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

Posts: 1
Joined: Mon May 31, 2010 08:39 pm
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

Posts: 2670
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

Posts: 6692
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2007 09:04 pm
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

Posts: 2670
Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 06:58 am

"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

Posts: 4944
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

Posts: 252
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

Posts: 2670
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

Posts: 4944
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

by deacon on 05 April 2011 - 22:04

Posts: 252
Joined: Mon Aug 21, 2006 04:56 am
  The same for my PSD teams withthe exception there will always be a quarry at the end. I want my dogs from the very first track to know he is hunting a human, not food or  a toy. How the quarry acts upon being located varies, but I want him using all his senses to locate the individual(s) at the end. Hence I teach articles off the track. I want the dog to either find the guy first, then attempt to locate the evidence backtracking.

by darylehret on 06 April 2011 - 02:04

Posts: 2670
Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 06:58 am

Well then, I hope you can both clearly understand my failure to see drive and possessiveness for objects as somehow being a direct correlation of their aptitude for tracking, and instead are really just a means for motivating.  What that implies, is that it's OK to select for a specialized behavior that's conducive to one's training limitations.
         Ttth 

by Slamdunc on 06 April 2011 - 03:04

Posts: 4944
Joined: Mon Aug 27, 2007 12:46 am
I didn't expect that you would understand. If seems we may be getting caught up in semantics or something is lost in translation. I have no problem understanding Deacon, but he has taught dogs to track. I do agree that I have training limitations I realized that by actually going out and training, certifying and titling dogs. I certainly see a correlation between drive, desire to work and motivation to perform a given task. I suppose that is where my limitations come in.

by Chaz Reinhold on 06 April 2011 - 04:04

Posts: 1454
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 04:59 pm
Well I'm just waiting for the e-collar dude to post. Who really gives a spit? We're all internet training dogs and as long as they get the job done, that's all that matters. Like I said before, if you have something that works, don't fix it. I'm a sportster. If someone thinks their way is better, by all means. Tracking, Obedience and protection are all something most of us do, but we are all in different venues. I like SchH, but I understand that most of it is rediculous if I were to train a PPD or PSD. They are two different things. I may even look for different things in a dog compared to another SchH person. No Biggie. We all have our own style, just like dogs.

by darylehret on 06 April 2011 - 11:04

Posts: 2670
Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 06:58 am
Not passing judgement, but admit to testing your thresholds a bit.  Drive, motivation, desire to work, or NOT be shocked, etc. is obviously required to mold the behaviors that we want from our dogs, in EVERYTHING we train, and not limited to tracking.  Most cases, we achieve this with some form of a reward, being either toys or food.  Rarely enough, some are given the opportunity to appreciate a dog-handler relationship that is motivated by the reward of simply having interaction with the handler, for the praise, the dog's aim to please, pack drive.  Basically, for most things we train, we use what the dog values most.  This serves as our basis for communication with the dog, but is NOT a measure of the talents locked within, awaiting our coaxing and guidance for whatever methods we choose to apply.

So I agree, semantics is perhaps the issue I have with what the OP has attempted to pass off as some sort of revelation in what best serves the working purpose of tracking.  When he also states "Dogs that are easily distracted while playing with a ball may not make a great tracking dog," I have to wonder what the basis for that statement could be.  Unusual for many dogs to get distracted from a ball in the first place, but what if the dog dropped the ball, and began sniffing out a track?  Or, he has inadequately explained again, not directly in reference to the toy, but in the dog's ability to concentrate and remain on task.  Teaching it from a misguided perspective just doesn't do anyone justice.

by Slamdunc on 06 April 2011 - 16:04

Posts: 4944
Joined: Mon Aug 27, 2007 12:46 am
Rarely enough, some are given the opportunity to appreciate a dog-handler relationship that is motivated by the reward of simply having interaction with the handler, for the praise, the dog's aim to please, pack drive.  Basically, for most things we train, we use what the dog values most.  This serves as our basis for communication with the dog, but is NOT a measure of the talents locked within, awaiting our coaxing and guidance for whatever methods we choose to apply.

I'm not sure what to make of your statement.  I agree that you need to use what the dog values the most to get the dog to perform at it's highest level.  I love my job and enjoy going to work everyday.  I work hard and get immense satisfaction from what I do.  As much as I enjoy my work, I do it for a paycheck.  If I didn't love my job the paycheck alone would be a big disappointment.  It is mediocre compensation for the job I do.  The paycheck and my "various drives" to perform my job keep me going back every night and working hard. 

