Monday, April 13, 2009

Wallace Payne Seminar - Tracking

Kane, myself and my fiance spent the weekend at Metrolina Hundesport Schutzhund Club in Wingate, NC and attended a Wallace Payne seminar. It was great, and I feel like I learned a lot. I really enjoyed how the seminar was structured, and although we never made it into protection, the pointers that Kane and I got in tracking and obedience will really help propel us forward. Wallace's seminars are laid out very well, and he takes care that everyone shares their experiences and it's not only a one-on-one teaching. He first lets you do your own thing, be it tracking or obedience in this case, then he critiques everyone, people ask questions, and then you do it a second time around with his pointers, help and suggestions. The next day goes the same way. Here are the top 5 things I learned about tracking (in no particular order):
  • Make corners 5 step corners. That is fine in trial and how most track-layers lay tracks.
  • Stop marking corners, remember where they are (ugh!)
  • No need for long line, 6 foot leash ok until your dog can track with no food
  • How to properly approach and ready your dog for the track
  • How to correctly hold the leash, position my body and how to move with my dog when he moves
Since tracking is one of the things I have trouble understanding, I really appreciated the feedback and the chance to learn.

Ok, remember where you made that corner....

Wallace told me that 5 step corners is how tracking is done at trials. Hardly ever do you see a 90 degree corner. Wallace starts corners immediately when teaching tracking, no need to wait until the dog can do a longer straight track. While using food, there should be no food at the apex of the track, only right before and right after. When I make the corner, I should remember to make the corner on the inside foot, so that I don't confuse my dog with an outside footstep and an inside corner.
I need to get better at remembering where my corners are. I am not good at that, and I think I confuse Kane a lot at the corners because I'm unsure and he can f
eel it through the leash/line. More practice, I suppose.

The approach is handled with leash near collar in a fist in my left hand. Approach at slow to normal pace (for Stop right before your scent pad and slowly pull up on the leash to make the dog sit (without command).

Transfer the leash into my right hand, while keeping the leash above his head so that he does not drop down (to scent pad). Grab the dogs right leg (above ankle) under the leash, and wrap the leash around the leg. Keep the head up. You can verbally give an "ERR" if the head starts to drop. As soon as the leg is let go of, and hits the ground, give the command. "SEARCH." This seemed to calm Kane, and gave us a much better start, he went right into it and there was no need for whining etc.

The leash should be wrapped around my right hand and held in a fist at the end of the leash/line. The fingers of my left hand should rest on top of the line, sort of as a guide, or to feel the tension and make sure the tension is correct. The left hand should NOT press down on the leash, since the dog can feel that and can subsequently pull back.

While tracking, I should move when my dog moves. When he stops to eat (later on he won't stop of course), the leash should have no tension at all, let it hang loose. Then when he starts moving, the leash will tense up and I should feel it in my hand that he pulls me forward. My shoulders and elbows should be relaxed and my left shoulder should be in front of the right one

If Kane leaves the track, I can give a verbal "ERR" and then the "SEARCH" command again. If he fumbles around too much, starts spinning etc., then I can hold the leash in my left hand near his collar, point to the footstep with my right hand and give the "SEARCH" command, wait until he sniffs and moves forward, let the leash run through my hand and correct hand-position again.

At the end of my last track, I had 5 steps with no food. If he did that well, that's an indication to start leaving food in every 5 foot steps. This is how you progress.

I'm excited to start this new tracking routine, and now I need to find some good tracking fields!

Tomorrow I will post about the obedience part of Wallace's seminar. If you have the opportunity to go to one, you definitely should. It is worth the money and so much more. Thanks to Jeff Rentz at Metrolina for organizing this.


Mrs. JP said...

All I can say is WOW! I'm so impressed with you and Kane - I didn't understand much of the technical stuff but still. Do you plan to use Kane in search and rescue? I think that is so noble and GSD's have the heart for it I think. Anyway, thank you for sharing the seminar experience. It looks like a lot of work and fun.

Lena said...

Hi Mrs. JP: Thanks for the WOW! :-)
Unfortunately schutzhund tracking is very artificial - to get good scores at a trial, the dog has to track footstep to footstep which is not natural. You probably see your own doggies tracking and they lift their heads and sniff the air etc. That is natural tracking and what is required in S & R. My fiance is more into that and when he gets a dog, he may do that.