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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am tracking my 5 month old GSD puppy 4 or 5 times a week, 1 or 2 tracks a day. Still straight tracks (about 20 25 yards long at the most) & still food in each footstep. I am finding that he is so hyped up at the start of the track& is going too fast (missing hot dogs for approx the first 5 feet!) I'm still using the leash under the leg technique & keeping him between my legs & my hand down at his body for control, but he's getting big & strong & I would like to nip this problem in the bud before he gets any stronger. I'm wondering if I should go back to just doing scent pads for a while & getting him to really settle down & stay platzed, then just move him off the scent pad without making a track until he gets the idea to start in a more calm manner. My thinking is that he is rushing because maybe I didn't do enough scent pad work in the beginning? Does this sound right to anyone, or does anyone have other suggestions?
Thanks,
Sue
 

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Remember, this is still a hyper young pup. At 5 months old they'll have "brainfarts" (my dad introduced me to that phrase :roll: ) and forget how to mind. IMO, you need to get more leash control on this dog. Don't allow him to surge ahead while tracking. Also, you may have not done enough scent pad work, like you said, for him to be more careful.
I train young dogs and puppies to track by doing exactly what you are doing: place a tiny amount of food in each footstep. I also make sure the dog is extremely hungry, so then they'll want every single piece of the food (usually beef liver or freeze-dried chicken treats) and won't skip it over. I also make sure, however, to lay a scent pad at the beginning and at the end. At the very first trainings, all I teach the dog is to smell the scent pad and to recognize that "Seek" (or whatever command you choose to use) means, "Get that nose down and sniff to find some good stuff!" I put treats all over the scent pad, then gradually reduce them to be triangular in shape. Make sure you introduce tracking flags from the beginning, because the dog will learn that to the right of the flag will be the track and therefore rewards!
After teaching the dog to begin taking scent at the scent pad, I will start the footstep baited tracking. To get the dog's interest spiked, I will crate the dog in hearing range, and call to him and tease him, so he WANTS to track and get the prize at the end. I make sure I always have someone else with me to get the harness on and untangle my tracking line before I head back to the dog. Therefore we can start immediately on the track, instead of frustrating the dog by spending time hooking him up, etc. Any sort of delay at the start can quickly kill that enthusiasm I kicked up with the calling and teasing. I also point out every single footstep treat, so the dog learns to work carefully. As soon as the dog starts to get it, I stop pointing out the bait and I let the dog do it himself. I usually keep a very short leash on them at this point, 2-3 ft at the most. At the end of the track, the dog always finds a whole bunch of food, and also it's favorite toy. Then, we engage in play for a few minutes to reinforce the idea that when they reach the end of the track there is a fun and rewarding experience!
After the dog has been doing this for a few weeks (depending on the time spent every week) I VERY slowly begin reducing the bait. This way the dog still scents out every footstep. Once you start reducing the bait, you'll need to introduce the articles. These need to be hand size or smaller, as well as a variety of fabrics and materials. I like leather gloves or simply squares and cloth scraps. At a few trials I've been at, all the articles have been were squares of leather and/or cloth. Also, make sure the material used is the same darkness or lightness of the surrounding grasses. We want the dog to scent the article out, not just rush forward because they see it!
I could practically write a book here about teaching tracking, but I'll leave you with this: I would recommend you review the requirements for SchH tracking and train to meet them. I, personally, like to over-train a dog, such as train to a SchH2 level before trying for a SchH1. It won't hurt anything, it may take a little longer, but the stress of the trial (which you WILL have) won't affect the dog as badly as if he was only trained for the SchH1 level. Go to a very good trainer or SchH club with very experienced members that can assist you in tracklaying techniques and training. Remember, if you fail tracking (like obedience and protection), you fail the trial.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yes, I pretty much do the same as you, but have not tried laying a scent pad at the end of the track, however, it sounds like a great idea & I'm going to give it a go. As far as the line goes, at this stage I hold the leash down at the shoulder, just above his arm pit, so I don't think it's an issue of too much line. I am definetly going to just put down some scent pads for the next few days & see if that helps. I agree control is a big issue with high drive dogs.

As far as nerves & trials, that has always been my down fall with all my previous gsd's! I'm hoping with the new pup it will be different. You know, I just might pop a valium to get over myself at trials. I've had permormance issues going back to childhood, so I'd really like some advise on that, too.
 

