Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tracking with Pre

You're wondering who Pre is.  I know you are!  Pre is a male Belgian Malinois owned by my friend, Sam L, who is off to Law School and who generously left Pre in my care so that I can compete with him.  I've *known* Pre since he was a youngster and watched them grow as a team. Sam is a gifted dog trainer and Pre is a very talented dog. It is unfortunate that they weren't able to see this journey to its completion together.  I have some big expectations to meet, however!

                       This is Sam asking Pre to "sit pretty"

We've been doing quite abit of tracking, mostly because we will have all winter to break down obedience exercises.  I don't often have photographs of our work because, well, I'm WORKING. Unlike a trial or even a seminar where there are people taking photographs, I don't have that luxury when I am out by myself or with my training partner, Sue.  I finally asked Sue to use her cell phone and get his picture of Pre doing a track on dirt.

This was a difficult track, and Pre's first on this type of surface that I am aware of.  Because of this, I had adequate food reward; I wanted the track to challenge but not beat him.  The farm field had been turned over and had huge furrows.  I laid the track walking on top of the furrow ridge, knowing the scent would pool in the bottom of the trough and pull the dog off, if he did not stay exactly true to source.  I laid one long leg which crossed a hay covered field break, continued in dirt and  ended with a right turn that contined about 15 feet into grass.  I think I had 3 articles down on the dirt leg.

Pre handled the track wonderfully.  He worked at the source of the odor and was not drawn into the trough, downed quickly on articles, even though he had to balance himself on the top of the ridge, finding that as challenging as I had to walk it!  There were two instances when he became distracted.  Once it was due to roadway traffic that caught his attention and once was simply a brain fart (unknown etiology.  yes, that is a technical term) .  Since Pre knows what his job is, I made a line slap that broke his reverie and sent him back to work, and that was sufficient.  When I can feel on the line that he is "checking out" I simply put more back pressure on the line and he pulls against the pressure..  That seems to be working well, and his speed is now consistent and measured.

The cutest thing he does on a track is something Sam taught him at the article indication.  When the reward is being "rained", if there is a pause, Pre sticks his nose to the ground as a trained behavior.  I'm using that now as part of his re-start posture, placing food just ahead of his paws and also between his legs and when he shows me the nose-down position, he is granted permission to begin tracking again.  What began as a cute default behavior is now adding to his calm re-start.