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Old 04-21-2012, 10:05 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default 2nd tracking lesson some questions for the pros?

Is it harder for a dog to follow a strangers steps than the owner?

Benny had his 2nd tracking lesson yesterday and was very distracted. It was a new park, with new people and the weather was our first hot day. The trainer laid the track so it was the first time he was asked to scent footprints that were not mine.
He eventually made it to the article so we ended on a good note. The trainer said that his ob training has him so focused on me that he keeps looking at me for direction but she gave me good tips on how to proceed!


Today I laid three tracks, a 30 yard straight, 30 and 50 yard with a turn and he did great. I noticed by the last track that he is not really interested in the food drops. He just wants to get to the end where the big reward is! When he got to the article ( a sock with a treat) he picked it up and gave it to me. I then gave him a treat from the sock and more from my bag. We had a party!

What do people do about birds stealing food?

Last week Benny was about 10 yards and closing on on the glove that had his reward of a hot dog and suddenly a crow ( reminded me of an orc from Lord of the Rings) swooped down and took off with the hot dog. I had Benny's tug with me and rewarded him by letting him win a game of tug and strut home with the toy.
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Old 04-21-2012, 11:04 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Is it harder for a dog to follow a strangers steps than the owner?

Benny had his 2nd tracking lesson yesterday and was very distracted. It was a new park, with new people and the weather was our first hot day. The trainer laid the track so it was the first time he was asked to scent footprints that were not mine.
He eventually made it to the article so we ended on a good note. The trainer said that his ob training has him so focused on me that he keeps looking at me for direction but she gave me good tips on how to proceed!


Today I laid three tracks, a 30 yard straight, 30 and 50 yard with a turn and he did great. I noticed by the last track that he is not really interested in the food drops. He just wants to get to the end where the big reward is! When he got to the article ( a sock with a treat) he picked it up and gave it to me. I then gave him a treat from the sock and more from my bag. We had a party!

What do people do about birds stealing food?

Last week Benny was about 10 yards and closing on on the glove that had his reward of a hot dog and suddenly a crow ( reminded me of an orc from Lord of the Rings) swooped down and took off with the hot dog. I had Benny's tug with me and rewarded him by letting him win a game of tug and strut home with the toy.
Birds, Crows & Seagulls were a big issue for me too. I tried burying/covering the drops a little but this distracted the dog from the track too much as she was digging out every drop.
Birds go by sight not smell, so In the end I used cat kibble as the food drops. My dog loves them and they are the same color as the dirt, so harder for the birds to see.

One morning I laid a track only to turn around when I was finished to see three crows walking up and down the track I had just laid. They even moved the glove I was using as an article (with treats inside) by several yards. And one flew away with a small cotton glove I was using (so I learned to always carry a spare article so there is always something to find).
I also noticed that the birds were more hungry early in the morning (sunrise) and not so much later in the day, so you could try adjusting your tracking time. I noticed also that a hawk started hanging around our tracking field, which seemed to help also.

If you are putting down drops every stop then any bird is going to find them.

Not much help, unfortunately.
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Old 04-22-2012, 08:58 AM   #3 (permalink)
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are you doing SchH style tracking or AKC? if its SchH i would try to keep him from picking up the sock and giving to you, he should be indicating it by laying down on it. and then looking at you for the food reward. there are different tecniques, all depending on how serious your going to be in competing or just for fun. if your doing it just for fun, i guess it doesn't matter. In AKC tracking they just have to indicate with nose or ackowledging it, not sure picking it up would be allowed in AKC. it is alot of fun though, so enjoy!
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Old 04-22-2012, 10:42 AM   #4 (permalink)
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are you doing SchH style tracking or AKC? i\!

We are doing AKC and I our trainer just told me it is fine if he picks it up.

Is it common for a dog who is just in the very beginning stages to find it harder to follow a stranger laid track? He follows the ones I lay easily, but when the trainer laid the track he kept looking back at me for direction?
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Old 04-22-2012, 12:48 PM   #5 (permalink)
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i think that is normal in the beginning to look at you for direction. you might want to stand a bit closer, like at his hip for a while and slowly let slack out, he might feel more comfortable knowing your closer at first.

funny my young male seems to like following strangers tracks better than mine, more exciting i guess..........but, again i think its normal in the beginning typically to be more comfortable follwoing the handlers tracks.

sounds like he's doing good for a beginner. are you putting food in every step or have you progressed past that?
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Old 04-22-2012, 12:57 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I would think the scent discrimination of the crushed vegetation should have the dog on task regardless if you laid it or a stranger. Maybe your footsteps are heavier than the stranger laid track?
I ran my dog for the very first time on a stranger laid track in a corn field(hadn't been plowed or anything since it was harvested last fall). The "stranger" was my trainer who is use to doing AKC style tracking and she had heavy footprints, the corner was a box of sorts and easy for my dog to follow....compared to me who does a regular footstep pace type track w/ rounded corners. But his first time on dirt with strong winds he did great. I wonder if I make it too difficult with my lighter footsteps!
Maybe have your stranger lay it again and watch how s/he is doing it?
As far as food goes, you could drag a mesh bag of chicken liver for scent, if the crows are eating up the food. We have ant problems so I switched to cat kibble for a bit, and only rewarded with the good stuff after article indication, so the food on the track was a non-issue.
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Old 04-22-2012, 02:20 PM   #7 (permalink)
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How long has Benny been tracking? If he hasn't been tracking long, I would stick to laying your own tracks. It shouldn't matter to the dog but it matters to YOU as the handler. You can't help the dog the way a novice dog needs without knowing exactly where the track is and why it was laid that way. IMO the learning that happens in tracking has more to do with how the track is laid then how the track is run/handled, if that makes sense. If he's not yet comfortable working on his own at a distance then start closer. Pan is 20 months and has been tracking on and off since he was 7 weeks and I still track right next to him. Nikon has two tracking titles and is 3 years and in training I rarely track more than 10-15 feet behind him.
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Old 04-22-2012, 03:15 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Thanks everyone. Benny has only been tracking for two weeks so this is new to us both. He did not do as well when the trainer laid the track but it could have been because we were at a new park and he was more distracted. It was also very hot. The trainer did have me flank him a bit and it helped.

I am dropping food just every few steps and last night he hardly stopped to eat the food drops, just kept scenting to the article where he knew he would get the good stuff.
Benny does not see me lay the track, because I leave him home and then go to the park across the street to lay the track, and then go back and get him.

The trainer said to start letting it sit for 10 minutes before bringing him out. The idea of the mesh bag with chicken scent is great.
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Old 04-22-2012, 03:17 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I do not reward after finishing a track. She simply finds the last article (she doesn't know when or where), instead of telling her to such again I sit her and take her off the track.

Playing and big parties at the end of the track lead to a dog who rushes to reach the end.
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Old 04-22-2012, 03:29 PM   #10 (permalink)
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tracking is such an individual thing. you really have to study your dog closely. see how he reacts when he loses scents, is he air scenting, does he take you on some ride to something else, is he honest and smells the ground in a few direction for a minute and then gets back on track? and i agree i would lay your own track for a while,. so you know where it is, and how much food you used. obviously one good way to tell in the beginning if he's not picking up the food he's probably lost the track. although it shouldn't happen if your using alot of food right now. but, you must geographically know exactly where your track is, that can take time for some, unless your using flags right now, and thats not a bad idea, until Benny and you get used to things.

My Sam is totally more interested in the track now that he's advanced. but, i had to work on the articles, because he was tracking around them because he wanted to keep going. now that thats worked out, we are good to go. there are alot of things that have to be worked out along the way as they advance.
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