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Training and Obedience > Teaching Your Dog To Track...The Most Efficient Way Possible By Selecting The Right Dog (16 replies)

by James CRAIG on 05 April 2011 - 10:04

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The selection of a tracking dog is one of the most important aspect of successful tracking.
The degree of success you achieve in tracking is not only related to the effectiveness of the training method you adopt but is very much reliant upon the quality of dog you select.

A good tracking dog must posses a very strong urge to chase, play with and carry objects, with vitality and intensity. The intensity of which a dog chases the ball or tug is important however, it’s the determination of which the dog clamps down with his mouth, holds
and resists in giving up the object that is desirable. This test of chasing and playing with you must be conducted in multiple environments and then with multiple distractions. Dogs that are easily distracted while playing with a ball may not make a great tracking dog.

Behaviourists know this behaviour all too well as it is more closely related to hunting than it is to play. This motivation cannot be created where it does not exist and it is inherited from your dog’s parents and ancestors. This instinct is called “prey drive” and it is prevalent
in all great working dogs. Working dog behaviour is goal motivated behaviour; this is the fundamental principal uniting all dogs that work.

A dog performs in order to gain some basic drive or instinct fulfilment. In this case “Prey Instinct”. I must emphasise that contrast is one of the most important teachers in life and one soon realises that prey drive descriptions vary considerably from one person to another. If you are not certain of what intense instinctive prey behaviour is, then please consult a specialist for assistance in selecting your next tracking dog.

An Extract from the new K9 TRACKING BOOK. www.precisiontrackingdogs.com
 

by darylehret on 05 April 2011 - 12:04

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Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 06:58 am

"A good tracking dog must posses a very strong urge to chase, play with and carry objects, with vitality and intensity. The intensity of which a dog chases the ball or tug is important however, it’s the determination of which the dog clamps down with his mouth, holds and resists in giving up the object that is desirable. "
 

 

Really?  Do you really believe so?  Toy driven and possessive is a MUST for tracking success?  Dogfolk I've worked with in the past would primarily use food, via Joanne's methods.  The above description seems like a limited training methodology as any (IOW, specialized), perhaps geared primarily for sport tracking, and excluding particular breeds such as bloodhounds.

by Sunsilver on 05 April 2011 - 14:04

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The best tracker I've ever owned did have toy drive, but she was not possessive of the toys. She just loved to play fetch. However, to me the key to her tracking drive was that she just HAD to have her nose into EVERYTHING! Telling her 'no sniff!' was like asking her not to breathe. When you took her into a hotel room she wouldn't settle until everything in the room had been thoroughly checked out with her nose. And yes, that included the crotches of any strangers! blush

I fail to see how toy drive can be so very important to a tracking dog!


The emphasis on footstep tracking in schutzhund also bothers me. Many excellent tracking dogs use both air scenting and ground scenting to track. Why should we limit our dogs to ground scenting only, and zap them with a shock collar every time they dare lift their heads? Each dog has its own style of tracking. My female doesn't put her nose to the ground if she's in long grass. She prefers to pick up the scent from the grass stems, so she tracks with her head high. I seen nothing wrong with that. The person's clothing brushed the grass stems. Why should that scent be inferior to the one left by their feet? 

by darylehret on 05 April 2011 - 15:04

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"to me the key to her tracking drive was that she just HAD to have her nose into EVERYTHING! Telling her 'no sniff!' was like asking her not to breathe. "
 

Now that, I can wholly agree with!  The matter then becomes, how to communicate your directives, guiding the behavior.

by Slamdunc on 05 April 2011 - 15:04

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Joined: Mon Aug 27, 2007 12:46 am
It really depends on what your tracking goals are.  I agree with the Op's statement for a driven tracking dog.  SchH tracking, Trailing, SAR, area searching and the tracking we do with Police Dogs are all similar and yet distinctively different.  If you understand the purpose and reason behind SchH tracking it is a fun sport to train.  It is a tracking style and a training style.  Different training for different goals and objectives. 


it is too involved to go into the differences between ground disturbance, air scent and scent discrimination training.  Use whatever style works for you or a combination if that works best, just be consistent in your training. 


Jim 

by deacon on 05 April 2011 - 15:04

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Joined: Mon Aug 21, 2006 04:56 am
  I believe a lot depends on the style of tracking to be conducted. As I train only PSD type tracking, not sport, the listed traits above are what I am looking for.

  Phil

by darylehret on 05 April 2011 - 16:04

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Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 06:58 am
I "understand the purpose and reason behind SchH tracking" to demonstrate a level of trainability, even if demonstrating that trainability is applied in ways counterintuitive to it's natural instincts.

A "driven tracking dog" can mean a lot, and while a possessive toy drive is understandably applicable for training article search, in what way would you apply that same sort of drive in your tracking goals?  Obviously, drive is relevant to motivation, so a toy/object is somehow intended as a tracking reward?

by Slamdunc on 05 April 2011 - 21:04

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Joined: Mon Aug 27, 2007 12:46 am
I never use a toy for tracking with my SchH dogs, I do however play with the dog after the completion of the track.  I use food to track and I do like Joanne Plumbs methods and use some of her techniques.  My SchH dogs are very highly motivated to track and are very driven to start and complete the track.  My dogs begin to whine when the see the tracking line coming out.  These are high prey, high hunt drive dogs.  My police K-9 and the other K-9 teams I work with are all also highly motivated to track.  We don't use food with these dogs we use a toy or a decoy as a reward.  Different training styles that can produce highly driven tracking dogs.      

Jim

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