Sunday, November 13, 2011

Titan training on November 12, 2011

Our recent snowfall left conditions perfect for meandering snow trackings, with serpentines and corners that can be done without flags and markers.  Titan's track took him the length of our national-level proportioned schutzhund field.

You notice that the kibble on the track is visible.  It was only after I noticed that Titan was skipping steps to see the treats that I was reminded to use tracking treats that match the ground surface, to avoid this.  The other reminder is to step deeply toe-first, so that there is a little cave to drop the food in and the dog has to stick their nose all the way in there to find a treat.

You can see below that the length of stride is pretty well perfect. The dog should flow from step to step.  If the steps and treats are too close together, the dog will hunch up and come to a stop, sometimes turning sideways.  If the steps are too far apart for a young dog, they may start to search out where it goes using the other sense available to them instead of keeping their nose to the ground.

This is Titan working out a corner. He has taken one step forward of the corner but is still on the track.  Because it is in snow, the handler can clearly see those fine details.  You can see Rich's hand in the photo, clasping treats.  He will drop the treats on the corner, behind the dog, and then tap the leash directly back if the dog continues another step forward, not as a correction but as guidance, and act like there was a party that Titan missed.  Where did those treats come from??!

In this instance, Titan does not continue off the track.  He notices there is no scent where his nose is, and moves back to the track

The puppy should check every footstep.  The handler walks along side, if necessary so that if so much as a single step is not checked, they can drop treats and tap the dog back.  Also, from the beginning, the handler sets the speed for tracking.  The puppy is not allowed to race down the track.  You can also surprise him now and then by having a jackpot midway or at a location on the track other than the end.  We communicate that every footstep contains information and has value.

After tracking, Titan did protection work.  He is teething, but other than one ear being somewhat soft, there is no difference in him or his working attitude. Here Titan puts on his Game Face and barks to make the helper go active.

This final picture is my favorite....  in addition to the nice front extension, Titan is clearly telling Rich that he worked hard for the rag and it is HIS!  He is quite proud of himself!