I am self learning about tracking. I did attend a couple seminars 12+ years ago and dabbled in tracking then but was not really serious about training to title level tracking until we got Bea.
Here's a few log entries from our beginnings
Well the footing here stinks this week. EVERYTHING is covered in an icy
crust an inch thick. We had snow on top but that melted off last week
and we are left with this thick, slippery crap.
Everything with grass is too slippery to work on (the lawn, the fields
etc), even the hiking trail. However the local sand and gravel pit is
bare so we went there.
Yeah I know, sand is tough for a beginner dog. But I'm still at the
"need to see where the track is or I forget" stage (remembering tufts of
grass and shrubs is a no go, in one side of the brain and out the other)
so it was better for me.
We ran two tracks. I had no helper so I had to lay them myself with Bea
on a down stay. She stayed but did not like me being that far away!
We ran 1 fresh one with two turns and a glove at the end. She had
problems on the corners but otherwise did pretty good (considering there
were three deer cross tracks made early this am!) and best of all she
kept her head down and did not run!
The second track I aged about 15 minutes and it had two turns, a glove
at the end and one deer cross track. This one was much harder for her.
Once she'd get it she was head down and pulling but she'd lose it again
after several feet (6-10) and have to find it again. The corners again
were hard but she made it to the end!
Interestingly enough the deer cross tracks were very minimal
distractions and corners on grass are NO problem for her at all so I
could for sure see what problems the sand held for us (did not seem to
hold the scent uniformly and in places barely at all) that grass and
hiking trails don't. Usually my stepdaughter or nephew lays and random
track on grass or the trail with lots of corners and weaves and that
does not present much of a problem for Bea, then again we've only run
those fresh so far.
I've asked permission to track in a sunny field up the road. That should
be better if they say yes. It has minimal ice right now. ironically the
icy crust does not bother Bea, she tracks great on it actually. It is
"I" who can't walk on it!
But all in all Bea did better in nose down and speed than usual but less
well at sustained concentration (she was over excited) and corners. This
is her first attempt at sand though so I was happy
We had two days above 40 so some, but not all of the ice left so we
decided to take a hike and see if the trails were less slippery
Where we park is a sunny field and I decided to have my stepdaughter lay
a track. The field is quite big and not quite centered in our end was a
strip of brush and trees. I had Stacia walk up the edge of the field
(about 10' from the edge), turn left and pass just past the point of
this strip, turn left again and walk down the center of the grass
between the strip and the woods, turn left at the end of the strip and
walk across the field and about 3' before the woods she dropped the
glove and turned and came back to the truck (We left Bea in the truck so
she could not see). The whole track was about 250 yards maybe a tad more
The field is crisscrossed with coyote, deer, grouse and turkey traffic
and likely some dog/people traffic too though there was only spotty snow
so I could not see many tracks
Then we went on our hike which turned out to be moderately slippery
because not much ice had melted. We gave up 50 min out and came back.
The track aged about 100 minutes.
I've never tried Bea on anything older than 15 min and never anywhere I
could not see the track. The wind was blowing right to left across the
field so it was in her face at the start (first leg), across the track
on the second leg, from behind on the third leg and across the track on
the last leg
The first leg she did great on (once I got her to actually get to the
start as there was coyote pee on a bush at the field entrance that was
sooo interesting), she kept her head down most of the time and only cast
about twice. Then at the first turn she circled once and headed the
right way again head down. About 2/3 of the way and about 10' from where
the track past the point of the brusy strip she lost the track. Picked
it up again and lost it. tentatively picked it up and then level with
the brushy strip lost it again. took her several minutes to pick it up
again and the she was very tentative, not solid. The entire way down the
strip of grass between the brushy strip and the woods she was off the
scent as much as on and since I was not positive exactly where the track
was (I watched it be laid but once I walked away from the field I
forgot- that's how my memory works) we just worked on it slowly. At the
end of the brushy strip I finally saw a track in a small patch of snow
at the last turn, and pointed it out to Bea. She thenwas solid on the
track again, pulling me right along on the last leg with no hesitation,
head down. Right up to the glove
We've been workingon downing at the glove indoors (do you know how
frustrating that is??? LOL all Bea wants to do is kill it) and as we got
to the glove she downed on command and only gave it a teeny flip with
her nose <BG>
I was very surprised at how well she tracked given the age of the track.
That one leg was really our biggest problem with the wind at our backs,
and me not knowing where the track was to help her. (Bea's breeder said
I should have the track layer come with us to help my brain in such
cases???) The other problem is that when she sees the glove (in this
case about 10' out) she stops nose to ground scenting and acts like she
is both targeting the glove and air scenting atthe same time. (Bea is 22 months old)
Bea did really well and had no problems, even though it was POURING rain.
