Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tracking Is Tough On Marriage

Stephen and I did some tracking on Sunday with Reagan and Riley. This was the third session for the girls. It was very cold and windy. Stephen was not properly reading my mind :-) and it was frustrating being that it was bone chilling cold and I was trying to track a greyhound who is cold even in our climate controlled house (Reagan). I needed to get her moving and tracking ASAP. Of course, if I had bothered to give Stephen clear instructions before getting Reagan out of the van, it might have gone smoother and faster.

Here is one of Reagan's attempts. I am following the training plan in the book Enthusiastic Tracking. All in all, I think Reagan got the short end of the stick that day due to our poor planning.

Like I said, it was very windy. We laid the tracks into the wind as suggested, but she still did a lot of casting from side to side.

I think Riley did a little better for Stephen. It probably helped that I was laying the tracks I wanted myself.

Anyone with tracking experience, please feel free to comment. I do not know what I am doing. :-)


alex said...

Scent tracking with sighthounds- you continue to Amaze me!! (We are just thrilled that Hero sits)lol

Stephen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephen said...

I'd like to add that Allie did very well, too. Especially considering she was working long tracks with hideously fast crosswinds. Every chicken neck was found and promptly swallowed, sans chewing...

BrittBeah said...

I so don't have the patience for tracking. Good luck!

Tarmar said...

How long were your tracks and how often were your food drops? Did you age the track or was it fresh?

You may want to back up and put down more food drops. She could need more motivation. You also might consider feeding her meal to her at the glove. That is what I did with my first greyhound. We were tracking in Kansas in the winter. It was cold and windy and nasty there too!

The casting is not a bad thing in the beginning. It is part of the learning process. As Reagan swings her nose from side to side casting, she is discovering that the treats are found only on the track.

The most important thing is to make sure that tracking is fun and rewarding for the dog.

What were you using for treats?

F.I.L. said...

Stephen'll probably get it - just might need refresher clicker training himself. And more treats?

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Tamar, the last track was about 30-40 yrds. Food drop every 5 yrds (or at least that was the attempt). I usally put something of higher value in the glove than what I use normally. Red Barn was on the track and hamburger was in the article.

Thanks for the advice.


Marie said...

Grrrr I just typed a whole long comment and the computer ate it. I LOVE tracking!

OK shorter answer.

www.pawmark.com LOVE their sure fit tracking harnesses.

My fav tracking books: Following Ghosts, developing the tracking relationship by Suzanne Clother and John Rice. Practical Scent dog training by Lou Button. (great info on wind direction and air scenting) Novice Nosework and Track laying 101 by Ed Presnall are a must for anyone thinking of trying for a TD.

My tips from watching the video clips: You need to be behind your dog more. They need to learn to work in front of us or they will rely on you for direction. (disclaimer I haven't read the book you mention so perhaps it is part of that program) Try to only gesture if they stop and are stuck. I use it as a last resort. Instead take a couple of steps forward on the known track and let them work it out for themselves.

Start using the long line now so you learn how best to handle it. People make it look easier than it really is. Dealing with tangles and fetch ups is a must. Not to mention when your dog back tracks and you need to pick it back up or get it out of their way. The dogs also need to get used to working around it and not be distracted by it. Also I mark mine with a marker at the required distance for AKC work so I know where I need to be behind my dog.

I use a bird hunting vest so I can put found scent articles in the back pocket as I pick them up. It is also a good place to put the first article in case you need to rescent your dog.

I also keep a log of each track. I map the area and mark the track I layed. Then I go back and mark where the dog actually followed the track. I include the weather conditions and wind direction. This way you can chart training progress and better trouble shoot any problems.

I am not an expert by any means but Tracking is a sport I really love doing and watching. My mentor's motto has always been TRUST YOUR DOG! (and yes usually yelled at me) Most mistakes in tracking is over interferance by the handlers in her opinion.

I used to worry about to much extra outside scent in an area. Then I saw dog pass a TD in the middle of a cow pasture with the stench of cow patties EVERYWHERE. The ability of a dogs nose is amazing.

I hope this helps. I can't wait to get started my spring tracking. I am a wuss though and am waiting for it to be just a little warmer.

Have fun!

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Thanks for more great advice everyone!

Father-In-Law, I will definitely get started on Stephen's training refresher!


Jess said...

Neat! I was just telling Rainy yesterday that we might try tracking when it gets nicer out. She was following a squirrel trail... :) I was just planning on making my own rules up! I had no clue other people did this.

I'm going to blend up some meat and water in a blender, then use a squirt bottle to zig zag around a bit outside, and put a yummy treat at the end. I figure if I start out with the lines really short she will figure it out on her own. Guess I'm not that original!