RH Title and Tracking Question? - Page 1

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by belgin on 24 January 2021 - 21:01

I am wondering if anyone has current information on the status of the RH titles with USCA or even AWDF? The most recent discussion I can find in the archives of PDB is from 2016 and I'm not able to find any current information anywhere else. I've looked at the USCA website but need to join before I can access that section. The German Shepherds.com forum had a long discussion about RH titles but that was in 2011.

I have a 4 yr old female WGSL GSD that I would perhaps like to train for the RH title, if it still exists. She is a titled agility dog so that part of the test would be very doable, although I'd have to work on her heel. Then there's the tracking...We were training for area search with a local SAR team until I pulled us out due to several issues. Since then I continue to do some air scent with her as well as tracking. I'm currently teaching tracking using a Leerburg video, the whole "nose to the ground all the time" type of tracking that is much different from the trailing done in SAR. The bloodhound tracked that way, not the other dogs. But I'm certainly wiling to try this. I'm moving forward step by step, trying to slow her down (lots of drive and she thinks she is going to find someone at the end) and keep her directly on the tracks. She is certainly enjoying the hot dogs she's finding along the way.

There are so many methods of training tracking/trailing that it is difficult to know how to go about it. I also recently worked with a well-know local trainer who has done SAR for years and her methods were great, however, my dog certainly didn't stay right on the track like she needs to for an FH title.

My goal is to do what's best for my dog and I would hope to earn her RH or FH title at some point in time. However, I may go for the AKC title if it seems more reasonable and is closer to home. I'm in Southern Oregon and most if not all USCA trials are at least 4 hours away. There are a few IPG local trainers I can probably work with on tracking, however, one thing I've learned is that it is important to glean absolutely as much as I can about what I want to learn before I enlist a trainers help.

Thanks for your input! Beckie and Gretel


by astrovan2487 on 26 January 2021 - 16:01

Your best bet until Covid is over might be a USCA club, if any near you offer RH. They use US judges whereas DVG as of now I believe can only use European judges. I know there was at least one RH USCA trial last year, the DVG club Im in tried to have one but because of Covid travel restrictions we couldn't get a European judge to come over.

As far as tracking goes, I know many people who have amazing SAR dogs but when they try to do FH's they either dont pass or get low scores, that style of tracking is not what the judge is looking for even if the dog is obviously talented and driven. They want the same foot step to foot step nose to the ground tracking that they would for the 1-3 levels of IPO/IGP/Schutzhund. I've yet to see anyone start a dog in realistic tracking do well in sport tracking.  In my opinion trying to title a dog to FH that is older and has been allowed to air scent from the begining would be a ton of work with a very little chance of sucess.  

However for RH the rules for both tracking and obedience are not as strict so your dog would most likely do ok with it. The tracking does not need to be exact foot step to foot step and the dog can air scent somewhat. With the obedience you dont need the perfect, flashy heeling to do well, its more about functionality and control.
I'm doing RH training with my dog that started in sport and its alot of fun. So many things transfer over to RH and the dog really enjoys it. Id highly recommend it to anyone who's dog has a sport or SAR foundation and wants to do something fun, yet challenging with their dog.

Here is a link for the recent rules

by jillmissal on 28 January 2021 - 09:01

It's really such a shame that the sport is so fixated on the rigid, forced style of tracking. It would be such a joy to see more natural tracking at the competitions. I get so sad when I see a dog with a joy and drive for tracking being forced into such a false-looking "picture;" I train tracking the way I like it and accept the low scores in the sport because I don't want my dogs tracking the way "they" want. It's the thing that turns me off to IGP the most. I don't want to make my dogs track that way. Just my opinion of course.

One of my dogs holds the unofficial Canadian record for fastest TD, which was pretty exhilarating (and tiring); and a lot more fun than plodding behind a slow moving dog looking for hot dogs in the grass and knowing it's not allowed to lift its head for any reason even if the scenting is better higher up.

I've also had no problem training air scenting dogs to track, so the idea of it being impossible to do so is just silly.

There's no reason you can't retrain to a different style of tracking, but if you already have a good tracking dog why not chase other tracking titles that are more to the style in which you've been training? Either that or just track the way you track, accept the low score and just hope you get a "pass" enough to get the title?

by astrovan2487 on 28 January 2021 - 18:01

Personally I love sport tracking, I think its amazing to see a dog that has the control and drive to stay so focused on one exact specific thing, sometimes for 20-30 mins on a longer track. But I respect that many dont like it, plenty of RH, AKC, SAR titles and certifications that dont have those rules that won't make you retain your dog to do well. Most are pass/fail tests vs. points based.

Never heard anyone say its impossible to teach an air scenting dog to do sport tracking, they just aren't going to do well, you will get low points as was pointed out. Some people are ok with that and just want the title, completely depends on your goals and expectations.

There aren't a ton of titled sport dogs that can even do an FH so might want to start off at the entry level tracking titles that resemble the IPO1, 2, 3 if you decide to go the sport tracking route. You can get a title in just the tracking phase. The entry level RH track is extremely similar to the IPO1 track.

by belgin on 02 February 2021 - 01:02

Thank you both for your responses. I think I'll contact the USCA and see if there are clubs offering RH anywhere near me. I imagine I'll have to drive down into California to do that but would be worth it. And I'll need to give more thought to how I want to train my dog for tracking. It really is a challenge for me to micro-manage her for the Schutzhund type of tracking, but so far she's doing pretty well with it. I don't use the harsh corrections I've seen on videos, that is not what I want to do with my dog. If we can't get it right using primarily positive training, we'll do something else. 


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