I had been told by lots of tracking people previously that I needed to train Bea to not shake/kill the articles as that was a failure for playing and that the dog should track on top of the track and might fail if not doing so.
I asked Suzanne about this and she disagreed and said she likes to see dogs have fun with the article and that many dogs dislike tracking on top of the track and will track 3-4' off to one side and as long as it is obvious that the dog is in fact following the track she is fine with it
Are these two opinions just her own or can Bea really still "kill" the articles (we have been working on not doing that!) and track a bit off to one side of the track? Or would the majority of judges fail her for these two things? (the answer was alot depends upon the judge but in general with AKC tracking she can do both)
Typically Bea tracks on top of the track but on hills and wind she often tracks a few feet to one side obviously following drifted scent but still nose down and obviously following thetrack
We have discovered that she tracks best on damp to wet ground and in those conditions can track an amazingly long track with multiple corners and curves, hills, ditches and puddles/mucky mud. I paced out her and mapped last track we did Sunday evening(I forgot to have hubby do so when he laid it) and I had thought, at the time, it was a LONG, mind tough track in a squishy, mucky field near a river (a river recently at flood stage and there was nasty smelling mud and frog egg sacks everywhere), with multiple vegetation type changes and way longer than I'd meant for him to lay!
Bea did exceptionally well on it only having minor trouble on one corner where another leg came too close to the first one in a gulley and again minor trouble where the track edged a huge puddle (she waded through straight from where the track started to go around the pond- oops- puddle and picked up the track on the other side). But she easily worked through both problems and finished. After pacing it out I was amazed to find it was 685 yards long!!!!!! Nice husband huh? Up to now our longest had been 350 yards.
I was truely amazed that she'd been successful, but don't intend to have hubby lay a track again without making him pace it and keep it to a MORE reasonable length for us beginners! On dry ground though Bea has been having a good bit of corner trouble. More work for us right?
We'd like to get certified late this fall and be able to track at the National next spring but we'll see. There is a maternity leave for Bea in there between now and then
Bea is a VERY serious tracker and even a herd of cattle leaning over the fence a couple weeks ago does not distract her, so I have big hopes! She is a very talented 2 year old!
I laid a mid length track for us, about 254 yards with 5 corners
A first for us though, the grass was higher than Bea's back. We usually track in less than belly length grass or on bare ground
WE have not tracked in at least a month because of heat and ticks so I only "aged" it 5 minutes to ensure success. Plus this field is used by deer and turkeys- a deer raced across the field just beyond where I was dropping the glove!
Bea was so cranked to track! I had a cloth article at the start stake as per the new rules and a brown leather glove at the end. I had then taken a huge leap off the track and walked out
Bea tracked super well although not as head down as I'd like , today she was tracking with her head only slightly dropped. Lack of practice and excitement
She indicated corners beautifully! She'd raise her head as she lost the track and either circle or turn her head left and right and then instantly commited to the next leg.
I could see the track and if she started drift tracking I'd stop and stay still til she got back on the track and started in again and praised her. This was a minimal problem though
However at the end of the track I momentarily forgot which turn we were on and only after a few feet realized that she'd blown past the glove and was tracking me out. I backed up past the glove and asked her to find it and she did after a couple tries on my part. THEN she was excited to have it. She was just so cranked to track that the glove was unimportant. Also she was tracking higher headed than I'd prefer which did not help AND I also realized that she has always been able to see the article a couple feet before gettting to it! Interesting problem and one I need to address but hard to when I can only track on cold rainy days hoping the ticks will be hiding
God I wish the weather was like this all year 'round! It would be tracking heaven!!!
Bea and I met a really nice AKC tracking judge at a field 1 hour away this am bright and early to make a try for our tracking certification (which for those who don't know, is a facsimile of a TD test (sometimes harder, never easier) that you must pass to prove you are ready to enter tracking tests)
The rolling field was really huge and nice along a main highway with lots of traffic. Oh yeah and the field was soaking wet
The very first turn was a sharp left of more than 45 but less than 90 degrees which Bea managed with very little difficulty. There were several more turns and a small ditch that were no problem at all for Bea, 1 turn of moderate difficulty on a hill and another turn and then after what seemed like the longest leg in history a glove to kill!!
Bea did so very very well and was quite pleased to bring the judge back his glove He said there was NO question that she was ready for a real titling test!
