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Last week I went to a hard surface tracking seminar by Jerry Bradshaw at my local PD. I had a little bit of knowledge on how to do it, but I had a few holes in my program. The seminar was amazing. Jerry and his team were great instructors. So I took my new knowledge, and started my two Dutchies on it yesterday. They are taking to it well.

What are some of the methods you guys use for HST?

Winston 5 months old first Hard Surface Track

Cy, my green dog 18 months old and has zero training. First Hard Surface Track
 

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Great videos, as always.

I see you have placed treats along the track but did you place something else? There are darker marks that might just be asphalt fixes or something you put there.

In another words, how did you lay this track different from a grass track?
 

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Great videos, as always.

I see you have placed treats along the track but did you place something else? There are darker marks that might just be asphalt fixes or something you put there.

In another words, how did you lay this track different from a grass track?

The dark line, is water. I sprayed water down and walked over the water to hold my scent. I then placed treats along the track to keep their heads down and reward them going forward. Just like in grass, starting with food in every footstep, then slowly fading it away.

The difference between this and a grass track is what the dog is scenting. IN grass, the dog is more tracking the ground disturbance than human odor. The ground disturbance is the stronger scent so easier for the dog to follow. The hard surface the dog is following the human scent. The water helps to hold the odor when they are first starting. So I sprayed the water down and made about 4 passes over it. Then laid the treats down and ran them. The water also helps me know where I went :)
 

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Your dogs both did very well. We have only done grass tracking. I want to try that. My training is all informal but I want to do it the right away. What do you use for treats and how hungry is the dog before you start?
 

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The hard surface the dog is following the human scent.
This!

Thanks a bunch for your detailed description.

We're doing the grass tracks but it's not very good for actual application (especially considering we don't have much grass in our forest). I've been told grass is ideal for laying a good foundation of nose to ground.
 

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Your dogs both did very well. We have only done grass tracking. I want to try that. My training is all informal but I want to do it the right away. What do you use for treats and how hungry is the dog before you start?

Thanks! I'm using hotdogs for treats. I didn't feed them breakfast, and ran the tracks about the time they would normally eat. So not anything too crazy. If your dog isn't super food motivated, maybe only feed half the prior meal.
 

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This!

Thanks a bunch for your detailed description.

We're doing the grass tracks but it's not very good for actual application (especially considering we don't have much grass in our forest). I've been told grass is ideal for laying a good foundation of nose to ground.

It is! I always put a foundation of grass tracking on my dogs. Winston and Cy are the first two that I'm trying hard surface first. Winston did have a couple session of soft surface tracking first, but not enough to really get him going. I do other things as well. Like when I'm busy and don't have time to work them for their meals I'll chuck their food into the grass and make them hunt to find each kibble. I did it to Winston the other night. The little dude was out there for half an hour hunting to find each piece haha. I was impressed that as a puppy he stuck with it that long.
 

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Thanks! I'm using hotdogs for treats. I didn't feed them breakfast, and ran the tracks about the time they would normally eat. So not anything too crazy. If your dog isn't super food motivated, maybe only feed half the prior meal.
I can do it early before breakfast. Mine is on a special diet so treats are limited, but fortunately he loves the food.

Is there a reason why you are teaching hard tracking first to those two dogs?
 

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The dark line, is water. I sprayed water down and walked over the water to hold my scent. I then placed treats along the track to keep their heads down and reward them going forward. Just like in grass, starting with food in every footstep, then slowly fading it away.

The difference between this and a grass track is what the dog is scenting. IN grass, the dog is more tracking the ground disturbance than human odor. The ground disturbance is the stronger scent so easier for the dog to follow. The hard surface the dog is following the human scent. The water helps to hold the odor when they are first starting. So I sprayed the water down and made about 4 passes over it. Then laid the treats down and ran them. The water also helps me know where I went :)
Thanks for posting this. My dog tracks well on most groundcover, and he tracks in woods/ leaf litter about the same but he really falls apart on hard surfaces. I think a made a big mistake not trying to teach it early on. It's something I've really wanted to do. I think I'll try this! So you spray the water but only walk on it, the water itself isn't scented? I think I've heard of putting dirty socks or something in the water
 

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I was talking about this with an AKC Tracking judge a couple of months ago asking her suggestions to try and get my dog going on hard surface because it's hard to get him to put his nose down and work, he just doesn't think the track will be there I guess.

She said she has tried sock feet, and also smearing like lunchmeat on her shoe soles to try and make a more noticeable scent for a green dog to follow.

My dog usually tracks 20-30 feet ahead of me, @mycobraracr would you think I should get right up there with him to try and get him to put his nose down and work as if he is a green dog because on hard surface he is?
 

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Thanks for posting this. My dog tracks well on most groundcover, and he tracks in woods/ leaf litter about the same but he really falls apart on hard surfaces. I think a made a big mistake not trying to teach it early on. It's something I've really wanted to do. I think I'll try this! So you spray the water but only walk on it, the water itself isn't scented? I think I've heard of putting dirty socks or something in the water

There is a method of putting dirty stinky clothes in the water. I am not following that method. The theory is, if you can teach them to follow trace amounts of odor then it's easy to raise the amount of odor. If you teach them to track on a lot of odor, then they easily get confused when there is trace amounts.

