I'll start this post off by saying how important I think it is for dogs to work, to do the job(s) they were bred to do, and nothing is more exciting than watching them do that. Even better is being a part of it. I think that having a breeding program means constantly testing and bettering your breeding stock and part of that is done through working them. All breeds of dogs were created to do a job, and I really believe it's important to stay in touch with that.
Pelly (Braebrook's Pellegrino Marsala) and I have been working together in tracking and although we are only a few sessions in she is showing real promise. We are both relatively new to the sport, although I have started a few other dogs and so we are learning as we go…..books and the internet provide a wealth of information.
My husband Chris came along for today's training to snap a few pictures of us working together as I thought it might be fun to share our session with you.
Because Pelly is brand new we don't yet require a lot of space to work in so a soccer field from a closed down school makes a great spot to track on occasionally.
Here I am laying the first of two tracks, they are short, extremely well laid (I sort of shuffle along leaving lots of scent behind and drop bits of food - in this case it was small cut up pieces of Rollover ), and not aged at all.
Once I was done laying the track I went back to the van to collect my eager student. I bring her out with her tracking harness on along with a buckle collar which my lead is attached to. Normally I would be working her on a regular tracking line but I haven't been able to find mine so it's on the list of things to pick up. After today's session I really can't work her on a six foot lead anymore as she is beyond that and really getting what it is I want her to do. I like to bring her out on a buckle collar rather than a slip collar which I use day to day as this helps to encourage her to pull, something you want them to do in tracking which is also why they are typically tracked in a harness.
As I start to approach the scent pad marked by the first flag (the scent pad is an area about 2-3 feet in diameter that has been well stomped down by my feet leaving lots of scent) I switch the lead from her buckle collar to her tracking harness and bring her up holding on to the harness (as you can see she knows exactly what that means and has already gone to work).
Once I'm at the scent pad I encourage her to smell all over it and really fill her nostrils with the scent.
When I think she is ready I use the command "seek" to tell her to get started. This can take some patience the first couple of times as they are unsure exactly what you want them to do and just kind of sniff all over. The important thing is to remain patient, if they are using their nose they are working so don't interrupt. If they seem lost you can help them by pointing along the track and giving the command again to seek. There is food left along the way so they follow that (make sure they are hungry) and pick it up fairly quickly.
Pelly worked very well today, on the second track in particular as she pulled me along and kept her nose to the ground, I was very proud of her. Although I don't have any pictures of it she did find the article both times and while I have been having her pick it up (with much encouragement from me) I think I am actually going to train her to lie down on it instead like the schutzhund dogs typically do. I think it shows better that they have found it, less chance of not indicating which can fail you in a tracking test.
When we're done I attach the lead back on to her buckle collar and collect the flags, as you can see she is still wanting to work. I think leaving them wanting more is a good way to finish!
And a few pictures just because…. :)
I'm hoping to continue to blog regularly over the fall and winter as we prepare for spring trials in both tracking and obedience, and I'm hoping to get Libby started in bird work as well. Lots to do…it's a good thing I love it so much. ;)