The first thing I did at the Saturday training session with Mr. Ledda was learn more about tracking. He corrected a lot of my training mistakes and I am now on the rounded corners, tracking in grass, with part food/part no-food. My biggest mistake was the corners. I was doing them like the guys at the club, which are hard 90 degree corners. It was too hard for Lizzie. She would pass the corner and then circle back. This isn’t good because she is not learning to find corners well and be exact. So now we are doing rounded corners.
Tip from the session: On the corners, stop and hold tension in the line until the dog finds and commits to the corner, then let it go. The purpose is to help your dog learn to find and follow the corners without it overshooting and coming back.
Tip 2: Keep a tracking log! Every day you track, record the date, time, weather conditions, temp, track you laid, and how the dog did. Score yourself and log the errors.
Tip 3: WATCH OUT FOR ANTS! Summertime is bad for tracking with food. Don’t lay food if ants are going to get to it. They will bite your dog’s lip and give it a really bad experience that it won’t want to ever repeat.
TIPS FROM RITA AT VOM HAUS LEDDA: http://www.vomhausledda.com/tracking_tips.htm
When teaching a dog to track…initially…….only do so when it is cool and/or wet. Tracking is more difficult for the dog when the temperature is high and/or
dry. Tracking is more pleasant….and easier for the dog when the temperature is cold and/or wet
If you work a normal 8 hour day….or more….. and think you don’t have time to track 4 or 5 times a week, think again. Buy a miner’s light that you wear on your head. Works great! I climbed Mt. Fuji at night with a miner’s light…….and a good friend who owned a 24-hour convenience store……taught his dog to track with this method.
Track before daylight in the morning…. before you go to work……or track in the evening….before you go to bed
When beginning to teach your dog to track, if the opportunity avails itself, allow your dog to ‘watch’ another dog or dogs…..that *love to track…and which are good at it.* If the dog/dogs are yours, tie the young/new tracker somewhere where he can watch….or hold him and encourage him to watch. Do this many times.
Especially allow your dog to watch while another dog enjoys tracking….and ***afterwards*** the owner makes a big deal at the end…and plays with the dog…and shows his pleasure that he and the dog have worked well together.*
Always make a big…fun….positive…*deal* after your dog has completed his track! Let him know that he did fine…and that you enjoyed working with him. Even if your dog wasn’t as *into it* as you would like for him to have been, do not show it. Be happy that
you both got out there and tried.
The above can be done with physical praise;i.e, petting/hugging….or throwing the ball/kong/toy….or using a bite toy….or just verbal praise.
Make tracking an exciting, fun event that your dog always looks forward to.
Before leaving home….or before leaving your dog’s kennel area, talk to him/her in an excited voice about tracking; i.e., tracking?….wanna go find it?…..are your ready?….Show him/her the articles/treats/long line, etc. Speak in a very ‘up’ and excited voice. When you reach tracking area, again show the articles or treats as you go to lay the track….and speak in an excited voice.
Just before beginning track….again speak in an up and excited voice.
Tracking is a team effort with you and your dog. Both need to be excited and looking forward to the activity. All little things you can do to effectuate this….will assist you….and your dog…to have an excellent ‘attitude’ about tracking….and when times and tracking get difficult, you will both work through the difficulties as a team….that works well together….to a successful end of the track.
As soon as your dog does 50 or 75 feet of straight track, keeping nose down…..begin corners. When teaching corners…..do easy, nice, rounded, five-step corners at first, heavily baited. Best to be sure your dog is very sure and very accurate on these types of corners – right and left – before teaching abrupt 90 degree corners
After your dog has done maybe 50 tracks or so…..and/or over a period of … say 2 months……..begin laying your tracks on various kinds of terrain.
Always KNOW where your track is. Even if the ground is hard packed dirt, you can ‘stomp’ and make an indention…and put your bait in each step…and you will see it. Be careful not to do too many tracks where your dog sees each piece of food. Always hide it if at all possible.
Lay tracks in varied lengths of grass.
Lay tracks in varied sparseness of grass.
Lay tracks when it is wet
Lay tracks when it is dry.
Try to avoid extreme heat. This is unpleasant and difficult for the dog…and should be reserved for when he is a ‘seasoned’ tracker.
