Tracking issue driving me nuts! - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 60 (permalink) Old 03-23-2012, 10:06 AM Thread Starter
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Tracking issue driving me nuts!

My dog tracks left..... He starts a track beautifully, then at some time during the track, usually when I start to smile thinking "we HAVE this!", he starts to veer off to the left. Still apparently tracking, and if I did not know where the track was, I would not even mess with him.

This started about 3 months ago. I quit tracking for about a month. Brought him back out as a baby, food in every step. That was screwing him up as my handling was not clear enough to get him to eat every piece, so he would pass, then backup.

So we went to food every 3rd step, much better. But still veers off and comes back.

He is pretty handler sensitive, a verbal "No" when he is off smelling the roses is more than enough usually, and if I get frustrated ( I know, handler issue) and use a more irritated "No" he comes back to me and starts offering behaviors. Then the rest of the track is pretty much ruined.

If you have had or seen this issue..... please give me some input!
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post #2 of 60 (permalink) Old 03-23-2012, 10:28 AM
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How old is he, how many tracks do you run per week, how windy is it when you are tracking, how are you laying the track, what type of vegetation and how long has he been tracking? Also, when he veers off the track how far is he going, does he self correct back to the track or are you helping? Are you tracking with the line going straight to his collar, under one leg, straight under his body and how far away from him are you?

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post #3 of 60 (permalink) Old 03-23-2012, 10:47 AM Thread Starter
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He is 2 coming on 3.

Lately we track 4-5 days a week. (did some puppy tracks, but did not start really tracking until he was a year. We would track for a few months, then not for a few months).
Today as an example: No wind, park style shortish grass, dew. First leg about 100 paces, got to the end before he started to veer. Brought him back, made the turn nicely.... then just started left. I got frustrated, so started coming back to me.

I am pulling him back on when he gets more than a body length off the track. I have let him go farther, and he showed no real signs of coming back on his own. He did start quartering for a while, but now seems to prefer left.

Until about 2 months ago, he was tracking in a harness. When this became an issue, I swapped to the fursaver, line under a leg. Kind of freaked him out at first as he is pretty sensitive to collar corrections. That first day, I ended up snapping two lines to his collar, one under each leg, to "steady" him. Since then, just one line.

In the past he has tracked different types of vegetation, over gravel roads, through drainage ditches. No food drops. Article indication was easy-peasy. (he has been blowing off articles now- kind of hard to find them when you aren't on the track.)
Because he seemed to really be good at it, I probably pushed him too fast.

So when I started seeing issues, I backed up. But I am still seeing issues.

I track by myself, so likely have "taught" him this inadvertently. He has a SUPER nose, can find hidden objects and missing children (my daughter). But following a track is proving difficult to train.
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post #4 of 60 (permalink) Old 03-23-2012, 10:57 AM
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Quote:
He is pretty handler sensitive, a verbal "No" when he is off smelling the roses is more than enough usually, and if I get frustrated ( I know, handler issue) and use a more irritated "No" he comes back to me and starts offering behaviors. Then the rest of the track is pretty much ruined.
Here is your answer.^^^^

I can't remember the last time I verbally corrected any of my dogs on the track. Or with the leash. The only time I will correct my dog is if he quits and he must REALLY quit before I do.

Talking by the handler causes the majority of problems in tracking. It is disruptive for the dog. The best advise I can offer you is to learn to be quiet, ( completely quiet and that includes encouragement), and let your dog work the track. The reason I say even encouragement is because most people will do that first, before they get mad at the dog. The dogs figure out pretty fast that any talking means trouble, so, be quiet.

What you are describing, the tracking to the side of the track, can be stress and avoidance and in this case, I am bettting it is.

The idea of food in every foot step is a mistake, if you ask me. That is for beginning dogs and should not continue past the initial training. It is never a good idea to stop the dog and demand that he eat the food. It can cause confusion and block his drive...resulting in behavior that you are describing.


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post #5 of 60 (permalink) Old 03-23-2012, 11:00 AM Thread Starter
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I figure it must be avoidance.

Sooooo, when he goes off track, what sould be my "reply?" Stand stock still and ignore him? Under the assumption that he will eventually return to the track and work it?

God it is hard to be quiet and quit "helping" my dog!

BTW--- he did seem to track better with no food on the track.
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post #6 of 60 (permalink) Old 03-23-2012, 11:03 AM
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You need to make yourself "small" Mary. You cannot be this big , angry, imposing menace walking behind your dog and that is what you are saying here. Pulling the dog back on the track worries him and for sure getting angry does. That is simply disasterous during tracking.

If he leaves the track, you should stop moving forward and be quiet. Let him look for it and when he hits the track again, start moving forward.. It will take some time because you have already damaged some trust here. The quiet part is the most important but you can't be yanking him around either. Tracking is done in a lower state of drive than the other phases. Therefore, you can easily become a prroblem for your dog . Be small when you are handling him, so he can think. He is too worried about what you are going to do next.


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post #7 of 60 (permalink) Old 03-23-2012, 11:03 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by gagsd View Post
.... First leg about 100 paces, got to the end before he started to veer. Brought him back, made the turn nicely.... then just started left. I got frustrated, so started coming back to me.
I wonder if I started to tense up anticipating "will he make the turn?" Which caused his cute little avoidance technique of leaving the track????

This dog is going to teach me to be a better handler, for sure.
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post #8 of 60 (permalink) Old 03-23-2012, 11:05 AM
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I can guarantee you that he will be extremely relieved when you shut up. lol. I had to learn this myself and it does work.


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post #9 of 60 (permalink) Old 03-23-2012, 11:11 AM Thread Starter
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I can guarantee you that he will be extremely relieved when you shut up. lol. I had to learn this myself and it does work.
I laugh way too much when "talking" with you!

I never thought about it, but I talk a LOT when I am nervous or anxious. Betting I am doing the same thing on the track. Also betting that I am tensing up on the line when we approach more difficult things like change of cover, turns etc.

Am I the only one who needs to type things out and get input from others to gain salf-awareness??
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post #10 of 60 (permalink) Old 03-23-2012, 11:18 AM
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I wonder if I started to tense up anticipating "will he make the turn?" Which caused his cute little avoidance technique of leaving the track????
Most people will start talking to their dog when they get to the corner or , if they can be quiet, they will make a subtle, ( or not so subtle), change in how they handle the line, usually they will start to "steer". If the dog even looks the other way, he is corrected or the talking that preceeds the correction starts up.

I remember helping someone with tracking some years back. Their dog would go the opposite direction and then circle on the corner. The handler was there yaking away at the dog and it was clear, ( to me anyway), that the handler was causing all of it. I told him to be quiet on the next corner, whereupon the dog nailed it, same on the next one and the next one. The handler was shocked but if you think about it, the talking puts the dog in another state of mind. Sometimes, it brings the drive up , sometimes it takes the drive away but in both cases, the dog will show it in his behavior. When the dog is working at the right drive level, they work really well. When you disrupt that drive level, you will have problems.

Edited to add: It is much easier to disrupt the dog's drive in tracking than the other phases but what I said applies to everything in dog training. The handling is just extremely important.


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Last edited by Vandal; 03-23-2012 at 11:21 AM.
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