a recap of your training history for the title? I'd love to know how others achieve their goals.
We've been taking private lessons since August 2011. Some people might not need a tracking coach, but I could not have gotten this far without one (and, fortunately, we have a great one). Since that first lesson, we've had a total of 26 lessons. Took 2.5 months off during the winter and some time off this summer when it was 90 degrees plus. Also time off for vacations, after her spay, eye injury, etc. We've been training in various locations (forest preserves) and in various lengths and types of cover. Trained in cold, hot, windy and rainy weather. Worked change of cover, tree lines, and crossing animal paths as we got better. Articles we've used: pot holders, stuffed animals, gloves. hats.
From the beginning, we didn't use food on the track except for some treats at the end of the track on top of the article. However, at one point in our training, Maiya started to struggle at turns. So we went back to double-laid tracks at the turns and added treats at the turns for several lessons.
Some notes I took which shows our progression that first summer and fall:
In July 2011, I attended a training workshop where we were able to practice on a few short, straight tracks. Maiya did well so the instructor added a turn to her last track.
Aug. 2011 (first lesson). 3 short (20-60 yards) double-laid tracks and 1 single-laid track.
Sept. 2011: Maiya was sufficiently motivated because she followed the track through a clump of sticker bushes without much/any hestitation.
Oct. 2011: track: 470 yards aged for 40 minutes
Nov. 2011: 413 yards. aged 41 minutes. 4 turns
Dec. 2011: 205 yards. aged 1 hour.
We've been taking Nosework classes for 2 years - which I assume has also helped.