Thursday, June 16, 2005

heckuva crosstrack

I went out to lay a track this morning, about the same time that Roger brought the earthmoving equipment to fill in an old discovered septic tank and do some grading in the field. I thought I'd left adequate room, but the dozer went right by our track. Of course, Laev is tracking the scents of disturbed earth and crushed vegetation as well as human scents...! So she was very interested in finding what had made such a huge track!

She was a little distracted on the track itself. I started with a puppy tracking square, just 3x3' of tamped grass and kibble, and she kept looking outside the square for the track. She self-corrected each time, going back into the square, so she got to keep working -- I would not have allowed her to finish and reward herself if she couldn't stay in the square -- but she really, really wanted to be following a track.

Then we moved to the track, which had her morning cup of kibble on it. I think she ate maybe five kibbles in all. I am "tapping" her back, keeping her slow and on the track with little half-halts (how on earth would I train without an equestrian background?), but she's just not really interested in eating while she's tracking. Maybe I should up the food value again, but I don't want to start relying on hot dogs, etc., on the track.

Track had two 45-degree angles, two ninety-degree turns, and went through some pricklies. She wasn't really on task during the prickly part, but I think it was more the change in vegetation type -- no grass, just weeds -- rather than any discomfort. She was pretty excited to find where the grass started again and got back to work.

Our only real trouble spot was near the end; I ended near a fenceline and the gate had been moved to make room for the dozer, so I had to pass pretty near my final leg in order to get out. As luck would have it, the west crosswind was blowing toward that escape route and Laev wanted to drift toward it a little and then, catching its scent, wanted to take that instead. I kept her on task, though, and she finished well.

Then she got to track the BIG dozer track all the way to the septic tank work site, where she met a worker and watched the pumping preparatory to filling. Good girl.


Connie said...

This is so interesting! Your tracking is so different from the way that SAR dogs are trained. It's just fascinating how many different specific skills are taught to dogs for similar and yet sometimes very different goals (thinking here of tracking for police work, SAR, and then obedience/Schutzhund (sp?) for sport).

I found your blog from one of your posts at SPT. (:

Anonymous said...

Only anonymous so I don't need to register right now....
Could you write about or post a link about "beginning tracking"? I have no idea how to start. For example, when you "lay a track" what are you using? Certainly not your footsteps because they could be all over the yard. I get the kibble as the reward for staying on track...but what exactly is the track?
Lost track!
Nancy (

PS I live in St. Louis and tried to find you at Purnia Farms, but got there too late. Oh, time!