The water is just distilled water so there are no chemicals or minerals in it for odor. The water helps hold your skin graphs and stuff that fall off when you walk. You then lay hot dogs, food or something like that along the way for reinforcement. There is more to it than that, and I'd strongly recommend listening to Jerry's podcast on it as well as signing up to be a patron. I believe he has his course notes on it.
 

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There is a method of putting dirty stinky clothes in the water. I am not following that method. The theory is, if you can teach them to follow trace amounts of odor then it's easy to raise the amount of odor. If you teach them to track on a lot of odor, then they easily get confused when there is trace amounts.

The water is just distilled water so there are no chemicals or minerals in it for odor. The water helps hold your skin graphs and stuff that fall off when you walk. You then lay hot dogs, food or something like that along the way for reinforcement. There is more to it than that, and I'd strongly recommend listening to Jerry's podcast on it as well as signing up to be a patron. I believe he has his course notes on it.
What did you spray it from? And did you walk back and forth on the same track 4 times, lots of AKC ppl have told me this is a nono because the dog can tell the direction of the track and you don't want to train him to go in the wrong direction?
 

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I was talking about this with an AKC Tracking judge a couple of months ago asking her suggestions to try and get my dog going on hard surface because it's hard to get him to put his nose down and work, he just doesn't think the track will be there I guess.

She said she has tried sock feet, and also smearing like lunchmeat on her shoe soles to try and make a more noticeable scent for a green dog to follow.

My dog usually tracks 20-30 feet ahead of me, @mycobraracr would you think I should get right up there with him to try and get him to put his nose down and work as if he is a green dog because on hard surface he is?

They are tracking different scents when on soft surface vs. hard surface. On soft surface they are tracking the ground disturbance since that's the strongest odor. Hard surface doesn't have the vegetation disturbance and the scent in general is less. The scent falls into the cracks, and in between.
 

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What did you spray it from? And did you walk back and forth on the same track 4 times, lots of AKC ppl have told me this is a nono because the dog can tell the direction of the track and you don't want to train him to go in the wrong direction?

It is sprayed from a garden sprayer. A clean never used garden sprayer. Yes I laid water down four times (walking on it). The dogs can definitely tell the direction of travel. So, after I sprayed the water down, I walked back over it in the direction I wanted the track ran and put down the food. That way the last time I went on it, it was in the direction of travel I wanted.

Also if you notice, I start into the track from a 90 degree angle. Not straight into it. This helps with casting to a track later, also tells me if they can find the direction of travel. On today's track, Cy quickly checked to our left then went right, the direction of the track. He figured out real fast which direction we were going. Does this make sense?
 

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It is sprayed from a garden sprayer. A clean never used garden sprayer. Yes I laid water down four times (walking on it). The dogs can definitely tell the direction of travel. So, after I sprayed the water down, I walked back over it in the direction I wanted the track ran and put down the food. That way the last time I went on it, it was in the direction of travel I wanted.

Also if you notice, I start into the track from a 90 degree angle. Not straight into it. This helps with casting to a track later, also tells me if they can find the direction of travel. On today's track, Cy quickly checked to our left then went right, the direction of the track. He figured out real fast which direction we were going. Does this make sense?
Yes but I'd have to assume they could also still smell the other passes in the other direction?

We do baby tracks for new dogs like that in the grass, back and forth a couple of times. And I've run a new dog on a track I just ran another dog down so obviously they can start off with more scents and then boil it down later
 

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Yes but I'd have to assume they could also still smell the other passes in the other direction?

We do baby tracks for new dogs like that in the grass, back and forth a couple of times. And I've run a new dog on a track I just ran another dog down so obviously they can start off with more scents and then boil it down later

Sure they can smell the other passes, but which one is the strongest scent? That's the one they're most likely to follow. In soft surface I don't make multiple passes, no real need to.

Dogs can start with more scents, that's the "Stew" method when teaching detection. Teach all the odors at once. Running a dog over a track another dog ran makes sense. Again in softer surfaces, they are following more the ground disturbance than human or dog odor.
 

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Sure they can smell the other passes, but which one is the strongest scent? That's the one they're most likely to follow. In soft surface I don't make multiple passes, no real need to.

Dogs can start with more scents, that's the "Stew" method when teaching detection. Teach all the odors at once. Running a dog over a track another dog ran makes sense. Again in softer surfaces, they are following more the ground disturbance than human or dog odor.
So an interesting spin on that-- cross tracks. I've been training cross tracks Since last year because we have TDX dreams. On the TDX the tracklayer is always the older track so I always have my cross track go in at least 2 hours after the original. His very first cross track threw him but since then he might indicate with a look but often does not acknowledge the cross track.

I wonder if that is because he knows it isn't the right person or it isn't the right age.

I've heard people say to a dog it's like saying follow the person in the red shirt. (the specific track amongst all the tracks)

Mind you 98% of the tracking we've ever done is in hayfields or other nature areas where there is no other human scent but the track
 

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I trail, the distinction being not a FST, however, I've never had difficulty with dogs on VST or hard surfaces.. They have just naturally followed the odor wherever it was laid... Even my newest who is now 14mos old, worked hard surfaces as young as 12wks old...
 
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