Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Why I love it
While this post explains abit how I train for tracking I am NOT an expert tracker by any means. All dogs are different and therefore methods may vary considerably. There are many ways to train tracking and scent work, this is only one method. You do not need to use food to train for tracking. For some great tracking books for beginners through advanced check out http://www.pawmark.com/ (They also have awesome gear.)
Today was Jenny's third time out. So far I have been doing easy stuff, using food rewards in some of the footsteps on short straight unaged tracks with the wind blowing towards us. I do three in a row with a rest in between for her while I lay the next one. First thing in the morning with dew on the grass which is best for keeping the scent in. As I went to lay the first track this morning I noticed I didn't have my usual starting flags. Oops, I had left them in the field after our last track yesterday morning. So after we were done today I drove over to that field and retrieved them. Fortunately it wasn't far. We ended the day with me only using food in every 9th step. Eventually I will phase the food out completely but for now this helps her learn she has a reason to find and stay on the scent path. I think my biggest challenge with her is going to be keeping her from going to fast. She is motivated!
She is doing amazingly well. I need to call my tracking friends (who know FAR more than I on the subject) to come watch us and correct any mistakes I may be making. I know yesterday I screwed up the first track by wearing my bait bag. She kept looking at me for direction before I realized why. (bait bag usually means heeling practice to her hence the looking up at me) Fortunatly I corrected it on the next two tracks which went very well. I do need to get some new bigger flags because she is skittish of real moving flags. I currently use sticks with surveyors tape as markers but if we ever go advanced she will need to be ok near real flags blowing in wind. (note to self, buy or make real flag markers!)
While driving home after training today I got to thinking why I love tracking so much. For me it is private one on one time with my dog in a relaxed manner. Having 3 dogs this one on one time is special. They also get to do something that comes naturally to them, finding scent, and they are allowed to follow their nose instead of having to do something less exciting to them. It is in the woods or a field with nature all around, a place I love to be. And when you get to the point where you might try for a title, EVERYONE roots for you and your dog. It isn't competitive. We all want to see the dogs succeed. No one beats anyone else. I REALLY like that. Honestly I could care less if I ever title. Not to say I wouldn't LOVE to earn one, it just isn't my overall goal. The act of doing something fun with my dog is why I do it.
It has been fun this week seeing and working with a dog that really wants to track. Jack is lovely but not the most motivated about it. Could I work on that with him? Probably, but I am not about to make a dog do something he doesn't really enjoy. Tracking is about working as a team. A good team listens to each other. I'll keep tracking him, but on his terms. One track at a time.
Posted by Marie at 2:40 PM