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What kind of advice do you need?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I guess I 'm looking to find out how other people who get overly nervous before a trial calm down. Do you think it's a matter of trialing enough times to get over it, or are there specific things to do not be so anxious? I know lots of lucky people who are not fazed by any type of competitive events, but unfortunately I do not fall into that category! :oops:
 

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I was quite nervous the first 5 trials, just because I was so new to the sport back then. I think a combination of knowing what the hell I was doing, and knowing my dog can do it calmed me. I also listen to music that puts me in a good, calm state of mind. For me, it's Jimmy Buffett (c'mon, I'm a Florida girl, I HAVE to like him. lol). I just like running the whole trial through my mind and remind myself (as cheesy as it sounds) that I will do the best I can. I also have a weird thing about my agitation collar. I only use one on any dog for trialing. I guess a "lucky collar" type superstition? I know, I know, I'm weird. But I know this isn't uncommon by far!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The music is a good idea, so is the lucky agitation collar. I guess what you are saying is be prepared & have confidence? I posed this same question to Connie in a pm, she also had some good advise: Whats the worst that can happen?

Thanks a lot for your advise & I will take it to heart.
 

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If you need any other advice or anything, just PM me. Connie's advice is pretty much also what I go in thinking. If I don't title at this trial, I'm not going to die or get harmed. Yes, maybe a little pride will be hurt, but it's always good to keep that in check anyways.
 

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Not to steal your thread, Susan, but since it's been mentioned so many times in this conversation, would someone mind telling me how to properly lay a scent pad and then exactly what I need to be doing/looking for when I take my puppy to it?

I have a general idea of what to do, but I never got very far with Jaeger in tracking - he's always just wanted to track by air scent. Never could get the bugger to put his nose to the ground.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Hi Alicia, it's a great question & I am looking forward to people with more experience than myself responding. My .02 =: The scent pad is really important because this is where the dog starts the track. It signals to the dog he is going to start tracking& also this is where he takes in the initial scent. I stamp out scent pads in the beginning about 3 feet x 3 feet & remeber to mark it with flags so you know exactly where it is. Lay bait in a triangle, with the widest part being the bottom & the tip towards where your track would start. I initially tie pup out & let him watch & that gets him curious. For bait, I think teeny tiny bits of hot dog or rollover is good - anything the dog loves that can be snuffled up, but won't be distracted by having to chew. Once my dog starts to figure out what a scent pad is, I have him platz when I bring him up to it, but give him the command (I use "seek"). I put the leash under front leg & hold the leash down practically in the area of the armpit for control. In the beginning point to each piece of bait & repeat the command. As a matter of fact, I am going back to doing just scent pads again because my pup is moving off the scent pads too quickly & I have to nip this in the bud because it's a really bad habit!
 

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Susan,
Definately go back to the scent pad. You can't do to much of this, IMHO.
One thing I do different from what you described. I fill the whole square with food. Not just a triangle. The traingle comes later when I know the dog is using his nose to stay in the square. I don't want areas of the square to be nonproductive. When the dog hits the edges of the square and immediately turns back in, THEN I start stamping out a triangle. Next step after the triangle is a couple of steps off of the tip of the triangle. From there' it should be pretty smooth sailing. JMHO! :wink:
Alicia, are you staying right up along side the dog? You may be moving to fast. You need to be right next to him and, if necessary, point out the food. Stay with the scent pad till he understands.
My dog was trained in SAR (air scent) for almost a year before I started FST. He's never really had a problem distinguishing the two, primarily because of the scent pad. It's a totally different game, with different collars and commands then real search work.
Sport tracking is more of a scent training disciline. It's all about correctness rather then the find.
 