Always know where your track is … and help your dog, if necessary. Do not worry that your dog is not ‘perfect’ in these difficult areas of varied terrain. The exposure is important. It will build confidence…for
you…and your dog.
When starting a dog to track…..and placing bait in each footstep, make the footsteps very close together. Each week increase the length. You may do several tracks in one morning….each a little longer than the last. You may even use the SAME tracks….the next day….or the day after.
It is not necessary to have a large area….nor to always have a different area…and you may put your tracks close together.
You may even use your lawn…or any part of your yard….to teach your dog to track.
Do not worry if the dog skips pieces of bait on the track.
When the dog reaches the end, have either a pile of food….or a toy…so that you and he know it is the end.
Some dogs, in the beginning….and even … later….will skip a lot of the bait the first time he does the track…If this is the case with your dog, on the first …. possibly …. dozen tracks … that you and your dog do …. when he finishes the track …. take him back to the beginning and let him do it over….remembering always to put another ‘small’ pile of food….or a toy….at end.
After about a dozen tracks….over a couple of weeks…or more, cease to allow your dog to redo the track…and get the pieces of bait he missed.
If, on future tracks, your dog continues to skip a LOT of the bait,
possibly you are feeding him too much….at other times. Or possibly he just wants to track for the joy of tracking….and pleasing you….and having fun afterwards.
When your dog will do at least 150 paces of straight track, keeping nose down…..with you up close on tracking line……begin moving back on line….keeping same tension on line (no tension)…..then move up again…..and up and back….and up and back…..until you can get out to end of line. Continue this exercise…….throughout tracking career of dog…..including training for FH
Sometimes your dog will get off the track. If your dog gets off the track, in your opinion, because it is difficult for him……subtlety () guide him back onto the track without his knowing he is being guided. Use soothing words such as … find it…succch…with some, but very little actual pressure on the line.
If your dog has gotten off the track, in your opinion, because of lack of interest in tracking, then use a very very very *up* and excited voice, and encourage him with LOTS of enthusiasm. When he appears to make any effort whatsoever, praise praise praise….and keep going. You may need to use more pressure on the line….but ALWAYS try to be subtle with pressure on the line. The dog should never realize he is being physically helped.
It is important that you NOT give too much help…and it is important that you use lots of *feeling*….when helping. This *feeling* cannot be imparted via email. It is something each handler must *develop.*
When training tracking……the majority of the time…….walk out to the left or right side of your dog…..on a short line (6 to 15 feet)…..Stay far enough to right or left of dog…..that you can clearly see his nose and how intense he/she is searching for the track. Concentrate. Watch and learn the ‘tracking style’ of your dog. Learn to be a ‘team’ member…..You and your dog are the team.
Hide the bait on the track In the very beginning…..best even then…..to hide the bait on the track.
Pup or dog should learn to search for the bait without using his eyes. The more hidden the food, the more pup/dog must use nose…..and the sooner he/she will associate ground disturbance with delicious treat.
This sometimes mean, yes, you must bend over and bury *each individual bait* under blades of grass….. or whatever you must do…..so that pup/dog cannot see the bait. Also best to use bait that is similar to color of terrain you are tracking
After you have started turns with your dog…..and after he becomes confident on turns…..once a week do 100 to 150 pace legs *****heavily baited***** in continuous *U* shapes……for a total of 3 *U’s*. After 15 minutes, go approximately 30 paces out standing facing perpendicular to the middle of the first, third and fifth legs. Walk normally and cross the
first, third and fifth legs. Wait 30 more minutes…..then track your dog on short line (8 to 15 ft.)…..When you come to the area that you crossed, be aware and ready to help your dog…..if he is distracted by cross track. Most likely he will not be distracted by cross track. If he is, just help him….by showing him the continuation of the track in a nice calm manner. Never get angry, disgusted, disappointed, impatient. Be a team player….and help your team member.
This should be done in terrain in which the track….nor the cross tracks….are *an obvious* freeway. You should barrrrrely, if at all……be able to see your track……BUT….YOU must know where it is at ALL TIMES. If you don’t know where it is, how can you help your team member? Only the day of the trial do you NOT know where the track is….(unless it’s SchH 1….and even then you’re probably so nervous that you forget where the track is…:-) )..and by then you and your dog are such a team…..that you find it together….. without giving any handler help.