Need Advice On Tracking

Discussion in 'Dog Sports' started by tx_cowgirl, Aug 22, 2011.

  1. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    So, I have bought a couple of books on training a dog to track (Try Tracking! and Scenting on the Wind), and I am not quite getting it I don't think. Scenting on the Wind ended up being a little more advanced than I think I was ready for, and I am about halfway through Try Tracking!.
    Basically, what I'm understanding is you start with a short track and use flags to mark your trail. You are the track, using your feet to shuffle, stomp, and step out a scent trail.
    Here's what I am trying to accomplish.
    I hunt, and I am wanting to teach a dog to follow a blood trail. I use a lot of scent elimination products to do away with human odor, because that's an important part of hunting. Please don't turn this into an anti-hunting rant. Keep your personal opinions to yourself. I'm not just going out there shooting everything in sight and keeping only the head. I try to use as much of the animal as possible so nothing is wasted. So don't judge me.
    Anyway...I don't want to create a dog that is dependent on my scent to follow a trail. For the job he/she will need to do, the trail he/she will have to follow will have very very little if ANY human scent on it at all, so I don't want the dog to think that a trail lacking in human scent is not one to follow. But, how do you lay a trail completely devoid of human scent?

    Also, can a dog learn to follow more than one scent, or is it best to teach them to follow one scent so you know that's what they are following?

    So let me see if I have this right.
    Short trail, about 30-40 steps(according to Try Tracking!), lots of scent and close together(in my case, lots of drops of blood and not spaced out). Lots of treats on the ground to keep them interested. Jackpot at the end. The trail needs to be really fresh--an hour old????
    Then, short trail, less scent or longer trail with the same amount of scent?

    And when do you make it harder? Do you spend a couple days or a week at the easiest one as described above? Do you increase the criteria with length of trail first, or amount of scent, or age of the trail? It seems like if you decreased the scent and increased the length of the trail and aged the trail at the same time it'd be too much; am I wrong?
    Do the dogs immediately start sniffing because it's a new smell? If I were doing this with Mudflap she probably wouldn't even notice; her sense of smell is awful.

    I'm going to re-read Try Tracking! after I finish it. I'm just kind of confused. Any help is appreciated.

  2. ambara Active Member

    Here the dogs in competitions often track both the human who did the trail and the blood but when the same dogs are used to track down hurt moose's etc. they work just fine even without the human scent. We aren't even trying to diminish the human because it probably wouldn't be possible anyways, people just walk normally and drop blood behind them as they walk.

    I was taught that when tracking blood it's much harder if it's too fresh because the scent spreads out a lot when it's fresh. As for making it harder, I guess it depends on the dog and you can probably tell how it's going just by the way he tracks after the first couple of tries. With Hauru I was a beginner and didn't understand how easy tracking is for dogs so I made it way too easy for him. Than I made basically every trail harder than the previous because he wouldn't concentrate = it was too easy for him and he just run through the trail. I now know how to do the trails hard enough so that he actually has to concentrate on what he is doing. We don't use any treats on blood tracking, except at the end a moose hoof or something similar. Only tracking humans is taught by using treats.
  3. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Hmm okay. Thanks for the info! Why no treats for teaching the dog to track blood? Mix of smells? Dilute the strength of the blood scent? Confusion?
  4. ambara Active Member

    I have never asked, actually, but I suspect it's because dogs don't usually need treats to be interested in blood tracking and because they are expected to track in a more natural manner. I don't know if I can explain this well in English but in field tracking that's (at least here) also a part of protection work, dog is supposed to walk right on top of the track with nose deep down in the ground. Looks nice and makes sense to humans but that's not natural to them so it needs to be taught with treats. In forest and especially when tracking blood dogs are allowed to track the way that makes sense to them even if it isn't as "correct" in human way of thinking. The scent moves around and isn't always right on top of the actual trail etc. and humans have no way of knowing the way the scent trail actually behaves so it's best to trust the dog and let it do it's thing without interfering (of course if the dog is obviously lost or tracking something it's not supposed to than he needs to be guided but... you understand what I mean I hope).
  5. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    I think I know what you're talking about. I've read in a couple of books that many dogs are discouraged from sniffing anywhere but the ground, but some trainers encourage the dog to track however they can--even if their heads are in the air, since scent does hang in the air as well. I'm guessing that's what you are referring to.
    Thanks for the help! :)

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