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Susan,
Definately go back to the scent pad. You can't do to much of this, IMHO.
One thing I do different from what you described. I fill the whole square with food. Not just a triangle. The traingle comes later when I know the dog is using his nose to stay in the square. I don't want areas of the square to be nonproductive. When the dog hits the edges of the square and immediately turns back in, THEN I start stamping out a triangle. Next step after the triangle is a couple of steps off of the tip of the triangle. From there' it should be pretty smooth sailing. JMHO! :wink:
Alicia, are you staying right up along side the dog? You may be moving to fast. You need to be right next to him and, if necessary, point out the food. Stay with the scent pad till he understands.
My dog was trained in SAR (air scent) for almost a year before I started FST. He's never really had a problem distinguishing the two, primarily because of the scent pad. It's a totally different game, with different collars and commands then real search work.
Sport tracking is more of a scent training disciline. It's all about correctness rather then the find.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Hey thanks Bob, I will definetly go back to a square. That in fact, may be exactly what the problem was, I rushed him off into a triangle instead of starting with a square. That really makes sense to me. Also, are you saying that in footstep tracking, you don't start your first bit of food in the first footstep? Why is that? Sure appreciate the help!
 

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Susan, the first dog I ever taught tracking to was a Border terrier about 15 yrs ago. We didn't use the scent pad at the time and the dogs often took of to fast and missed tracks. I think the scent pad helps them to start slow and concentrate more. I still start all my dog's tracks with a scent pad. Even do scent pads by their self. Kinda like a big league baseball player taking batting practice. When he trials, HOPEFULLY, :D he'll spend a little more time getting started.
Definately start the first foot steps off with food. Put food in EVER foot step and gradually, randomly, wean him of of the food. He's now understanding the connection of the crushed grass/disturbed soil in the scent box, but he's also now moving. Stay RIGHT along side the dog and don't allow any backing up for missed food.
Work the articles as a TOTALLY seperate exercise, and don't put them together till BOTH the tracking AND the article indications are solid.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Yes, I've always done food in each footstep. I'm thinking that when I moved him on to tracks from scent pads I should have also continued reinforcing scent pads by doing a couple as a seperate exercize every day (as I did in the begininning). Also, I am most def going back to square scent pads. I think I may be asking too much, too fast & the result has been this awful Speedy Gonzalez business for the first 5 feet of the track. I MUST stop this now while he is little! I want him to be a slow precise tracker for sch (don't we all!!!).

Oh, & Bob, the PVC pipe trick is such a back saver! I'll be able to put food in each footstep for as long as I need. I was a little worried what with my bad back, but this is just perfect.

I am so thankful for being able to go on these boards & take advantage of everyones' experience. I am also very lucky that you all are willing to share & have such generous spirits.

Thanks so much :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Yes, I've always done food in each footstep. I'm thinking that when I moved him on to tracks from scent pads I should have also continued reinforcing scent pads by doing a couple as a seperate exercize every day (as I did in the begininning). Also, I am most def going back to square scent pads. I think I may be asking too much, too fast & the result has been this awful Speedy Gonzalez business for the first 5 feet of the track. I MUST stop this now while he is little! I want him to be a slow precise tracker for sch (don't we all!!!).

Oh, & Bob, the PVC pipe trick is such a back saver! I'll be able to put food in each footstep for as long as I need. I was a little worried what with my bad back, but this is just perfect.

I am so thankful for being able to go on these boards & take advantage of everyones' experience. I am also very lucky that you all are willing to share & have such generous spirits.

Thanks so much :D
 

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Bob Scott said:
Work the articles as a TOTALLY seperate exercise, and don't put them together till BOTH the tracking AND the article indications are solid.
Correct, Bob. I should've made sure to say that. How do you teach the article indications?
 

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Just a question:

Do y'all walk forwards or backwards when you make the track? Seems to me like walking backwards would make putting the food in each footstep even easier (with or without the pvc pipe). Thoughts?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I've never thought of walking backwards, it might be ok for little tracks, but I can't see it even at the distance I'm doing, Im the worlds biggest klutz & would probably trip over a twig or something!
 

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In the scent pad I'm not concerned with direction. I just stomp all over. On the track, I only go forward. I'd probably fall on my head if I tried doing it backwards. :oops: :lol:
With the articles, I just toss my wallet, keys, scented pieces of wood around the yard/field. When the dog puts his nose on them, I give a platz command and reward at the article. I don't do this with a lot of excitement because I don't want the dog to pop up.
Some place food under the article. I'm not a big fan of this because it can cause the dog to flip the article to get the food.
The only problem I had was I trained Thunder to give a bark alert on article search in SAR. It took a bit for him to realize I wanted a nice quiet down for tracking.
 
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