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Old 02-17-2012, 06:44 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Slowly but surely getting there.

Here's a short video of our first track this morning. 40+40yds single laid, aged 25 mins , one corner. This is our 3rd week of tracking practice and we track on sandy soil.


Maggie tracking.mov - YouTube


It's still work in progress, but a few things I need to work on are

1. Keeping Maggie engaged on the track. She's getting much much better as we practice but occasionally she looks up to see what's going on around, or wanders off after another scent.
2. Keeping her head down all the time. As you can see in the video she sometimes follows the track with her head quite high, maybe she's visually following the track but does put her nose back don after a bit. I think I need to age the tracks a bit more, maybe 25-30 mins isn't enough and there is so much scent that she doesn't need to keep her head down.
3. Corners. I stood on a bit of hamburger meat right at the corner and then walked around the corner where I buried a small bit, I think she got too focussed on the meat smell at the corner and spent a lot of time there.

She responds to encouragement well and comes back on track when I encourage her, so I'm happy about that.

There were quite a few dog/human crosstracks (before I laid my track) and I think she handled them quite well.

She did the last two tracks much cleaner but I didn't record those :-(


Any advice/critique welcome.

Last edited by pfitzpa1; 02-17-2012 at 06:50 PM.
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Old 02-17-2012, 07:01 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Are you tracking her for fun, or for sport?

The reason I ask is, the #1 "No, No" in tracking for sport, is to track where the footsteps are going to be blantantly obvious.

All of the things you mentioned (head keeps coming up, engagement) are all caused by the dog using their eyes first. When they have to rely 100% on their nose, they will keep it to the ground.

In the video I don't see a lot of "tracking", she seems to be looking for the footprints with the meat and smelling the track off and on to make sure she doesn't miss a piece. When she does, she turns back to get it.

I would find grassy areas of varying length and try again there. Food should be in each foot step to start (you can use a PVC pipe long enough to go from hand to foot for ease of food placement) then track her. Easy track first so she understands that you are asking her to use her nose, not her eyes (She may sniff a bit then look up at you, unsure of what you want) Encourage her and keep indicating to the track. Slowly wean her off every step as she progresses while maintaining her nose to the ground. If she is moving forward and comes off the track (either just side steps or goes to smell something else) stop moving and wait until she gets back on the track before letting her move forward again.

Hope this helps!

Last edited by N Smith; 02-17-2012 at 07:08 PM.
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Old 02-17-2012, 08:24 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by N Smith View Post
Are you tracking her for fun, or for sport?

The reason I ask is, the #1 "No, No" in tracking for sport, is to track where the footsteps are going to be blantantly obvious.

All of the things you mentioned (head keeps coming up, engagement) are all caused by the dog using their eyes first. When they have to rely 100% on their nose, they will keep it to the ground.

In the video I don't see a lot of "tracking", she seems to be looking for the footprints with the meat and smelling the track off and on to make sure she doesn't miss a piece. When she does, she turns back to get it.

I would find grassy areas of varying length and try again there. Food should be in each foot step to start (you can use a PVC pipe long enough to go from hand to foot for ease of food placement) then track her. Easy track first so she understands that you are asking her to use her nose, not her eyes (She may sniff a bit then look up at you, unsure of what you want) Encourage her and keep indicating to the track. Slowly wean her off every step as she progresses while maintaining her nose to the ground. If she is moving forward and comes off the track (either just side steps or goes to smell something else) stop moving and wait until she gets back on the track before letting her move forward again.

Hope this helps!

Thanks, valuable input,

I hadn't thought about it as "sport" per se, I'm doing it as a something for me and the dog to do that is enjoyable and outdoorsie and maybe do a trial with our schutzhund club.

BTW I'm using Glen Johnstons Tracking book as my "guide".

I'm not sure exactly how much visual vs. how much nose she is using and I suspect it is a bit of both, but there is definitely a lot of nosework going on. The only food drops I had were at the start, just past the corner, and the big drop at the article. When I do use food drops I have to bury them otherwise the crows and seagulls wil steal them. If she found anything else it was probably left overs from other trackers (or me :-) ) (the area is used by at least 3 different trackers that I know).
At around 40 seconds she attempted to go down a cross track but came back onto my track after a few feet, so while visually she may decided to follow the cross track, she came back to my track with her nose (at least that's how I read it).
I've been overlooking the use of sight for now because I'm focusing on getting her into to the game. My intent was to wean her of any sight assistance when we start tracking across other surfaces. My tracks are forced stomps with a slight shuffle so that definitely that makes them easier to see. My plan next week week is to walk lightly/normally when laying the tracks.


