Okay, I have a question. When do you start phasing out the "food in every step" routine?
The purpose of the food is to teach the dog to keep their heads down. Until you build a habit strong enough, keep the food on the track. Take the opportunity while the track is fully baited to show the dog all kinds of terrain, hills, turns, serpentines, etc. With food in each footstep you can help your dog thru difficult transitions and build their confidence.
A harness is
allowed on sch tracks, as well as the botchinger (or however you spell it). Most just prefer not to use it.
"For the Tracking phase the dog may wear a harness in addition to the choke collar or a vest"
"The line may be attached to the dead ring of the collar or on the harness ring (permitted are harness and Böttger-harnesses, without additional straps)." from the IPO rules
A sch dog can retrieve the articles, however most choose not to because the restarts are incredibly important, and it is far simpler for the dog and handler to restart with the dog already on the track, calm and focused, rather than exuberant over a retrieve.
"When called the handler (HF) is to report to the judge (LR) at the basic position and advised whether his dog picks up
The rules also say this, which is fairly contradictory:
"As soon as the dog finds an article, he has to pick it up or indicate it without any influence from the handler. He can stand, sit or return to the handler when picking up the article. Moving forward or lying down is considered faulty. The indication can be done lying down, sitting or standing (alternating is permitted).Once the dog has indicated or picked up the article, the handler then drops the line and goes to his dog." from the IPO rules.
Ooohhh ok, I think what it means is if the dog picks up the article it can sit or stand or return, but if it picks it up and lies down or picks it up and moves forward, that is faulty.