01-04-2011, 04:15 PM
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: South Australia
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I hope I'm not tramping on any toes here, but thought I'd post how I taught my dogs to track. I teach my dogs for a very specific purpose - we trial under ANKC rules (Australian kennel club) and I train my dogs to pass tests under these rules.
These rules ask the dog to follow scent over the ground - the purpose is to follow the path the person took exactly, not to find the person directly. (i.e. the dog needs to ground scent, not air scent)
One of the big cues for our dogs is the start flag, a tracking harness, and a long line. All these things say to the dog, "We want you to use your nose now." However, if my dog didn't have some of these cues, they'd probably still track. These cues at the beginning of a track say loudly and clearly, "You are tracking now" - it's a great help!
To begin training, I put my dog on harness and put a start flag in the ground. Our cues start early!
Then I got a friend to hold something my dog really likes. Clover is just nuts about tennis balls, so this was an obvious choice, but I'm also helping people train their dogs using tasty sausage, etc. I get my friend to show the dog the tennis ball/food/whatever and then walk away, only about 5 metres, and hide behind a tree. The dog watches this happen, and then we simply follow the path the friend went.
From here, it is simply a matter of increasing distance and complexity. Longer courses, courses with distractions (e.g. cross tracks), courses with corners, steep slopes, etc.