We’ve had all kinds of exciting things happen over the last 3 weeks.
Last weekend we went to a tracking workshop presented by someone who owns some of Griffin’s relatives. Her dogs have been very successful in AKC tracking (following the scent of a person over varied terrain). Her presentation was very good and it was exciting to see so many people attend and ask really great questions.
I am not crazy about tracking -I like more active training than setting up puzzles for dogs to solve, but I can see how this will be very beneficial to my dogs. Scent related activities tend to be something my dogs are weak at (indicating it’s me…more than lack of capabilities of the dog/s) and this will give us a structured way to work through this. My dogs have been started in tracking training with a different method and I really should follow through and hope I have the motivation to make it happen!
The presentation was very good at indicating what the final goals are and then outlining the training to get there. It’s both fairly simple (start with a short distance. Gradually increase. Gradually add in variation) but also complex (humidity, moisture, temperature, hills will all influence what happens). I do think it’s important for us to try new/different things to be sure I keep having experiences as a learner and to see other kinds of activities.
Here’s a video of our friend doing tracking training about 8 years ago! Bailey lies down when she finds the ‘articles’ I dropped when I made the track.
We typically add our cues after the behavior is established.
I’ve come across a few very ‘elegant’ examples of cueing that I emailed to Megan this morning…. but the world would probably enjoy them too.
Steve White only adds in the tracking harness after the tracking behavior is fairly well established. Lining the harness cue to the behavior of tracking.
I was reading a book that talked about how a group of math teachers only add in the terminology cues/names AFTER the students have been practicing the skill and have an understanding of it. They don’t need the name to be able to do the skill… but the cue/name is put to it after they ‘get it’.
The simplicity and brilliance with both of these makes me so very, very happy. Why didn’t I think of these?!
On Saturday the goldens and I went to a tracking workshop. I took Blaze and Griffin… and was intending to flip a coin to determine the working dog. But, it ended up being activities I thought Griffin would get more out of. I intended to work Blaze when we did articles, but Blaze ended up working the whole session.
We started with some discussion about what tracking is and the requirements for the tests and then went out for some training.
The first few activities were to get the dogs to understand the difference between stepped-on-grass-dirt and not-stepped-on-grass. We stomped out circles (and throughout the middle) while dropping treats. The dogs were then brought out to find stopped grass=treats and regular grass= nothing.
After a number of repetitions, we went to straight lines and then a 90* angle. Articles were added when we did straight lines with food on top and under the article.
Griffin was great. Other than his loose leash walking parts. He was PULLING and SNIFFING when going from the car to the track or the end of the track to the car. I ended up just holding his collar and leading him that way.
But his tracking was very enthusiastic, he would work even ~20′ from the neighbors barky dog’s fence line, even with someone standing and talking to us as he worked. And when he finished THEN he would turn and jump to greet.
We’ve done a handful of tracking sessions at home, but I did not expect the level of focus or enthusiasm he gave me.
The only disappointment for me was the level of emphasis placed on article indication and the very little time spent actually training it. I’m still not sure what will be best for Griffin and Blaze and how to transition to a good working response. Griffin should be straight forward with training it in another setting and getting the behavior on the tracks… but Blaze has spent 6 weeks with 1-2 weeks with a different article indication training method and essentially no improvement.
We’ll keep working and probably try for a test in the spring.