My friend Jess came to watch and follow along with the judge so I have a witness!!
So now we are certified and as soon as a trial comes along that Bea's pending pups don't interfere with we'll be entering and trying to get in (TD tests here only usually have 4-8 openings) and go for her TD title YIPPEE
wind and rain from new to 3 hours in length
She aced her certfication track with total ease in the fall
We've been doing tracks off and on some of the winter and lately but
none old. Not formally anyway but she does track people who've walked
our trails on her own
Yesterday though was not a great day
A friend laid a track in light drizzle and no wind on a field I've not
tracked on before. I did not watch the lay as I did not want to know
where it went.
We then went to another field 3 miles away to track the other dogs (4
dogs doing short fresh tracks and 1 who did a track aged only as long as
it took to work the others)
In the mean time it started to pour while we worked and the working took
longer than we thought
By the time we got back to Bea's track it was 3 hours old and been
poured on. Bea wasvery eager to start and proud of her start article
find, but then had a very hard time starting. The field wasrolling and
now with the rain had a ditch and large puddles and mud that was not
Once started she did acceptably well til a large sloppy area where she
pulled like hell in a strong track indication the wrong way. (tracklayer
walked with us) Once I pulled her off she was much less eager and then
at the top of a rise seemed to entirely lose it and was only
halfheartedly lookig. At the top we were on a large septic system (which
I did not know the track went over when I started) so maybe it smelled??
Anyhow we meandered n the right direction and then the last 5' she came
back and pulled to the glove which she seemed very surprised to find but
oh so happy
So back to less old tracks again I guess. To perk her up. I guess it was
the pouring rain and the age because age I know she can do as we tracked
a 2 day old track my husband walked just last week. Not intentionally.
"I" was out for a walk, but Bea tracked him the entire 1 MILE + head
down like a good tracking doggy
Oh well back to working as we are entering in tests this spring and
hoping to get in
followed tracks 2 days old
HOWEVER she occasionally (NOT at all often, it's random) LIES with conviction. Every now and then Bea goes totally off track (NOT crittering of that I am 100% positive), sometimes at a corner and sometimes not.BUT when she lies she usually gives loss of scent indication, looks for a bit then pulls off like a train, nose down and gives every indication that she is on track but she's not. It's very bizarre.
However she is usually a very nice tracker I just would like to figure out how I
taught her to lie so well :(
We went up to the Blackwater dam flood plain area where there are several nice fields
I laid Max's track and Jess laid Bea's in separate fields then we met back up and went back to work the "Little's" (Cam will be 7 months old the end of this week and Annie is 2 weeks younger)
I laid Cam's first, a nice straight up a slight incline with the wind in his face track and he zipped right along with little error at all. NIce job!
Jess laid a slightly longer mostly straight track on a level spot with the wind cross track and Annie also aced her track just like Cam did.What good babies!
Put the littles back and got out the adults and hiked the 2 miles back to the big fields
Max went first and his track was a very hard one.The lower half of the field is totally under water so I only had the sloped upper 1/2 to work with. He worked very very hard at this 220 yd 1 1/2 hour old track that went over a puddled squishy area, then 3' from the water's edge along the base of the slope and then went up the incline and across the top. a moderate breeze cross track or in his face most of the way. The last two legs were easier and he cooked along to a big reward at the glove. Good boy! I believe Jess said Max usually tracks flat fields so the whole field was a new challange to him but he never ever gave up at all such a GREAT work ethic!!!
Bea's track was over 300 yds long and much of it went through ankle deep squishyness and outright grassy lakes of a watery field. Well you never would have guessed the field was such a mess. She breezed along all worklike. I was thrilled as her tracks as of late have not been so great but she loved this one all 1 3/4 hour old of it
ALL four dogs did wonderful jobs and it made the weekend perfect!
Thanks Jess for coming up to help us! (and Jess also makes the greatest and most detailed maps! )
Diane and the two sound asleep soggy tracking doggies
After being an alternate for last week's tracking test, we got the call that we'd made the random draw for one of 10 TrackingDog tests for next Sun 4/23
That means I'll need to get UP at 1 AM and leave here between 2:30 & 3 AM for our 4+ hour trek to New Paltz, NY
Please wish for a nice heavy rain sat 4/23 and for Sunday to be cloudy and maybe misting. Bea loves soggy fields best!
Last week's test had ZERO qualifiers so think good thoughts for us PLEASE!!!
8 hours of that was driving!
