Never joined in with your dogs tracking habit before?
Can I persuade you to try this little exercise?
Please study the video below alongside the text. Have fun!
- You need a track layer. (And the track layer needs to be a quiet and calm person).
- You also need a nice harness that won’t tighten on your dog and a long line (10 metres – ish).
- A handful of treats.
- A small, safe article, we used a flat leather wallet, (something that will lay unobtrusively on the ground and won’t harm your dog if s/he picks it up).
- And a safe space where you, your dog and your track layer can concentrate, it doesn’t have to be grass, but it does need to be safe, away from cars and interruptions. Needless to say, you must have permission to be there!
Line yourself up behind your track layer. Hold on to the line, this makes you the handler. Try as hard as you can not to interrupt your dog as s/he he concentrates on watching your track layer. No need for your dog to be sitting, staying or listening to talking. Better if s/he chooses (without coercion) to watch the track layer. Your track layer is going to walk away from you, (4 paces) in a straight line, put a marker into the ground, walk straight on for another 4 paces, put another marker in the ground. Then the track layer will step just in front of the second marker (we say “have the pole up your bottom” so that heels are close to the base). Then the track layer places one lovely, scrumptious treat by the heels at the base of the second marker before walking straight on for another 8 paces. At 8 paces from the second marker the track layer will put your special, small article on the floor alongside (about 8 inches apart) a handful of lovely scrumptious treats. And finally, your track layer walks on a further 4 paces, turns round and stands still and quiet. Track layers, please don’t call the dog (yet). Just wait. If the dog hasn’t managed to keep his/her attention on the track layer, maybe then the track layer could make the tiniest noise needed to get his/her attention and then quiet again.
Handlers please keep trying not to interrupt your dog. When the track layer is done, walk together (you and your dog) to the first marker. But! Your dog gets to go to the second marker by himself/herself. This means that you need to stand still at marker one and allow the line to pull carefully through your hands. Your aim is twofold, 1) to not drop the line on the floor, and 2) also to not pull back against your dog. You are trying to find an even tension as your dog moves smoothly away from you. If you are afraid to let the line slide through your fingers, maybe wear some light, non wool gloves. Oh, and try to keep your eyes up otherwise you will watch your dog and either your gaze will keep him/her stuck at the marker, or, your eyes will tell you to stop your dog 🙁 Wait at your marker until your dog pulls the line smoothly past the second marker and moves, nose down, along the track (the place where your track layer walked). Then, when your dog is moving, walk forward and follow him/her towards the track layer. When s/he finds the treats and article let your dog know how proud you are of him/her, spend as long as you think it will take for him/her to realise how impressed you are with his/her nose skills. Most dogs will then want to go up to the track layer to make the ‘find’. This is an important step for your dog. Luckily, your dog has done lots of tracking and we hope that you had fun attempting your first track. Join us on a course for your next steps.
Congratulations on making a start.
Please share with someone else who has never tried a little track.