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Thread: Tracking
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 02-13-2008, 11:02 PM
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Originally Posted by red_dobe_syd View Post
1. How do you approach the square? Do you heel the dog to it and then make a command "search" once you get to the edge?

2. Is there an order of searching the dog should do? like: Closest to furthest side of the square? Do you make a correction if she skips a few pieces or point them out?

3. When the food is all gone, she still was adimently looking for more, sniffing deep in the grass, when/how do you make her stop? Just pull her out, make her heel, reward with a treat from you hand and congratulate her?

Any suggestions?
In the beginning I keep everything pretty informal- I don't insist on a lot of obedience at the track, I want to see them start recognizing the situation (ie. actively sniffing for the track) and really wanting to track first. I take the dog to the scent pad and encourage them to search out the food. I may even point at first, but I try to wean them off any body language other than a verbal command very quickly. There's no order to searching on the square, but once you start tracking footsteps I really want to see a methodical footstep to footstep search. At the end of the track I usually put a pile of food, which causes them to stop and eat it. When they finish the last piece, I give a release command, and then gently pull them off the track and encourage them to focus on me, whether it be for food or toy. Only once they start recognizing the pattern, and start searching, do I ask them to heel to the track (or sit and pay attention first) or heel off the track at the end. You have to be careful- if you have a dog that doesn't have a lot of motivation for the track, too much obedience too soon can bring their drives down for tracking. Remember that tracking requires the dog to work independently from the handler. Lots of obedience causes the dog to focus on the handler, not the track. It's a common mistake- handler brings dog out of the car, dog is trying to drag handler to the track because he's so excited to get to it. Handler insists that the dog heel, it takes a bit to get the dog focused on the handler- by the time the handler is happy with the obedience, the dog's almost forgotten about the track. Keep it short and sweet.

Jessica Wilcock, DVM
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