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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-17-2012, 08:43 AM Thread Starter
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Tracking help

So, I've been tracking trying to get my dogs able to track on the disaster that is our tracking field. Sometimes I think tracking on a little league soccer field might be easier, while a game is going on...

So basically, been working on our hard field, but the challenge of it I think is shaking the dogs' trust in their nose... I'm starting to see too much checking off the sides of the track, some leaving the track, some reluctance to keep tracking. Today I went back to a super easy track (tall lush dewy grass & clover), and while we found all our articles I saw some of the same behaviors... last year we were super on this field. I'd be sorta happy with this track on our hard field, but this was unacceptable for them on this field. Any thoughts on how to correct this? Take it all the way back to basics & foundation and build back up?

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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-17-2012, 10:18 AM
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A littlt bit of checking off the track is allowable as long the dog is using nose and working towards finding the track. Quitting or lifting head up are huge no no's.
If dog lifts head up and looks around at the sights, that's it he goes back to kennel. Start again in next session and work on building drive towards the track.

A dog will track due to 2 things essentially,
1. Drive to track/get reward for a job well done
2. Track because there is no other option

Best to keep it very black and white. If you start accepting a so so track, then you get a so so tracker.

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-17-2012, 10:23 AM
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A littlt bit of checking off the track is allowable as long the dog is using nose and working towards finding the track. Quitting or lifting head up are huge no no's.
If dog lifts head up and looks around at the sights, that's it he goes back to kennel. Start again in next session and work on building drive towards the track.

A dog will track due to 2 things essentially,
1. Drive to track/get reward for a job well done
2. Track because there is no other option

Best to keep it very black and white. If you start accepting a so so track, then you get a so so tracker.
I agree that the checking is fine, but quitting would make me put the dog up. When my dog started getting lazy on the track I had to rebuild the motivation. I used little 'treasures' as articles here and there and he would indicate the little can of cat food (or other yummy things) and get a tasty treat halfway through. I also give a can of sardines at the end of the track if he did really really well as motivation to reach the end. My dog is always very sensitive to me, so if I show any emotion towards being upset, it effects the way he tracks. The more pressure I put on him, the worse he does.

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-17-2012, 10:30 AM
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I agree that the checking is fine, but quitting would make me put the dog up. When my dog started getting lazy on the track I had to rebuild the motivation. I used little 'treasures' as articles here and there and he would indicate the little can of cat food (or other yummy things) and get a tasty treat halfway through. I also give a can of sardines at the end of the track if he did really really well as motivation to reach the end. My dog is always very sensitive to me, so if I show any emotion towards being upset, it effects the way he tracks. The more pressure I put on him, the worse he does.
Not to get sidetracked but its funny - everyone swears by sardines as the ultimate treat but my dog just snubs his nose to it. He's like I'm not a bear dude give me some red meat! My trainers use it all the time though as end of the track reward
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-17-2012, 10:33 AM
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Not to get sidetracked but its funny - everyone swears by sardines as the ultimate treat but my dog just snubs his nose to it. He's like I'm not a bear dude give me some red meat! My trainers use it all the time though as end of the track reward
WOW! My dog is picky but he LOVES his fishes! He had no motivation to track until I started using that kind of stuff.

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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-17-2012, 10:57 AM
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Pay attention to the wind and the age of the tracks. Casting will be more common if there is wind pushing the scent off the track. If the track is in that, what I want to call, transitional stage where the scent is dissipating they will tend to cast and search more (I find the IPO2 track the most difficult for my dogs). The IPO1 the scent is still located fairly tightly on the ground and right around where we have walked (depending on moisture and how windy it is). It starts to spread the more aged the track with the air scent not as distracting after about 45 minutes (again, depending on the moisture and wind). I have found 1 hour old tracks are often the easiest tracks for my dogs.


Your field sounds miserable (sort of what our tracking conditions were from May through most of August) for tracking. I would help your dogs by making the tracks easier and to help motivate the dogs to continue to fight to find the track and keep going.

Lisa Clark

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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-17-2012, 11:01 AM
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My guys also love their sardines.

Lisa Clark

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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-17-2012, 01:08 PM Thread Starter
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Pay attention to the wind and the age of the tracks. Casting will be more common if there is wind pushing the scent off the track. If the track is in that, what I want to call, transitional stage where the scent is dissipating they will tend to cast and search more (I find the IPO2 track the most difficult for my dogs). The IPO1 the scent is still located fairly tightly on the ground and right around where we have walked (depending on moisture and how windy it is). It starts to spread the more aged the track with the air scent not as distracting after about 45 minutes (again, depending on the moisture and wind). I have found 1 hour old tracks are often the easiest tracks for my dogs.


Your field sounds miserable (sort of what our tracking conditions were from May through most of August) for tracking. I would help your dogs by making the tracks easier and to help motivate the dogs to continue to fight to find the track and keep going.
At Katya's IPO trial the judge said if he got out of his car and saw this, he'd put is dog back in the crate and leave lol. Its pretty challenging.. but I figure if we can track on that, trialing at your average club should be a cakewalk.

I do pay attention to all the above. We have a fair amount of wind at the normal field, but the past few times out it was manageable.. when its windy my dogs will consistently track a foot or so to the downwind side of the track. What I'm talking about is going both sides irrespective of the wind. They will only leave the track by a few feet usually, and so far have always found their way back and resumed, but its not pretty. Today I shorted the age to maybe 10 minutes, stomped in the track, and it was lush virgin field with no wind and I saw the same in both dogs which concerned me. I was trying to ensure an "easy win" in the hopes it would improve the really challenging track.. well that didn't seem to work. Perhaps doing an hour aged track on this same easy field?

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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-17-2012, 02:34 PM
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They are going WAY off if they are leaving the track by a couple of feet. We can get that wtih the cross grains in our fields at times because of how the mower leaves the fields. We will have areas where the scent pools and the dogs will want to follow. Anyhow, I try to use more bait or more articles to help the dog work through this and also stay closer to them so they can not make such huge mistakes. You could also use more pressure on the dog in the form of corrections for leaving the track, but I have never had much success doing this.

I have seen dogs have issues going from difficult tracks to very easy tracks. IMO it is because there is too much scent. My bitch was actually tracking better in the bone dry stuff we had over the summer than she is now.

Lisa Clark

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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-17-2012, 02:43 PM
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Why let the dog get so far off the track while searching for it this can lead to bad habits later like you are seeing now. Your dogs might work better if for a little during tracking let them know that you are there by keeping your leash line tight so they cant wander so far off. For some dogs it helps them to remind that you are out there working and not out for a sunday stroll.
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