Uh, I'm pretty sure I spotted two rabbits hopping across the grass in the background of this video. In that situation, I know exactly what our guy would have been doing. Good for Eva for being so focused on the track that she didn't even notice them!
Thanks for posting these videos. Very interesting.
Lol, that is one thing that I have never allowed. Any kind of animal chasing while working. If we are on an off leash hike, go on, have fun. If we are working, nope can't go. My responses will be in blue here.
Great thread! Just got to read through it.
I have taken a short break from training (about a month) because I am so busy, but I did a few tracks this week so here is where we are now...
I am also at two different stages in tracking with my boys. Diego- the Bouvier is now 10 months (still in the "intro to tracking" phase) and Hans is 2, doing an IPO 1 track. It seems that I got lucky with Hans as he seems to be a natural tracker. The problem I have with him is not doing enough variety...I don't feel that his tracking is really reliable yet. He indicates very well, consistent with his tracking speed...but I would like to see him be more confident on the legs.
Diego (due to me being a lazy handler) has taken a few steps back in tracking...he is young so I expected that. He is very eager, but impatient...will miss quite a bit of food and has a somewhat of a high nose in between food. He is still very immature and is so-so about food (some days he's crazy for it, others not so much). I am now laying tracks with more food, and food closer together...we'll see how that goes.
One of the main reasons I haven't been tracking as much as I should is because I don't know what is a good place to track and what isn't. I have always thought you were supposed to track in the morning when it is damp...but who can do that consistently?? So I guess one of my questions is, is it okay to track on a dry grassy field? If so, how do you alter the way you lay your track on different conditions?
You should really prepare for everything. Most small trials allow for everyone to track before it gets hot and dry out, but that isn't possible at a big trial. I used to only track in the early morning. Then, once I was invited to track with a friend but she could only go at 3pm. It was winter so the temp wasn't an issue, but I can say that Eva wasn't used to tracking anytime except for morning she had no idea what was expected and what I really wanted her to do. It was a terrible track but I learned a good lesson. Now I track all throughout the day. Early, mid day, late.
As for conditions, it depends. New trackers, like the puppy (now 9ish months old) I keep it pretty easy still. Not super dry, not super hard, not super hot. My footsteps are fairly close together and she is still on food in every footstep. She doesn't pick up every piece, but she checks every footstep.
Older and more expereinced dogs get harder conditions. Drier grass, harder dirt, obstacles. The harder it is, the more food I use. Sometimes I will go through a bush or shrub of some kind and I will bait it pretty heavy to get them used to going through. Over logs and roads same thing.
I have a few more questions for IPO tracking folks...
How do you step when you lay your track? Does this vary on the corners?
Again, it depends. For young dogs I step close together until they get the hang of checking. The older they get, the more space I step. It can also vary on an individual track. I might walk normal for part of the track, then make 10 really big and far apart steps.
For the IPO1 you get to lay your own track. For IPO2 and 3 someone else lays it. Lots of times they step nice and even and straight, but sometimes you get that drunk tracklayer or hungover tracklayer that just stumbles along, lol. Your dog has to be exposed to that just in case.
Same thing holds true for corners. I start with rails (essentially dragging my feet) to make a very easy corner. As they get more expereince I make all kinds of coners. Curves, 5 step corners, 90% corners, big step corners, you name it. You never know how the corner is going to be at a trial so you may as well do variations. The harder the tracking conditions, the easier I make my corners. I usually try to just work one problem at a time. Either getting expereince with tougher tracking conditions or working on tougher corners. I try not to do multiple difficulties all at once.
What type of food do you use and why? I have had a trainer tell me to use kibble or dried lamb lung because it doesn't have a strong scent and it will encourage the dog to actually smell the track. My current trainer uses hot dogs which have a strong scent...the dogs are enthusiastic about tracking but I worry they are not really paying attention to the track itself.
I use natrual balance rolled treats. Blends in with the dirt so it isn't such a visual and tastes good. For a while, when Fenja was young her food drive isn't what it is now and I used all kinds of things. Cheese, meatballs, chicken, even sardines although never again (they made my hands stink for a day). Use what works for your dog.
Where do you track? What would you recommend in finding good places to track?
Locationally, I am in a good region for tracking. In the summer I track in plowed dirt as there is a lot of agriculture here. Or in vacant lots that are disked (to keep fire danger low).
In winter (our rainy season) grass grows everywhere so any vacant lot or open space works for a while. The grass that grows out here is pretty nice.
If using a crop field, make sure that the farmer is ok with it. I have heard of people getting chased off with a shotgun before. Hasn't happened with me, but I know some farmers and have permission.
Lots of questions, but I'll take any answers I can get! I really enjoy tracking so I would love to hear different ways of doing things.