6 hours was spent watching other dogs track, eating or hanging out waiting for everyone to finish up
The weather was steady rain or pouring rain all day. All the ditches that were dry yesterday when they plotted tracks were full with water. The ditches were 1-3' wide and rushing mini rivers. The fields were squishy, soaking wet
We drew track # 2 this am
And while it was not Bea's best work, she PASSED! She had 3 "mini river" crossings and I "think" 4 or 5 turns, I was a mess about the downpour and Bea had a hard time getting started so all I was doing was watching my dog but I'm fairly sure my corner count is right.
Almost every dog had some rain related issue except for one Golden. He looked like his nose was chained to the track!
7 of the 8 TDs passed and none of the TDXs passed
It was a good day but Lord I'm tired! And my truck is a muddy mire!!
And in between all that work Gretchen's 18 month old Miss Emily kept us entertained WHAT a self sufficient kid this is! Holy cow she even hikes as in uses her own feet!!!!!!
Annie FINALLY got to TOUCH a little kid that was not afraid of her or shriek and act inappropriate and Annie was soooo happy and good with her, Bea too of course
Oh yeah so back to the working part
So first we went tracking; Bea, Annie, Gretchen's 2 year old Tailed Rotty boy- Xcel, Gret, Em, Stacia and I. We drove 5 miles down the road to Fieldstone farm. What a cool field and Gret was soo jealous of me being able to use it LOL
I laid a 157 1/2 yard track for the novice tracker, Xcel ,down a hill, through a dip, up a small rise and across some longer grass to a glove just short of a cut corn field.
At the same time Gret laid Bea's track a 570 1/3 yard track that crossed a 5' wide mid calf deep water and grass hummuck mess (don't step off the hummucks!), up a hill, across the crest, diagonally across and down the face of the hill, into some chest and head high brush and grass, across a teeny brook, out onto mowed field again past a dead skunk?? (nearly unidentifiable and just 10' off the track), up a steepish hill, across the crest, down the side, across a squishy area to the glove just feet before another open water patch (it POURED here a couple days ago). She had 4 track articles and a glove at the end
We let Xcel's track age 1/2 hour and off he went. He did SUPER well, what a good boy!
Then we got Bea out to run her track aged 45 minutes. We have tracked MAYBE 4-5 times total all year and have not tracked at all since early August.
Well OFF she went and did a REALLY nice job. we had a minor bout of crittering at the water crossing and she went wide on the first corner and missed an article but I backed up and she got it. Then she could not believe Gret had gone into the tall crap but then dove in and then she did the funniest thing.. She snagged up the article without stopping and kept tracking with it in her mouth she did not want to stop long enough to give it but did not want to NOT indicate either so she picked it up. It was so funny. I looked up and there was blue leather hanging from her mouth. So we made her bring it and sent her on her way which she charged on with no hesitation, over the brook, retrieved the next article as usual, past the dead whatever good next corner and then to the glove which she touched/indicated but did not pick up. I've been doing a bad thing in using the blue leather as track articles and always a leather glove at the end and no way was Bea stopping tracking so while she touched the glove she wanted to keep tracking Gret out. I backed up and she again touched the glove and tried to drag me out on the track so I backed up again and told her to bring which she did but she wanted to keep on! SO lesson learned use different things for different parts of the track so the SMART dog does not figure out what the end is going to look like. MY smart dog no way wanted to quit so while she indicated she was not going to bring it because that would mean..... THE END!
So then we got Miss Annie out who is just 13 months old and has tracked several really short straight tracks and a couple (as in 2) longer straight tracks. We started her on the beginning of Bea's track which Gret originally laid and which then Bea and I tracked over with Gret, Em in a back pack and Stacia walked on. We figured it would be a VERY definate trail and WOW! This little doggie took off, indicated the water crossing point and delicately (LOL this is my mud puddle Nut case who always comes in muddy) tip toed through the water, and INDICATED CLEARLY where Bea's first article was!!! Then straight up the hill she went and just short of the top Annie circled back to see Em who had squealed so I quick tossed a glove ahead on the track (the plan was to track as long as she was steady and toss a glove) and damned if that pup did not immediately recommit to the track and head down tracked the last 25 feet to the glove. She's gonna be a good one I think! (Annie tracked about 190 yards of Bea's first track leg)
So we all load back up and come back for lunch and the Emily entertainment show (Did I mention that Emily knows a bit of sign language already????? She said she was HUNGRY!) And then Em took a nap in her seat while we did obedience with the 3some. All 3 did very well.
Dogs are now asleep, Gret, Em and Xcel are about 1/2 way home and it was a fun and good day all the way around!!! It would have only been better if friends Cate or Jess could have been here too.
Off for another cup of tea!