Regarding the "stop moving and wait until she gets back on the track ", that's what I have been doing. With the corner I also do like Glenn Johnston suggests and follow the track to the corner letting her go as far of track as the current length of line allows but stopping at the corner facing the same direction and wait for her to find the second leg.


Interestingly enough our schutzhund club does all its tracking trials in the same location and the club tracking expert recommended not to train in grass if I was going to trial in sand.

Thanks again.
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Old 02-17-2012, 08:27 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I like the PVC pipe idea!!!
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Old 02-17-2012, 11:55 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I would slow her down some. I agree with putting more food down on the track. You want the dog to check each footstep and to do that you need to teach her there might be food in each one. Track her in the morning before she eats.
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Old 02-18-2012, 12:36 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy-jr. View Post
I would slow her down some. I agree with putting more food down on the track. You want the dog to check each footstep and to do that you need to teach her there might be food in each one. Track her in the morning before she eats.
That's how I started her on week 1, 6 days of short straight (<100 yds) tracks, 3 tracks each in a set, running each set twice. Treats every few steps.

Week 2 was pretty much the same but with aging of the tracks and switching tracks with another track layer (friend who is also training his dog).

At the middle/end of week 2 she was ignoring (or finding missing) many of the treats so I started weaning.

On week 3, introduction of corners, ( only the second leg has treats).

I agree she needs to slow down, the problem I have with using treats is that I have to bury each one (because of scavenging crows and seagulls) so she spends a lot of time digging up treats, which I'm not a fan of as I think this extra digging "might" be distractive. (I'm fine with one every 10 yds or so). I think she already realizes where the payload is, as she has been ignoring many of the food drops since week 2. Also the crows and seagulls are getting crafty and have figured out how to dig up some of the treats so in many cases she has scented a food drop and found nothing.

The darn crows even stole my friends sock article with treats inside.

It's quite funny to see about 10 crows walking a track and executing the turn perfectly.

We lay tracks at 6AM every morning, and run the dogs about 6:30AM. Since just before the first week I have cut her regular food intake in half, no evening feeding on days before tracking.


What do you think about switching from harness to collar with leash running along underbelly? I saw some posts that indicated that this might be a good way to keep the dogs head down and slow the dog down.

I'm also hoping that she will naturally slow down as the tracks get harder and are aged more, but that might be blind optimism on my part.

Last edited by pfitzpa1; 02-18-2012 at 12:41 AM.
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Old 02-19-2012, 03:14 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by N Smith View Post
Are you tracking her for fun, or for sport?

The reason I ask is, the #1 "No, No" in tracking for sport, is to track where the footsteps are going to be blantantly obvious.

All of the things you mentioned (head keeps coming up, engagement) are all caused by the dog using their eyes first. When they have to rely 100% on their nose, they will keep it to the ground.

In the video I don't see a lot of "tracking", she seems to be looking for the footprints with the meat and smelling the track off and on to make sure she doesn't miss a piece. When she does, she turns back to get it.

I would find grassy areas of varying length and try again there. Food should be in each foot step to start (you can use a PVC pipe long enough to go from hand to foot for ease of food placement) then track her. Easy track first so she understands that you are asking her to use her nose, not her eyes (She may sniff a bit then look up at you, unsure of what you want) Encourage her and keep indicating to the track. Slowly wean her off every step as she progresses while maintaining her nose to the ground. If she is moving forward and comes off the track (either just side steps or goes to smell something else) stop moving and wait until she gets back on the track before letting her move forward again.

Hope this helps!


So I did 3 "test" tracks this morning, a 40 yd double laid, a 80 yd single straight and an 80 yd single aid with corner. No aging.

I walked "normally" or as lightly as I could. The first double laid track was somewhat visible but the other two were barely noticeable. There was a lot of much older cross tracks.

She had trouble on all 3 tracks, less on the double laid because she was able to re-find the track much easier when she went off, but on the single laid tracks she was definitely lost. With a lot of encouragement and pointing at the track she was able to complete the 2 single laid tracks but it definitely wasn't easy. By the end of the 3rd track she was tracking about 10yds of track, would veer off or lose interest, then track again for another 10 yds after I indicated the track to her.

So I believe you were correct, she was following the visible track in the video, perhaps using her nose on occasion to confirm that she was on the correct track.

So I'm going to reset a bit and go back to the start of week 1 in Glen Johnstons book, but using very lite (or normal) tracks with treats in as many steps as possible.

Thanks again, this was a bit of an eyeopener for me and I'm glad we caught it this early.
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Old 02-29-2012, 07:05 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Try to track short, sweet, correct.

Every dog is different, so perform at the speed at which your dog can be precise.

Try to get someone experienced to help you, so your foundation work is correct, it will save you lots of headaches down the road.
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