Getting a deeper nose on challenging terrain - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-21-2012, 09:41 AM Thread Starter
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Getting a deeper nose on challenging terrain



As you can see, our field for the trial is a bit challenging. Then the city came and mowed it a few days prior to trial despite telling us they would not mow it. What you can't see is the 10-15mph wind thanks to tropical storm alberto forming right off our coast.


So she struggled dealing with this.. we spent a lot of time trying to find and stay on the track. I had to carefully place next to weed stubble and partially bury the articles so she would not sight them from 30 feet away and just go straight to them. We indicated both articles but overall it was a really tough track for us...

Post trial, I'm ready to start tracking this field again. We have perfect tracks on normal fields, perfect footstep to footstep, super deep nosed, perfect corners, perfect article indication... nothing was perfect on the crappy field, but I want it to be. So any suggestions on how to:
  • get a deeper nose in such a challenging field with so little ground cover or vegetation
  • deal with the wind. assume a deeper nose will help or correct the tracking a foot downwind of the actual track
  • prevent any sort of "Oh, I can see the article, I don't need to track anymore to go find that" behavior.
  • get strong scent discrimination... I want to be able to track her on a soccer field or public park where traffic is heavy. in other words, I want the dog not just follow a fresh track, but *that guy's* fresh track.

I thought about doing some tracking after dark as that would really help with the sighting and my thinking is that it could help focus the effort on the sense of smell while suppressing the others.

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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-21-2012, 10:09 AM
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I needed a deeper nose and more intense tracking from my dog at one point so I started using articles the size of Scrabble pieces (took Gappay articles and cut into thirds) and sometimes burying them halfway or letting them fall down into the vegetation.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-21-2012, 10:30 AM Thread Starter
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I needed a deeper nose and more intense tracking from my dog at one point so I started using articles the size of Scrabble pieces (took Gappay articles and cut into thirds) and sometimes burying them halfway or letting them fall down into the vegetation.
I already made more articles that are bordering the size of a piece of gum (like orbit or the other kinds that come in foil)... It would seem making the articles much harder to locate by itself is just making the likelyhood of positive reinforcement lower... how do you also promote an even deeper nose to make sure you are able to reinforce the deeper nose? I was thinking about flagging off a small section.. maybe ~3ft by ~10ft, and completely burying articles and/or food, so we can really focus on a small patch to work on the deep nose for buried things.. thoughts?

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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-21-2012, 10:58 AM
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If the dog blew and article I gave him a HARD correction, like basically setting him back at the article. After a few reps he realized that tracking is not just following my track,he's got to find those tough articles. Even if the conditions on the track are nice (good, wet vegetation), he can't track with his nose high because he'll miss those little articles. For him we made tracking strictly about finding articles. He was trained to indicate using positive technique and sees articles as very rewarding and his desire is to find them. The actual indications have always been quick and straight but my problem with him is that he got too used to really nice tracks and nice conditions. The tracking became too much about just following the track and not enough about making sure he finds whatever I put on that track. I don't correct the nose not being deep, but when that happens he will miss those little articles and THEN he will be in trouble. It depends on the dog though, he's pretty clear and will take a lot of pressure and figure stuff out. The corrections come because he went over an article completely, not the same as using a correction if the dog pauses at an article and then refuses to indicate. I reward the deeper nose because that means he finds the article and gets rewarded at the article. Also, I give him calm praise and encouragement on the track when he's doing it well.

We're getting ready for TR2 and I'm going back and doing more of this in the next week or so. He tracked pretty well yesterday and did indicate all the articles (someone else laid the track) but in between the track was relatively easy, little wind and nice cover so he got lazy and kept his head high for my taste.

Last edited by Liesje; 05-21-2012 at 11:02 AM.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-21-2012, 11:07 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Liesje View Post
If the dog blew and article I gave him a HARD correction, like basically setting him back at the article. After a few reps he realized that tracking is not just following my track,he's got to find those tough articles. Even if the conditions on the track are nice (good, wet vegetation), he can't track with his nose high because he'll miss those little articles. For him we made tracking strictly about finding articles. He was trained to indicate using positive technique and sees articles as very rewarding and his desire is to find them. The actual indications have always been quick and straight but my problem with him is that he got too used to really nice tracks and nice conditions. The tracking became too much about just following the track and not enough about making sure he finds whatever I put on that track. I don't correct the nose not being deep, but when that happens he will miss those little articles and THEN he will be in trouble. It depends on the dog though, he's pretty clear and will take a lot of pressure and figure stuff out. The corrections come because he went over an article completely, not the same as using a correction if the dog pauses at an article and then refuses to indicate. I reward the deeper nose because that means he finds the article and gets rewarded at the article. Also, I give him calm praise and encouragement on the track when he's doing it well.

We're getting ready for TR2 and I'm going back and doing more of this in the next week or so. He tracked pretty well yesterday and did indicate all the articles (someone else laid the track) but in between the track was relatively easy, little wind and nice cover so he got lazy and kept his head high for my taste.
Our main trouble was going from really nice tracking areas, where she was really deep nosed and focused, to the really hard one, where she was getting frustrated & doubting her nose I think. She still found/finds all the articles even when I've partially buried them, just the tracking to get there is rough. When she gets frustrated the nose comes up.

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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-21-2012, 11:11 AM
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You can also make the tracks themselves more challenging (of course the conditions you show are very challenging already). I use three things to get a deeper nose; smaller/more difficult articles (sometimes more of them depending on the dog), food and harder tracks. In my older dogs I also will use a bit of pressure if they start to screw around too much. Something else I do is work with what is natural for the dog. Some dogs are not genetically deep nosed tracking dogs. We can make them more careful and more accurate, but other than going to methods that I won't use, we can't force them to work in a way that is not natural to them.

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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-21-2012, 11:14 AM
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I would go back and help your dog to so she can develop more confidence. I would use more food so she is being constantly reinforced when she is correct.

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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-21-2012, 11:15 AM Thread Starter
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She is naturally an excellent tracker, we were just ill-prepared for the conditions. We just started working on this field and had I had more prep time I think we could have done better, but it is what it is. She was ****-bent on finding the articles and never lost focus or desire to work, but she *really* had to work to find those articles. So basically, I'm trying to figure the best method to communicate "hey, its much more subtle than we normally do, but I promise you, the track is there" lol

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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-21-2012, 11:16 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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I would go back and help your dog to so she can develop more confidence. I would use more food so she is being constantly reinforced when she is correct.
I plan on it, however for the summer food is almost impossible to use.. fire ants down here will be on anything in under 2-3 minutes

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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-21-2012, 11:28 AM
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I forgot you were in the south. Yes, those darn ants. Maybe try scuffing the track in really hard to help her in that way.

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