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Categories: Schutzhund Tracking

Q. My 4 year old dog seems to have good prey drive. I would like to train it to track. Should I get involved with local obedience clubs to help me?
Hi Ed,

Hope all is well in your New Year. First of all, I'm happy to see you have quite a few selections out on DVD . Rats, to bad I hadn't checked before XMAS but my birthday is in March, I'll start dropping the hints and if that doesn't work I'll just drop my own credit card. Ah, one of the perks of age, independent spending.

Next, my dog is best described as a pet. A great one at that, very middle of the road. He is neither submissive or dominant, he's not hard or soft, doesn't display sharpness or aggression. Temperment wise, I'd describe him as laid back.

His energy level, though, is high and he is very athletic. I suppose I could describe him as having prey drive but I'm not sure if I would be judging that correctly. He does love toys!!! And will chase and look for anything thrown to him and play tug with anything given to him. He also loves to chase squirrels, rabbits, etc, but finally at almost age 4 he waits until he's given the go ahead. Thanks, in no small part, to trying to follow your advice about the phases of learning. I emphasize trying, since, I'm sure if I had been consistant this would not have taken 3 years to learn.

Since he seems to love his ball, frisbee, kong, squeakies, tug toys, sticks, snowballs and even a blade of grass equally, I'm not sure he's being motivated by prey drive or the interaction with me. Is there a way to tell? He is very focused when we play and runs through his basic obedience with flying colors. We've only ever practiced basic obedience. I definitely feel he is capable of more and since I find I have a little more time on my hands, I'm considering trying tracking or obedience. Thus my interest in finding what
it is he is actually being motivated by.

Is a love of searching for hidden items an example of prey drive? I know for sure this dog will sell his soul to get a chance to find anything I hide for him. And in a woods full of sticks he always only brings back the one I hid, that does amaze me. Because I think the whole tracking experience would be rewarding to him( interpret as easier to teach......wishful thinking), that is the way I would prefer to go, however, I live in the Boston area and cannot find any Tracking clubs....any suggestions? I was waiting for your RCMP Tracking Video to come out on DVD, but couldn't find it in the list. Am I missing something? Do you think I would be able to get the basics down from your current tracking DVDs without someone knowledgeable to practice with? There are of course Obedience clubs in my area, and combined with your DVD, that might work better. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Also, do you know of anyway to incorporate his love of searching into a training program as a motivator?

By the way, I have written to you over the years and used several of your puppy videos. My dog is Thor, a white shepherd who as a 10 month old pup was attacked by coyotes. Your advice over that time was instrumental in his maintaing his easy going temperment and not suffering any ill effects.

I look forward to hearing from you and thank you for your time.

Sheila

A. Nice to hear from you.

Your dog is showing prey/play drive in his interest in chasing and playing with you.

We do have all of the RCMP tapes converted to DVD - you can find the list of tapes that have been converted at: http://www.leerburg.com/dvd.htm

I would recommend 2 of the RCMP tapes to start with. Video 205 "Tracking level 1" and Video 207 "How to Lay a Track."

If your dog does well with these you can consider the third tape Video 208 "Tracking Levels 2 and 3."

I would strongly advise not getting involved with local obedience clubs. I assure you they do not understand the correct way to train tracking. In fact 95% of the S&R groups in this country do not do it correctly (they train AIR SEARCH before TRACkING - dumb, dumb, dumb).

I think you will do just fine if you STUDY the videos. Not just watch them once - watch them again and again and again. Then have an open mind and be honest about your work.
  
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This video was done with the RCMP in Canada. In it we train a dog to track in a suburban and urban environment. In Level 1 Tracking (Video 205) we taught the dog to track in the country. The reason all police dogs must first learn to track in the country is because the country is relatively distraction free. We actually teach the dog to track in the country and then use a large part of that work to train in Level II & III teaching the dog to deal with the distractions of the city.

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This video was filmed in Alberta, Canada at the police dog training center for the RCMP. The RCMP instructors are the best tracking dog instructors in the world. The RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) catch 45% to 50% of all the people they track (this includes suburban and urban tracking). If a suspect runs in the country, they catch 95% of them. If you are a K-9 officer who trains his service dog with food & a ball you know that you only catch 3% or 4% of the people you track.

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Training a Competition Tracking Dog
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This tracking dog DVD was filmed over a 3 year period in Germany and America back in the 1990s. It is one of the most comprehensive studies ever done on sport tracking (foot step tracking). This video only uses motivational methods to teach a dog to track. While we discuss the difference between motivational tracking and forced tracking, we do not teach any force in this video.

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