Tuesday, August 26, 2008

8/21 - Back On Track

Kane and I have been tracking about twice a week during the week now ever since our tracking started heading south. I’ve intentionally laid very simple tracks, sometimes just a straight line, sometimes just one corner. I put down hot dogs every 10-15 steps, and include at least 2 articles. I’m happy to say we’ve made progress! It was hard for me to not correct him when I felt he was doing the wrong thing in tracking…..but I changed my tactics and decided to reward him (with a calm, steady voice and food) when he was doing good instead and not reward otherwise. I let him fumble around a little bit on the first leg and praised him when he was on the track and being consistent. It looks like I need to continue that way for a while, but he is looking a lot better.
I think in a way he is SO excited to track that he sort of looses his brain during the first part, and then after the first turn it catches up with him and he calms down enough to do a nice track. We’ll continue this for a while and see how it goes.

I’ve been wanting to do this animated image for a while so that you can see Kane as he rounds the first blind and heads towards the second for a hold and bark. Until I get a video camera, this is all the action you get. You’ll have to add the barking and growling soundtrack yourself....lol.

Kane runs the blind

Saturday, August 9, 2008

8/2 - Tracking Trouble

Ah yes.....we're having some trouble with tracking. This all started one Sunday when I drove up to Greensboro, NC to visit with Jackie, Julie and Carrie and do some tracking and obedience training. We met for tracking in a beautiful park with what looked like marvelous, "just-the-right-height" grass - perfect for a track.

So I laid my track, and waited. I walked Bronko's track with Jackie and Carrie and there were plenty of bad omens during that track. Bronko is (usually) a great tracker: deep nose, follows the footsteps etc. Right after the first turn, he inhaled some bees. We're not sure if they stung his mouth or not, but Bronko sure jumped and was very startled....and thus not concentrated on the track anymore (who can blaim him, right?). Well, then we also found ants on our hot dogs.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with Schutzhund tracking training - we use hot dogs as treats in our footsteps when we first start out. Gradually they get fewer and fewer hot dogs and eventually they track the footprints instead of hot dogs. Great in theory -- tracking is (I think) one of the more difficult areas of schutzhund. I find it hard to read my dog while we are doing this and there are so many intricacies to eveyrthing about tracking. You can have a great track one day and the next day your dog is doing horrible. All dependent on the track, conditions while you laid the track and conditions while you track etc.

Anyways....back to the ants. I guess if I was one, an ant that is, I'd like hot dogs too. They are moist and juicy and easy to eat. :-) And packed full of calories!!!!

This is what ants do to dogs when they eat/inhale some of them: They basically bite them and crawl up their nasal cavity while continuing to bite. Nasty little critters they are. Not fun. Needless to say that pretty much screws up a track as well....

Too make an incredibly long-winded story short - that's what happened.

Kane now flunders on the first leg of the track - he is all over the place, including stopping to look back at me, once we get through the first turn, he straightens up and starts tracking like he used to.

So we're back to many, many, many, many more, short tracks. All throughout the week now that the weather is a little cooler.

On a good note - we had a good protection practice! :-) I really need to get some more tracking pics. Haha...