Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tracking - Part One

Part One - Building motivation to the glove
When I first started tracking three years ago, the method used involved dropping food along a track to teach the dog to follow a track. You eventually fade the food so the dog learns to follow the scent on the track to get to the reward (glove/treat) at the end of the track. After a few months of tracking, winter came and I got focused on obedience training and did not get back to tracking until this spring.

The food drop method works great for some people, but I felt Jackson and Jolee were lacking in motivation to find the glove. Then I came across a website that described another method of training, which focused on building motivation.

In this method, you start close in with the glove and treat in sight and get the dog excited to get to the treat. You gradually lengthen the distance. At first the dog is finding the glove by sight, but the theory is that as you lengthen the distance and the glove is out of sight, the dog will transition to using the scent of the track to find the glove. That's a real quick and dirty explanation. If you would like more detail on this method go to this Basset Hound website.

We've just started this method and I'm really liking it. We're still at the very beginning stages of it and I'm excited about how motivated the dogs are to find the glove. I don't know how the transition will go to finding the glove by scent, but we're having fun with this stage of it.

The video shows Jolee first with the initial exercise of getting the dog excited about the glove. Then I taped a couple short tracks with Jackson, who is surprisingly motivated to find the glove : )

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Dog friends are the best!

I received this photo recently and was reminded why I love dog training - it's so much about the friends you make along your journey :)

The photo is of the decorated cake that my training friends surprised me with at one of our training club meetings shortly after Jackson earned his UDX. The relationhip you build with your dog through obedience training is great, but having friends to share it with enriches it all the more!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Nose Knows

Now that we're retired from the obedience ring, we're getting into nose work - and really having a lot of fun with it. I was reading Laurie Luck's article, introduction to nose work, and thought it looked like a fun thing to do. I went out and bought some cardboard boxes to get started. Unfortunately they were too big. The dogs didn't want to put their heads in the boxes to get the treats, so we improvised by laying the boxes on their sides. I think I may need to start over with some properly sized boxes. Anyway, this was our first attempt.

In addition to working with the boxes, I've started playing 'find it' games with Jackson at the club where we train. He has really taken to these games and is getting really good at finding treats I've hidden around the training building. What's really been interesting is how it's carrying over into his motivation for tracking. We went tracking yesterday and I had to run to keep up with him - he was so motivated to 'find' the glove. I'm starting a new method to teach tracking that seems to be more motivating to find the glove than using the traditional food drops. I'll post more about that as we get into it.