I have rarely seen a dog perform at a high level in tracking, protection, or apprehension work simply out of pack drive or it's desire to please the handler.  Some dogs do perform well in obedience purely for praise, but they are rare.  I will use everything I can to motivate my dog to perform well that includes praise, it's pack drive and every other drive I can tap into.  Praise and pack drive only go so far in motivating a dog and will not sustain the high level of performance that I require for most of the tasks my dog performs repetitively every day. 

I just evaluated 12 potential PSD's and purchased a new dog for our dept last Friday.  I did test the "socialability" of each dog but testing pack drive and the desire to please it's handler is virtually impossible.  These dogs just came into a vendor from Europe and have no bond with me or the new handler, so there is no "pack" to speak of or any desire to please me.   I have to rely on many other tests to rate their various drives.  We don't track with the dogs but every dog we select turns out to be great tracking dogs.

JMO FWIW,

Jim

 

by darylehret on 06 April 2011 - 19:04

Posts: 2670
Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 06:58 am
I'm really not trying to put all the spotlight on pack drive, whatever works works.  A dog with high motivation for the toy could be trained for a lot of things beyond tracking, because of that motivation, not because of being particularly better at the task.  But maybe when that high toy drive doesn't fall within the scope of your training methodology for some particular dog that obviously has the capabilities or talents you require, then we need to examine our methods, rather than insist on a particular selection criteria that we believe is more efficient because of those methods.  The fault might not be the dog, but what we're looking for in the dog, how we've limited ourselves in our approach to training, in our way of communicating.  We are selecting dogs that work best for the methods we train.  That's no different than how the impact of schutzhund sport has recently come to define this breed, rather than measure it's actual working fitness.
 

by Slamdunc on 06 April 2011 - 21:04

Posts: 4944
Joined: Mon Aug 27, 2007 12:46 am
Daryl,
I use what ever works best for the dog, not what works best for me.  I will use a clicker, ball or a tug to train various tasks.  However, a dog with low prey drive or hunt drive will not cut it as a high level sport or Police K-9.  A dog with super high pack drive or a super high desire to please may wind up being to soft or sensitive for what I need.  I want a dog that can work independently and wants to work for it's satisfaction or fulfillment of it's drives in addition to wanting to work with me. 

I don't see the impact of SchH being a detriment to the breed as much as breeders who do not x-ray, test, title or compete in some fashion with their dogs.  There are far more dogs being produced by breeders with no experience with working dogs or training dogs.  The people titling the dogs they breed and keeping puppies back to work themselves and title are benefiting the breed.  The ones breeding dogs to run in circles in the show ring and not doing anything else have a far greater impact on the breed.  Just as the breeders buying working line or show line dogs and advertising their litters as working dogs but never work the parents.  I love the ad for the 100 lb solid lacquer black Troll lineage pups on the PDB, advertised as working dogs.  The problem with SchH is people taking dogs with one SchH title in the pedigree and advertising the dogs as working dogs. 

At least the SV has some requirements to breed; flawed as it may be.  Blaming SchH for the decline of the GSD is really not accurate.   

by darylehret on 07 April 2011 - 01:04

Posts: 2670
Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 06:58 am
My criticism is in no way directed at you, but the scope of the book described in the OP.  I understand, and I do the same; what works best for each individual dog.  I gotta say though, I've never owned a clicker or an e-collar.  Just personal preference.  I'm sure the book's methods would work well for my personal training style, and most all of my dogs.  I just don't agree with it's most basic premise in selecting a prospect.  That kind of drive is useful for all forms of training, and not a direct measure of it's ability to follow a scent trail.

But the breeders you describe are really not a problem, because those aren't the breeders we go to when we seriously want a working prospect.  For those first time buyers that learn the hard way because they didn't put a lot of forethought or research into their search for a prospect, the dog is washed out and they purchase a more fitting dog next go round, when they've had some hands-on and have found out what it takes.

The real detriment to the breed, are the breeders who by appearances have put on a good show, seeming to meet the standards with exceeding quality, but producing dogs that barely get by.  The problem being, that they DO get by.  They attract more serious first-time handlers that actually make an effort, to achieve their credentials of mediocre acceptance into the legacy of the breed.

The handlers that fail miserably learn the most and start all over, then there's the ones who squeek by.

Yes, there are a number opportunists making a fad out of producing pretty pets from the workinglines.  But keep in mind, what's produced by them are always soon forgotten, and certainly not built upon with much popular success.  Even when all the dogs their pedigree are titled. 

You must be logged in to reply to posts




Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!